There are those who don't love thrifting. That's fine. That leaves more for me to sift and thrift, which I am totally OK with. But, *sigh*, if you're reading this post, you are more likely the kind who loves to thrift. Reluctantly (but also very eagerly), I will share my thrift hunting strategies with you.
I have found some of my favorite home decor/useful pieces (let's not forget William Morris' adage "Have nothing in your house you do not find useful, or believe to be beautiful") have come from previously owned, thrifted items. That's not to say I have found uses for ALL of the thrifted items I've purchased, but at the very least, I do find them all to be beautiful in their own way.
Here are my tips on thrifting, based on my experiences:
1. Check out every thrift/consignment store you can. Once you know what kind of inventory the shops hold or rotate through, you can choose your favorites to frequent.
Try out every thrift store you can to see their inventory.
2. Go frequently to your favorites. My favorite thrift store receives a large volume of stuff, but they move it all out on a regular basis with sales. If I don't go often, I miss out on some real goodies.
These treasures were luck of the draw one Tuesday afternoon.
3. If something snags your attention, pick it up and carry it with you, or leave it at the front with the cashier. If you don't, someone else will pick it up, and you've lost out, whether or not you ultimately purchase your something. You can always put it back.
Grab them all! Then put some back.
4. Check all of your thrifty, interesting items for quality and damage. Depending on what you plan for your items, you want to make sure they are in good condition (unless you're specifically hunting out the really rustic items for show only).
Check out the bones of an item. If they're good, keep considering to buy it. If not, set it down and walk away (or in the case of this sofa, you would just walk away- come on).
5. Shop with a thrift-loving friend. If you don't have one, shop alone. Whatever you do, don't thrift with someone who doesn't enjoy thrifting. They cramp your style. (You know who you are, style-crampers.)
My sister-in-law was along for the thrifting hunt and supported my decision to buy this awesome salvaged woodburning stove.
6. Thrift while you travel. Don't pass up the opportunity to acquire some really amazing treasures while you are globe-trotting. Before you travel, do a little research and put together some thrift shops that are around your destination. Create a shipment plan for anything you can't fit in your suitcase. Or thrift another suitcase! (Did that in Seattle.)
This beauty came in handy when I purchased too many treasures in Seattle to fit in the suitcase I had brought.
Once you get your treasures back home, be sure to clean and deodorize them thoroughly. Most of the time, I simply wipe all surfaces thoroughly with my All Purpose Cleaner. The vinegar kills any lurking mold or mildew spores. Some things require a light sanding and paint or other finish, like the chair below.
Other things, like suitcases (or other cases), benefit from being opened up and aired outside in the bright sunshine for a day or two.
If you can't clean your found treasures with simple methods, it may not be worth it, so be judicious in your sifting process.