Treasure Hunting 101

So many of you have responded to my Instagram Stories letting me know I’ve inspired you to get out and shop second hand. Do it! Its good for the environment as well as our wallets and when you score big its suuuuuch an incredible feeling. I encourage you to get out there even though it worries me you’ll be stepping on my turf! Ha! Kidding, kinda.

The last couple weeks and months I’ve been thrifting like its my job. Well, because it kind of is. I shop for myself more than I should, but I’m mostly buying to style client homes. Bookcases need more than just books so I’m usually on the lookout for interesting #shelfie moments and accessories.

I got the love of ‘the hunt’ from my mom, and when I was younger we’d get up early and hit up garage sales negotiating things down from a quarter to a nickel. Ha! To me there is nothing more thrilling than finding something one-of-a-kind for next to nothing. I can tell stories about many objects in my home, the deals I’ve found and the people I met along the way.

To me, thrifting is anything second-hand so includes garage sales, flea markets, estate sales, Craigslist, Facebook resale sites and of course actual thrift stores. There are deals and cool stuff to be found everywhere, you just need to know where to look and keep your eyes open.

So for those who didn’t grow up doing this, and don’t have all the free time in the world, I have some tips for you.

Cheat Sheet

The more you play, the more you win. Its kind of like winning the lottery. If you only play once a year, the chances of winning go way down. But if you buy a ticket every week… Ok, maybe I shouldn’t equate it to a gambling habit but its all about consistency for better odds.

Start scanning for thrift stores on your daily route. Figure out which ones have the best mix of stuff at good prices and get to know the lay of the land. If you hit up the good ones regularly, then you can be efficient, kinda like your neighborhood grocery store. You can stop in, go right to your favorite sections and notice the new stuff. I pop into my faves once a week or so and can be in and out in 15 minutes. Sometimes I drive by and get ‘a feeling’ that I should pull over and go in. It usually pays off, and yes I’m weird.

Set your intention. I usually go in looking for up to 3 types of things (same for the antique faire) so I can scan shelves and tables quickly. I’m trying to be quick and its easy to speed read the store if you know what you’re looking for. If I’m not looking for something specific, my go tos, as you can probably guess are: ceramics, art, and furniture. If something else catches my eye, great.

Negotiate respectfully. Asking for a better price isn’t rude unless you’re rude about it.  You can usually tell if you’re talking to a decision maker or not, but the smaller owner-operated shops will make deals, as well as flea markets. I usually make an offer: “Would you do $8 on this?” If its reasonable they almost always say yes, especially if you bundle multiple items together. Did you know you can even ask at large (non-thrift) retailers? Politely ask a manager if they have any promotions or room for a percentage off. A lot of times they will!

Have a car kit. Since I never know when I might swoop into a shop I always have a tape measure with me and wet wipes in the car. I love looking through old stuff but ya, its grimy work so be prepared! 

Give back! Now that I have my favorite spots I also donate to them. I try to clean out closets fairly regularly and there are always toys and clothes that we’ve outgrown so will drop off a load every few weeks. Its a win-win!

“Can I come with you?” is a question I get asked a lot. I pretty much only go by myself or with my mom because to me thrifting is a competitive sport! I like to get in and out with my prizes. The exception is flea markets because they can be fun a fun all-day event to dawdle around and chat with friends. So if I do happen to be with friends I have us all set our intentions which helps in two ways. 1. We can each have an extra set of eyes on the lookout for something particular. 2. You can call dibs in advance on the type of thing you’re looking for. So if someone is looking for brass animal sculptures (it happens) they get first pick on them.

I hope this helps and encourages you to find some gems out there! Please share them with me on Instagram if you do!




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