Thrifting Tips, Tricks and Secrets

I love thrift shopping and today I want to share with you some of my best thrifting tips! I’m using the word thrifting to include shopping at yard sales, thrift shops, estate sales, flea markets and even antique shops. After years of having this activity occupy my time as a business, a hobby and a way to furnish my entire house I have learned a few things, things that I would love to share with you! Rather than listing some of the more obvious tips such as getting to sales early and hunting often, I have compiled a list of things that I have gleaned through my own experience and observations. These are the tried and true methods that have worked for me. Of course nothing is fail-proof and luck plays a large part in finding the goods.

Search as if someone hid a treasure and dared
you to find it.

A lovely heart shaped chair might be concealed behind a big sloppy piece of upholstery tacked on loosely, when closer inspection reveals its true shape.

Don’t overlook piles of new when looking for vintage.
Hidden treasure can be found in unlikely places. Never assume a collection of items on a table that looks like all new doesn’t have a vintage piece mixed in. Sometimes it pays to take a closer look.

Keep an open mind and try to see potential.
A dirty, grimy trophy vase bought for a dollar can be shined up to become the perfect vessel for a bouquet of pink peonies.



Scan each room with your eyes before looking intently at smaller sections of space.
Time is of the essence! This will enable you to zero in on specific areas of interest before methodically walking through.

Don’t get caught up in the frenzy. Take a deep breath!
I’ve seen frantic people with similar interests as me pass right on by items that I was able to pick up by remaining more calm and clear headed.

Leave no stone unturned.
Look under tables at items on the floor. I once found two gorgeous architectural pieces dated 1905 under a table on day three of an estate sale for $5 a piece.

Yes, it’s true. When I saw the pair of heart shaped French chairs at a flea market, they were completely camoflauged by pieces of needlepoint canvas that someone had tacked on. They appeared to have square backs and seats but when I peeled back the canvas just a little I could see the heart shaped seat and back. I wonder how many people walked right by them before I got there! I found the architectural pieces when I walked into a very picked-over estate sale. I looked under one of the tables and saw them. I was sure they must’ve been put there on hold for someone. So I asked about them and was told that they weren’t sold. My lucky day!

Have you developed your own strategy for scoring great finds? I would love to hear about them (if you want to reveal your secrets). And for more tips, check out this article that I was invited to contribute to.

Happy thrifting!


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2 thoughts on “Thrifting Tips, Tricks and Secrets

  1. This is a tip for eBay sellers: When I’m buying things for my shop and am planning to attend an auction, I will go through the pictures of what will be at the auction and then check under recently sold items one eBay. I’m not interested in the item for the shop, but if the price is right at the auction, I will bid on it to resell. For example, I was going to an auction that listed a 12 FLAIR magazines from, if I remember correctly, the 1950s. It was only published for one year because each copy had cutouts and strangley shaped pages all printed on very expensive paper. At that time, they were selling for 100.00 a magazine on eBay. I got the stack for 10.00 at the auction because no one knew what it was. I paid for everything I won for the shop on that trip with the sale of the magazines. It doesn’t happen all the time, but it pays to do research before one goes. Your post is so true and people really don’t look deeply enough. Last winter, I won a framed piece of cloth at an auction for 10.00. I didn’t see one person look at it as it hung on the wall, but I knew it was something. I didn’t know what it was at the time. I later confirmed with an expert/author in Hungarian weapons (on-line) that it was a bandana with printed directions for how to take apart and clean a rare rifle from 1848 assigned to the infantry during the Hungarian Revolution. I don’t carry war items in the shop, but I think I will find someone who appreciates what it is. It has actually been leaning against the wall of my shop for six months…not one person has looked at it. It was in someone’s pocket (It is 1 yard x 1 yard.) in 1848 and made it through the Revolution. I just need a Hungarian customer!

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