Friday, April 20, 2012

Fab Finds Friday: Road Trips + Thrift Tips

As I shared in my birthday recap post on Monday, last weekend I went on a class retreat to Flathead Lake. It's about an hour and half north of Missoula, and as a University group we were able to stay at UM's Flathead Lake Biological Station.

I had an awesome time not only on the actual retreat, but on the drive up as well! My group decided to stop in Ronan, MT to eat at a local cafe, and while there we also browsed a cute thrift store called "Twice But Nice."

They took cash only and I didn't have much on me (I actually had to borrow $1.25 from someone, ha!), so I only came away with two finds, but I love them both so:

Yes, a vintage Pyrex baking dish for $2.50 and a milk glass goblet for $1.50! Here's a detail shot of the Pyrex and its pretty aqua snowflakes:

And a close-up of the milk glass, which actually matches a pedestal bowl I nabbed from an antique shop earlier this year:

I'm definitely going to need some sort of china cabinet or bookcase in our future dining room to store all of my antique Pyrex and milk glass :) I want something that's dark wood with modern lines to keep things from looking too traditional--plus I love the juxtaposition of the vintage and contemporary looks.

Since I only had two finds to share this week, I figured I'd also fulfill my friend and sorority sister Sara's request and share my thrifting tips with you all! (P.S., open up a new tab and check out Sara's blog right now. She's so eloquent, and she's about to move in with her boyfriend and decorate their new space--I'm sure she'll be writing all about it!)

So, on with my Thrifting Tips:
  • Do a double take. Most thrift store shelves are stacked to the brim with goods. And let's face it--most of them are hideous. Take, for example, this one full of unicorn statues.

It's hard to look past that and see any promise. But a closer sweep of the shelves may reveal some hidden treasures. I can't count how many times I've gone thrifting and felt overwhelmed by the sheer amount of junk on the shelves. Often I'll look in an area, leave it, and then double back to find something I absolutely love! It's very important to take your time in the store and really scour the shelves. Don't be afraid to move things around to unearth potential finds. For example, on a recent trip  I strolled right by this busy shelf after a quick glance:

But then I doubled back and found one wooden piece of fruit (that matches the ones I snagged on my birthday) nestled under the other faux fruits!

Without a double take, I never would have found my fruits' long-lost mate!

Don't be afraid to pick items up and check their nooks and crannies, too! I never would've known how pretty these books were, for instance, if I hadn't taken off their crumbly dust jackets:

See, that guy knows how it's done. He's not afraid to dig in the bins. 

You should also remember that even the ugliest items can be transformed with a little cleaning or spray paint! Just because something looks dirty or isn't the right color doesn't mean you should leave it behind. If you love the shape, style, lines, and quality of anything, including furniture, consider how you might alter it for the better! Which brings me to my next tip:
  • Come prepared. By this I mean that you should have ideas for how you might make over things that you could encounter while thrifting. Nowadays inspiration is everywhere, especially on Pinterest and throughout the blogosphere.

I personally made a DIY To-Do list on my Pinterest. These are all projects I'd love to complete, and many involve items that can be thrifted, such as these "Things & Stuff" jars (it'd be cute to make others that say "Odds & Ends," too!), this tiered tray made of cake pans & painted candlesticks, these animal topped jars, these painted vases, or this magnet board  (made with a cookie pan and scrapbook paper).

Now whenever I thrift I keep a lookout for vases, cake & cookie pans, lidded jars, toy animals, and cool-shaped vases so that I can complete these projects!

Thrift stores are great for furniture, picture frames, and home accessories as well. You just have to be willing to look beyond the items' current color and envision it with a little spray paint!
Take this mantle clock for example:

Not my style as is, but with a quick spray paint job--maybe glossy aqua or yellow or red--and some scrapbook paper over the traditional clock face, I could end up with a beauty like this one, DIYed by Becca at From Gardeners Two Bergers:

Now, say an item catches my eye, but that I don't yet have a purpose or a project in mind. I simply grab my phone and search for that item on Google or Pinterest. Tons of projects are now at my fingertips! If any strike my fancy and the price is right, I'll usually snatch it up. For example, on a recent Goodwill trip I saw a ton of wine racks for $2.99. We already have one, so I initially passed them by, but then I started to think that I could repurpose them! A quick Google search for "repurposed wine racks" led me to this great blog post featuring tons of wine rack projects:

And don't just limit yourself to blogs or Pinterest. Inspiration can also be found in print. Catalogs and decor magazines are chock full of DIY-able or thrift-able decor and accessories. Mark the projects or vignettes that inspire you and search for similar pieces that you can use to recreate the same look!

  • Know your store. You should be aware of your store's policies, schedules, and layout. Be aware of whether you can return items, and whether there are any discounts you might be able to cash in on. Our local Goodwill has discounts for seniors, veterans, and students with ID, so I always save a bit! Additionally, most Goodwills have holiday sales (MLK Day, President's Day, etc). and tag sales in which all tags of a certain color are discounted each day! Our store has a sign announcing the tag sale right over the carts, but if yours doesn't, just ask an associate.

Furthermore, you should inquire about when your store restocks its items (or when they generally get the most donations--usually it's on the weekend, so Mondays are the best pickin's). Knowing when the store replenishes their shelves will allow you to get to the store soon after they do so, and you'll get the best picks of the bunch!

  • Don't compromise on quality. Sometimes thrift store prices can put a spell over us. We find ourselves considering items that we ordinarily wouldn't love, or items that have scratches or chips or wobbly legs. Don't let yourself be wooed by an item just because it's cheap and because you likely won't see it on the shelves again. I know it seems silly to imply that you'll get buyer's remorse from a $1 or $2 purchase, but those numbers can add up. (Just think of what you could do with that money! Buy yourself a Sonic Route 44 drink, perhaps? Or pay for a parking meter! Or save up to buy something bigger!) If there's something about the item that makes you second guess yourself and you're sure that a little DIY TLC won't cure it, put it back! Oh, and always always always quality test furniture before buying it. See if it's stable, and if not, if you can adjust screws to make it sturdier. Look at its joints to see how they've held up. Check its drawers and undersides. Scour that baby to ensure that it's something you'd want to bring in your home!

  • If at first you don't succeed...try, try again, of course! Some thrifting trips are a bust. But new items can come in almost every day, depending on your store's donation and stocking schedules. I've gone thrifting on Wednesday and found nothing, then returned on Thursday and came away with tons of goodies! Every trip to the thrift store is different. You're bound to find treasures some time! 

  • Remember the usual suspects. This is less of a thrifting tip and more of a general shopping tip. After a few trips to my Goodwill, I began noticing the things that aways seemed to be in stock: clear vases, gift boxes, picture frames, mason jars, wreath forms, etc. So whenever I need one of those items, I hold off on buying them from other stores. So say you need a bunch of vases for an event--check your thrift store first! 

Well, that's all for now! I hope my thrifty tips are of use to you all. Happy shopping!

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  1. Your blog posts never disappoint! You always share good ideas. I'm glad I subscribe to your postings.

  2. EEEEEEK! THANK YOU!!!! This was so helpful! Thankfully, I have a lot of ideas pinned on Pinterest, so I already have some projects on my DIY list. Also, thanks for putting in the tip about furniture and not compromising quality/style just because the price is right. I'm actually really afraid of that happening. I don't however want to overcompensate by not buying anything that just a little TLC can fix. Ah so much to think about!


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