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My 5 Best Tips for Antique and Thrift Shopping

May 30, 2020

Rummaging through antique and thrift shops is one of my favorite ways to pass the time – but sometimes the sheer amount of stuff can be daunting to sort through. So I thought that I’d share some tips and tricks I use while thrifting.

Kettle is from an antique shop in Weatherford; embroidered linens were only 50 cents each at the Front Porch pop up market

Tip #1: Know where to go!

Some of the most popular antique and thrift shops in your area are probably also the most picked-over. Get out of your comfort zone and explore! Google is your friend – I like to look up whatever shops are in my area and go to the ones I’ve never been before. A lot will probably be duds, but you never know if you don’t try – and eventually you’ll come across a great one!

Cutting boards acquired over the years from a variety of places

Also take advantage of pop-up markets! Abilene has a great one called Front Porch Market that’s held at The Acre; I’ve found some great glass pieces, brass candlesticks, and embroidered linens here. They also have a great one called My Sister’s House, held once a year at Eller Hall.

This Clad & Cloth dress was originally $59 – I snagged it for $8 at My Sister’s House sale!

Lucky for you if you live in the Abilene area, I already made a google map of all the thrift and antique shops here (with descriptions of the one’s I’ve been to). You can find it at the bottom of this post!

This cute bag was at Abilene’s My Sister’s House pop up sale, the stool was sitting on a lawn to be sold and the guy gave it to me for $5!

Tip #2: Take your time!

One of the worst things you can do when thrifting is be in a rush – you are so much more likely to find a good deal if you’re patiently walking through the store, taking in everything it has to offer. For me, thrifting is a fun pastime; it’s like the inner child in me is on a treasure hunt!

Candlesticks from a variety of places (most recently found ones at Dirt Cheap); velvet jewelry organizer from Goodwill)

Tip #3: Have a “general” idea of what you’re on the hunt for before entering into an antique shop

I say “general” idea however, because you never really know what is going to be at the shop and you still want to keep an open mind. In my next post on this topic, I go into much more detail about what items I always look out for when thrifting!

$7 rattan bed tray thrifted from Dirt Cheap; originally sold at Target for I don’t even know how much more (it’s their Opal House line so I’m sure it wasn’t cheap)

FUN FACT: So there’s this really cool thing called the “Baader-Meinhof phenomenon” (don’t ask me to pronounce it) where once you see or learn about a new thing that sticks out to you, you’re more likely to notice that item in the future! It’s kind of how trends get their start: you see someone wearing these cool wide-leg pants, and then you begin to notice wide-leg pants everywhere! So basically what I’m getting at is if you have an idea of what you like and want, you’re more likely to be able to pick it out among all the other odds and ends. (But that’s just the tip of the iceberg, you can Google it if you want to keep nerding out like me.)

Basket from Goodwill; vintage floral glasses passed down from my grandma

Tip #4: Try to refrain from impulse buying!

Okay, this is a hard one for me – especially with thrift shops because there is only that one specific item and I’m worried someone else may come along and snag it! Here are a few questions to ask yourself before making a purchase you later regret:

Is it rare/unique/difficult to come by?

Can you find something similar at a better price point?

Do you actually have a place for it at home/can you picture yourself using it?

Hat thrifted at a Buffalo Exchange in Portland, Levi denim jacket from a flea market in Oxford

Tip #5: Don’t Break the Bank!

Don’t you hate when you buy something and then see it later being sold at a much lower price? Because that is the WORST.

For example: baskets. I see overpriced baskets EVERYwhere. And yes I know they’re super “in” right now and probably always will be to some extent, but that also means there is a surplus of them and you can probably hold out until a really good one comes along.

Wicker/rattan hutch found at an antique shop for $40; Canon film camera was a garage sale find that my cousin gave to me!

ALSO: Do your own price check! Look up the item online to see how expensive it would be on other sites such as Etsy, Ebay, Facebook Market, etc. 

Good luck and happy hunting!

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