10 Tips To Thrift / by Brooke Courtney

I get a lot of comments, mostly on Instagram, about how, and where, and when and how often I thrift. So I figured I would write a post with my Top 10 tips to thrift by! So, here goes, in no particular order.

1. Know your style. or find it.

This is something that took me awhile to figure out. It took me while to realize what decades I am drawn to most, what colors and finishes work best in my house and that I often buy things simply because I find them funny. Several weeks ago I bought a planter that is a white pig wearing red suspenders. I actually laughed out loud when I saw it. I had no reason to buy it, but I did. And now it’s sitting on a shelf in my Dad’s recording studio… and it looks awesome. Before I really knew my style I would have hesitated to buy something so silly.

My style is modern-vintage with a dash of whimsy and mid-century. Brass and anything animal shaped catches my eye. Lately I gravitate towards items from the 70′s, for their use of natural colors and textures, and items from the 60′s due to the patterns and clean lines in the furniture. I love anything that’s heavily typography based. I have a thing for thin gold frames and Fire King coffee mugs. And like I said above, before I learned these things about myself from shopping at thrift stores for a few months, I would go into every store and feel like it was all junk. I couldn’t see past the ugly items and certainly didn’t know what I was looking for. But it was worth the time to figure out my style!! Keep track of all of the things you buy at first. Be selective with your first handful of purchases. Then, when you get home, Google them. Read about them. Analyze why you bought what you bought. Learn what you like – so when you see that amazing, vintage, in perfect condition chair of your dreams for a high price, you’re not afraid to pull the trigger.

2. Look at shape, not color.

Many of the awesome things I find while thrifting are usually a terrible color when I buy them. Lamps, frames, animal figurines, side tables… anything! If it’s a decent price, but ugly color, consider spray painting it. Probably gold. (Lamp above was a terrible shade of mauve and grass green - clearly I spray painted it white and left the gold and wood sections as they were.)

3. Walk through the store more than once.

It never fails I find lots of great items my second or third lap around store. It takes my brain awhile to really see everything on the shelves. Especially in the stores that aren’t organized or clean.

4. Have a running list of top things you’re looking for.

While every thrifting trip ends with a few odd-ball items that I just couldn’t leave on the shelves, most of my purchases were “planned.” My current list consists of outdoor furniture, children's books, larger frames, monochromatic linens, and plant stands. Knowing what’s on my “I actually need this for something” list helps me decide whether to buy an entire vintage wooden ship collection or the handful of frames and linens I could actually use.

5. Shop at the same place again and again.

(Unless it really sucks the first time you go.) One of my favorite places to shop is the little thrift place right down the street from me. I have shopped there probably 50 times in the last few years. I know when they get new things. I know their price ranges. I know their sales. It’s just nice to know several of your favorite stores really well. It helps me compare one store to the next.

6. Always find more places to shop.

While it’s best to visit the same shops more than once, it’s also great to constantly be on the look out for new ones. I have found quite a few new stores by asking the person at the register “Are there any other thrift stores in this area?” More than once they’ve told me about one that my iPhone doesn’t know about!

7. Shop often!

This is kind of common sense. The more you shop, the more you’ll find. DUH.

8. Don’t give up.

While I haven’t been doing as much thrifting lately, the little bit I have found lately has been preeeeettty lame. But that just happens sometimes. People aren’t donating. Others beat me to the purchase. I’m not taking enough time to actually dig around and find the best items. But, never give up! Try and try again. You will find that brass unicorn you’ve been searching for.

9. If you love it, but have no use for it, buy it and give it away.

Thrifting has allowed me to give my loved ones small but thoughtful gifts. I found a cooking utensil for $2.00 that was exactly like the one my Mom had, but lost awhile back. She never stopped talking about “that brownie fork”. So when I found it, I bought it. I mean, it was only $2.00! There are things I’ve snagged for friends and family like books and plates and records. I love giving them items that mean a lot and bring back memories. And better yet when I can find them for only dollars!!

10. Research and compare prices online.

And this is where my iPhone saves the day again. More than once I’ve been in the back corner of a semi-creepy thrift store, with what I think is an overpriced yet amazing item in hand, and I’ll look it up online. Usually I realize that the price is actually not that bad, and that if I was to order it online and pay for shipping and handling, it would be the same price. Or, I realize that it’s over priced and not that “one of a kind” after all, seeing that dozens and dozens of listings are popping up.

Hope those tips are helpful and that you enjoyed the random photos of my house. Happy Thrifting!

xox