Sunday, January 25, 2009

Vintage Fashion Rave?

Sunday's are great Flea Market days. But this Sunday was special. It kicked off with a Vintage Fashion Rave! What is that you say? Well, we set out to answer this very question at 10am this morning!

MaryAnn Harris, a vintage fashion legend here in Ottawa, orchestrated a day of great deals on some of her fabulous vintage clothing and jewelery collection. Everything was 50% off (OMG). Her house was transformed into a Reclectica store ... complete with shopping baskets, a free "reclectica dollar' upon arrival, a change room, snacks, and an overall warm and cozy feel! Guests were encouraged to wear their favourite vintage duds to the event, and 'staff' were dressed to the nines. Add it all together, and you've got a vintage fashion rave.

I got out alive -- but not empty handed. B'en non.

My focus: pearls, blingy earings or brooches, 1950's dresses.

The result: pearls, blingy earings, fantastic hat, girly aprons!

I LOVE PEARLS!!! A friend recommended that I have a photoshoot with all my pearls as a nod to a famous picture of Marilyn Monroe with all her pearls. Key difference - mine wouldn't be real. Plastic pearls are simply undervalued. LOL. At the end of the day, oodles of pearls = divine fabulousness.

APRONS are just about the cutest addition to a hostess' outfit for a dinner party or bruncheon! You know, a little domestication never hurt anyone ... even if it's just in one's outfit. Good quality, good condition, frilly aprons can be tricky to find in thrift stores! So voila ... two great finds at the vintage fashion rave. One will be the perfect additon to a Valentine's Day meal ... perhaps breakfast in bed for my one and only!?

The HAT was an unexpected find ... it's absolutely adorable, but more worthy of a live shot. It's black with a big bow in the front - almost tam like. It looked to lifeless laying there on the floor. Unfortunately I don't have a hat stand to display her.

No luck on the 1950's dresses. My search continues!! MaryAnn mentioned that she has some in stock, but decided not to include them in the sale. I don't blame her, they're hard to find. I was reassured that they would be proudly displayed at the Spring Garage Sale at Landsdowne Park in April. Check out my Ottawa Events post for show details!
I'm hoping that with the increased popularity of tv show Mad Men, and a general influx of 1950's vintage in the mainstream interior design world -- that it, too, will make it's way into the fashion scene ... with many sizes and options to choose from.

After the vintage fashion rave we headed over to Bentley's Flea Market (Merivale & Cleopatra)... my FIRST visit, but not the last!! I brought a girlfriend with me who just died over the great jewelery -- brooches, bracelets, and more!! I died over well -- everything! I showed great restraint ... but did find the perfect ice cream bowls. They're from the 1950's, lime green, and originally terms Sherbet bowl. Yeahhhh. The vendors are very friendly, not too stuffy, and a number of the booths were quite well priced as.

The exposure to this Ottawa secret definitely paid it forward, thrifting style. We will be back.

I can smell a tradition brewing.... Sunday Thrifting Church anyone?

God life is good. Get out there an enjoy it!


Oh Vintage Owls ... how I long for thee!

Without even knowing it -- I started a new collection! Ooops! It happened a little while back when I stumbled across this very adorable owl statue from VV. He had a few chips off his ear and beak, but had fantastic character. I knew he needed a good home. So home he came. A couple weeks after that, another owl crossed my path. I think he's actually one of those owls people buy to scare off other birds from chillin' on their balconies. Who would do such a thing!!? So home he came.

The two owls are now happily perched on top of our closet in the front hall. It's a perfect space, but they're getting lonely. Since those two lucky finds, I have yet to come across another.

After countless missions and no luck, the itch got stronger. In preparation for a cathartic blogging session about owls, a quick Google search for 'vintage owls' yielded the image to the left. It was actually a pic from a blog called Design*Sponge ... highlighting some beautiful vintage owls from Etsy: bluebellbazaar! I quickly went on the site, but no such luck ... they had been sold!! I emailed the vendor (Gosia) and she responded almost ins
tantly! I'm now on her mailing list to find out when new gems get posted. Success. Fingers crossed.

We all have our vices. Mine seem to be centred around forest animals and dwellers -- owls, deers, squirrels, acorns, sticks, and birds. hmmmm. I suppose it could be worse. For now, I'll relish in the amazing experiences of the weekend!!! My first visit to Bentley's Flea Market and a trip to MaryAnn Haris' Vintage Fashion Rave at her home. More to come on that!

Ottawa might not be such a bad thrifting city after all. Just takes some digging into the subculture of the thrifting world. Diamond in the rough.


Saturday, January 24, 2009

A Guide to Thrifting: Part 1

There are many veterans out there - in the wild and wonderful world of thrifting - with great wisdom and insights. I aspire to one day be one of those veterans. In doing so, I commit to doing my best to document these travels, share tricks of the trade, and impart some of the ideas that work for me. I also plan to pick up a few of the books mentioned in an earlier blog -- no doubt many great thrift hunts have been brilliantly documented.

A Guide to Thrifting: Part 1

1. Have a plan. Whenever possible, have a plan. It's easy to get overwhelmed and lose focus. Decide in advance what you're hunting for that day. Whether it be a particular room (dining room, kitchen, bedroom) or particular item (dishes, jewelery, picture frames), zero in on that area of the store and focus your time there.

2. Take your time. When setting out for a thrift experience, you give yourself lots of time. Don't rush. Scan the shelves slowly -- and if possible, double back over the same area twice!! New items will pop out the second or third time around! The time factor is especially true if you're going to a Flea Market, large Antique store, or new spot. If you only have an hour to shop, don't try to cover the whole store. Focus your time in one area. Ideally, you have a whole day ... but sometimes the best time to go is on a weekday morning. The stores are quiet and new items have just been put out.

3. Bring cash. Smaller stores may or may not have debit. Cash can also be a negotiating tool. If you only have a certain number of dollars, you can use that as your best offer. Carrying cash can also be a way to manage your budget. If you only want to spend $20, bring $20 cash with you and stop there.

4. Collect, then sort. Whenever possible, take a basket or cart. It's best to grab whatever catches your eye, then sort through your basket at the end. It's okay to put things back -- someone will be glad you did. Not only will this ensure you get first dibs on taking that treasure home, but it will also give you time to plan out where it will live when it gets home, which items may be given as gifts, or whether you really need that piece today!

5. Go often!! This may be the most important one of all. Frequency is key. Some trips may not be very fruitful. Don't be discouraged ... it's the thrill of the hunt that makes the find truly rewarding. You may also get to know the salespeople, who can give you tips on when new merchandise is put out, or even keep an eye on certain things for you. Frequent thrifting can be challenging for a few reasons, 1) The hours of these stores may not align with your work schedule during the week - this drives me nuts, or 2) You may have a number of spots you like to hit -- where to go and when, oh my!?!?, 3) You may end up spending way more than you expect - this requires diligence and focus. Give it a shot ... even pick a day of the week and stick to that schedule.

... to be continued!!


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Thrift-worthy Events in Ottawa

One of my earlier posts referenced a fabulous "Vintage Fashion Rave" that's coming up in January ... but this past weekend I stumbled upon a few more, and thought it would be ThriftKitty worthy to share them with fellow thrifters:

Vintage Fashion Rave
Sunday, January 25
10am - 4pm
1495 Chomley Crescent (off Coronation Ave)

Yesteryear Antique Fair
February 13 - February 15
Friday: 5pm - 9pm
Saturday: 10am - 5pm
Sunday: 10am - 4pm
Nepean Sportsplex
1701 Woodroffe Avenue

Vintage Fashion Sale - Round II
Sunday, March 1st
11am - 3pm
1495 Chomley Crescent
Amazing pieces - Cash only - Great deals!

Antiques & Vintage Living
March 27 - 29
October 23-25
Friday: 5pm - 9pm
Saturday: 10am - 5pm
Sunday: 10am - 4pm
The Fieldhouse
Carleton University
Bronson & Sunnyside (for a reminder and discount pass)

Spring Garage Sale
April 18 & 19
Landsdowne Park
Sat & Sun: 9am - 4pm
Coliseum Building

Capital Clothing Show
May 8-10
Friday: 5pm - 9pm
Saturday: 10am - 5pm
Sunday: 10am - 4pm
The Fieldhouse
Carleton University
Bronson & Sunnyside

Great Glebe Garage Sale
Saturday, May 23, 2009

New Edinburgh Garage Sale
Saturday in September 2009
Details TBD

Old Ottawa South Garage Sale
September 5, 2009

See you there!


Monday, January 19, 2009

Vintage Shopping: Online!

Today is the day of Vintage!

Lulu's Vintage held a 2008 People's Choice Awards for the best vintage sites. What a great service ... talk about narrowing down the search for us newbies!!

Here are the winners:

Dorothea's Closet Vintage
Sweet Cherry Vintage
Dandelion Vintage

Daisy Fairbanks
Damn Good Vintage
Vintage Secret
Fast Eddie's Retro Rags
Sydneys Vintage Clothing

I'll work my way through this list and report back on which sites ship to Canada. I've found that a number of the vendors on Etsy won't ship to Canada.

Happy shopping!!


Vintage Calendars: Re-use at its best!!

Thanks to a great thrifty blog, WISEBREAD, I have an exciting new thrift hunting mission: Vintage Calendars!!

What better way to:
1) Add character to your kitchen or cubical wall with a piece no one else can match, and
2) Collect great prints at reasonable prices to put in your fantastic vintage frames.

I don't know about you, but I'm completely addicted to ornate vintage frames. Sometimes they come with fantastic old prints or art within, but other times, the best deals are frames only. A solution has been found. Yeahh!!

So what's the catch --
Time & Date. Use this smarty-pants website to determine which years from the early 1900's match 2009 (or any year to come).

There are so many wise people out there! Thanks WISEBREAD.


Friday, January 16, 2009

Spot on: Personal Provenance

In my blog readings this evening, I came across a local blogger known as "girlaboutOtown". She recently published an article in Ottawa Focus, and I thought it was perfectly spot on.

The article is about "Provenance", which is defined by
the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary as "the history of ownership of a valued object, or work of art, or literature." The article encourages us to ditch that cookie-cutter image of design and style -- be YOU -- make your interior design and even your personal style more meaningful. Value the origins of each an every piece. Whether it's sentimental value, a sense of history, the story behind the find, or simply the I LOVE THIS PIECE factor. Storing everything away and over de-cluttering can be too sterile.

This concept is the cornerstone of not-so-new, vintage, thrift, consignment or antique shopping. Very fitting.

The article is definitely worth a read, check it out. Then read up on the writer behind the article ... girlaboutOtown.

I'm impressed. Inspired.


Mission .... Achieved!

I set out to hit at least one thrift spot before end of day Friday.

I ended up working until after 6pm every night which means that most non-boxstore, non-mall establishments are closed.
That said, I persevered to ensure that my mission was achieved. Barely. I hit a pretty standard spot: Value Village on Bank and Walkley. I've found a few gems here (namely, my first owl sculpture: picture to follow soon) -- so I continue to return in hopes of uncovering a rare deal or amazing find.

My take-homes today were the following ...

* Great old wood frame and print
* Queen Anne creamer

Mini rant ... it seems to me that Value Village's prices are a little steep for a store that has all of their merchandise DONATED FOR FREE. It seems to have become a highly commercialized machine. Anything that holds a stronger retail value, or may be considered vintage is marked way up! Not to mention, on more than one occaision I've overheard families complain about the prices. Sure, the price points are lower than what you'd pay for new items. But come on, that's the point. In my heart of hearts, I feel that Value Village is to grass roots thrift shops, what boxstores are to cute original boutiques.

for a great example of what a true blue thrift shop should be ... check out Generations on Bridgeport Road next time you're in Waterloo, Ontario! Yes, this is my hometown and a great spot my mom discovered. They organize everything so adorably, items are presented cleanly and professionally, they have rock bottom prices, and really great stuff!! I'm always impressed!!

Keep your eyes out for those super gems in Ottawa, and I will continue to do the same. Maybe Sunday will bring me a window of opportunity to hit a new spot!


Monday, January 12, 2009

Thrifting Withdrawal

I'm the first to admit that I have a problem. Yes, I have a shopping disease.

A good dose of retail therapy has solved some very serious issues in the past!! BUT, even when everything is roses and kittens, I tend to go into withdrawal when I haven't shopped in a while. But, recently, the disease evolved. It got worse - or better, depending on how you look at it! I'd say this disease would now be classified by experts the world over as a Thrifting Addition. I'm full fledged addicted to the thrifting thrill.

Here's the proof.

On Saturday night, I met up with a couple girlfriends. Before we hit the Black Tomato for dinner (which was delicious by the way), we stopped at Zone on Sussex. Not thrifty -- but such a fun spot and they had some decent sales.

Yes, I broke, I splurged. I purchased an item that I've been drooling over for MONTHS: the "Village Cuckoo" Clock. Wish I had found a vintage version (trust me, I've been searching for a while), but this version seemed like the perfect combination of vintage and modern -- a harmony my BF likes to achieve. And yes, it was on sale!

Point of the story? This shopping splurge didn't feed my addiction at all! Here I am on Monday evening and I'm dying to hit one of my fave thrift spots -- or perhaps try a new one! Finding something totally unexpected, imagining the piece's past life, planning out where it will live when it comes home with me, and well, the thrill of being thrifty. So good.

The tricky part is they all tend to close before I get off work.

Mark my words -- I'll fill the fix by Friday.


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Vintage Fashion Rave

I stumbled across this -- hmmmm -- not sure how, but here it is! Pass it along.


Sunday, January 25, 10am - 4pm

1495 Chomley Crescent, Ottawa

MaryAnn Harris is hosting a VINTAGE FASHION RAVE, featuring a sublime selection of vintage clothing, jewellery, shoes, purses, hats, and so on, all at SHOCKINGLY LOW PRICES.
Hope you'll dress up for this one! This party is by word of mouth only. Tell all your friends! MaryAnn can be reached at (or) 613-720-9242.

MaryAnn Harris (the host of this event) also has a Facebook Group: Ottawa Vintage Fashion News.


Thrift Reading!

So, it turns out that quite a few BOOKS have been written about this amazing hobby, past time - or dare I say lifestyle! I'm not entirely surprised, but certainly thrilled. So many have walked this path before me. I have so much to learn!

Do date, I have not yet plunged into this newly found book genre, but look forward doing so. How fun would it be to find one of these at a thrift store?! Sounds like I have a mini-mission on my hands.

Charity Shopping and the Thrift Lifestyle
Lettice Wilkinson

History of the Thrift Movement in America
Simon William Straus

The Thrift Book
India Knight

Thrift: A Cyclopedia
David Blankenhorn

Thrift: How to Have a Stylish Home Without Breaking the Bank
Bridget Bodoano

Thrift Score: The Stuff, The Method, The Madness!
Al Hoff

Thrift Store: The Past & Future Secret Lives of Things
Emily Larned

Subversive Seamster: Transform Thrift Store Threads into Street Couture
Melissa Alvarado et al

Have you read one of these written journeys?
If so, I'd love to hear about it! BlogBookClub anyone?


Thrifting in Ottawa

A key element of this journey is to first sleuth down the best thrift spots in Ottawa. So much fun!

... please come back and visit this post often. I hope to develop some sort of rating system, as well as figure out a better way to list and display Ottawa's thrifting finds. But in the meantime, I will simply update this post as the list evolves.

NOTE: Included in this list are thrift, consignment, vintage, and antique shops.

Please send me any others that I have not yet visited or posted!!!

Alphabetically speaking:



505 Gladstone
(613) 565-3497

Wedgewood Plaza (Moodie South Exit - Turn Left, Right on Robertson)
150 Robertson Road, Nepean
(613) 820-9253

154 Somerset Street
(613) 594-8861

1273 Wellington Street West

(613) 722-7166

THIFT STORE - Altavista

2659 Alta Vista Drive
(613) 523-9059


1320 Carling Avenue
(613) 728-2145

1558 Merivale Road
(613) 225-4521


1490 Richmond Road
(613) 726-7136

VALUE VILLAGE - Bank & Walkley
1824 Bank Street
(613) 526-5551

1375 Clyde Avenue
(613) 288-1390


1221 Cyrville Road
(613) 749-4977


1877 Merivale Road
(613) 596-4141

1500 Bank Street
(613) 739-1500

90 Robertson Road East
(613) 726-3893

2 Ullswater Drive (Nepean)
(613) 667-9631

1440 Wellington Street West
(613) 724-4874


1979 St Joseph Boulevard, Orleans
(613) 841-1894


209 Gilmour Street
(613) 565-0564

1094 Wellington Street / Somerset West
Note: Very irregular hours, but worth it!

43 Flora Street
(613) 233-6940

246 Dalhousie Street (by St.Patrick)
(613) 321-1590


1096 Somerset Street West
(613) 729-1388

1179 Bank Street
(613) 730-6000

1206 Bank Street
(613) 247-0662

1240 Bank Street
(613) 739-9580


Old Hwy 17
417W to Exit 169 (Kinburn sideroad),
Turn Right, go to the flashing lights at Old Hwy 17,
Turn Right and go about 1km

7 Cleopatra Drive
(Corner of Merivale and Cleopatra)
Open Sundays, 9:00am - 5:00pm

(613) 225-5613

2079 Carp Road
417 W to Carp Road, Turn Left on Carp Road
Open Sundays, 9:00am - 5:00pm

260 McArthur Road
Vanier Columbus Club
(613) 297-0648
Open Sundays, 9:00am - 4:00pm

Ottawa Urban Market
1750 Innes Road (Innes Road Plaza)
Mon: CLOSED Until June 1st, 2009
Tue - Fri: 9:30 AM - 7:00 PM
Sat: 9:00 - 7:00 PM
Sun: 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM

** Grand Opening Sale: Sat, Feb 28, 9am - 7pm **

Happy thrifting!


Saturday, January 3, 2009

A thrifting journey begins ...

I recently stumbled across a new passion: Thrifting! Oh the thrill of thrifting. The sweet sweet pleasure of finding that deliciously perfect treasure. The addiction.

I'm not entirely sure where or how this began. That said, quick analysis would point a few key contributing factors -- a mother with expert thrifting skills, a debilitating love for shopping, owning my first home with lots of rooms to fill, a new found love for vintage, ornate, and kitschy decorating, and an absolute inability to find deals when clothes shopping (it's all about balance, isn't it).

I'm starting out small, but the plan is to grow into a full out "thriftkitty queen" ... one day. Patience dear tadpole, patience.

So, what is thrifting you say?

The Wikipedia definition of thrifting is pretty close to mine:

"Thrifting refers to the act of shopping at a thrift store, [consignment shop], flea market, garage sale, or a shop of a charitable organization, usually with the intent of finding interesting items at a cheap price. A larger philopsophy permeates the act of thrifting which celebrates the recyling of formally-owned items, finding new use and new love for vintage material goods which had been thrown out, and the thrill of imaging what the former life of the item was like."

Why a blog you ask?

When starting this journey, I realized that there weren't many resources readily available. Where does one find these ever elusive Estate Sales? Where are the best local thrift stores, consignment shops, and flea markets?
Who will help me learn the tricks of the trade? How frustrating!!

Okay. Frustrating perhaps ... but also an opportunity.

My plan = create a blog that documents my journey, shares resources, tips, tricks, and some of my best finds!

I'm new to this and a very busy girl, so please be patient, share your own ideas and great finds, and of course support!

Let the journey begin!