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!!


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