Archive for the ‘Super Finds’ Category

Who needs the lottery?

March 21, 2010

My friend thinks I am so lucky; I can find such great bargains at yard sales and thrift shops. Her case in point is the high-end Kitchen Aid gas stove I bought at a yard sale last year for $300. (It works perfectly and is a huge improvement over the previous cheap, chipped and leaking GE model that came with my house.) I do agree with her that the stove is a great find, but that does not mean that I am lucky. It just means I know what I am looking for and am ready when it appears.  

It would be different if I found the stove the first time I ever went to a yard sale. That would be lucky. But I go a lot. So my chance of getting a bargain increases significantly. That is something my friend doesn’t get. I get the feeling she thinks she is doomed to a life of retail because her planets are not aligned right or something. Not so! You gotta go to the thrift stores and yard sales if bargains are what you want. It’s like the lottery – you can’t win if you don’t play.

Expect the Unexpected

February 12, 2010

You Find What You Want – Just When You Aren’t Looking For It

This past fall, I was on a kick to clear a small section of our woods. Once it was open enough to see through to the stone wall, all I wanted was an outdoor bench to sit on and enjoy my new space.

I looked at all the yard sales, the classifieds, and craigslist, but nothing was turning up. So I decided it was time to take a trip across the state line.

I headed to White River Junction, Vermont, to the ReCover Store. This store is the Thrift Shop version of Home Depot.  It is a nonprofit that helps to fund home repairs for disabled, low income, and elderly residents in the area. Since I was sure I would find the bench of my space-in-the-woods dreams, I drove our minivan so I could bring it home.

At the store, I had a great time browsing and dreaming through the housewares, books, cabinets, furniture, windows, doors and assorted building materials at The ReCover Store. But I did not see an outdoor bench. Hmmm. I finally bought a book on writing, and left, somewhat disappointed.

All was not lost, though, because I had looked up other thrift stores to visit while I was in town so I happily hauled the van around to explore. I found that the Second Hand Rose at the church was having a bag sale. I found the local Listen Thrift Store, a store that supports victims of domestic violence. And lastly, I found SEVCA (Southeastern Vermont Community Action) Thrift Store.

When I walked into SEVCA, I looked to my right and immediately forgot about my outdoor bench quest. There I saw a loveseat that looked like it was made to fit the space vacated by our piano six months ago. I casually (and cautiously) walked over to it, looked at the colors (brown with green tweed – nice), looked at the price ($100 for Pennsylvania House in excellent shape), and took out my measuring tape (just right). Could this be the one, after all this time?

I walked away from the loveseat onto the rest of the store. I found some pretty blue yarn (enough for a scarf), a pair of small binoculars, and a shirt for work. I paid for the small items and noticed that the store accepted charge cards. I walked over to the loveseat once more. I sat down on it.

This is the the loveseat. I added the pillows.

Understand – I don’t spend $100 easily. I reweighed the pros and cons of this purchase. Then a lightbulb went off in my head. I remembered that I had driven the van! I could see then, that all the pieces were in place for this purchase to happen –  and just when I least expected it.

Gifts from the Thrift Shop are Nothing to be Ashamed Of.

December 24, 2009

I started buying gifts for my three children from thrift shops out of necessity. We were broke.  So rather than burden their hopefull minds with excuses and apologies for “not getting much this year,” I got smart. I just shopped where I love to shop all year – at the thrift stores. This meant that the children never had to go without a variety of fun gifts under the Christmas tree.  

When the children were very little, it was all about toys with color and noise. These were easy to find in thrift stores, especially the stores that catered to children. Even if the toys weren’t in perfrct condition, a little soap and elbow grease made them sparkle, just like those tiny eyes.

As they grew, I could still find appropriate gifts that were special to them. I remember finding a beautiful tea set – in the box – that my daughter was thrilled with. There was the talking book that helped my son to learn how to read. The weaving kit that I bought my other daughter started her on her crafting way. I could even find educational computer games that matched our just-behind-the-times computer.

By now the children are on to me. And the things they have on their lists are too current to find at thrift shops. So I limit my thrift gifts to the truly unusual, not-to-be-found-elsewhere items. The great thing is that on Christmas morning those gifts still bring a sparkle to their eyes.

To Buy or Not to Buy, That is the Question

December 8, 2009

Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to let my daughter buy it herself.

My 15-year-old daughter and I are at one of our favorite thrift stores. It is 25 miles away, open on Sundays and at each visit we spend a minimum of one hour perusing the always-eclectic merchandise. We’d been there about 10 minutes when she appears to me, holding up a muted lime green ski jacket and sporting a hopeful grin on her face.

I mentally note that the jacket is clean, about her size and says Gortex at the bottom hem. These are all good indicators. But in my mind, I can see the nearly-new Columbia ski parka I bought for her (for $15) two years ago. (more…)

The Ordinary Becomes Extraordinary When it’s Only Twenty-five Cents

December 4, 2009

 My summer Saturday mornings are spent venturing our back roads to the local yard sales. Recently I stopped at one farmhouse that, at first glance, appeared to offer very little. The folding tables were lopsided on the lawn and held mostly rusty tools and dishes. The clothes arranged on the blanket on the grass were mostly men’s or clearly not my size. But then something caught my eye.

Many people ask if I made this hat. I didn't, but brag about it as if I did.

I saw the prettiest winter hat. Usually, the last thing I want to think about on a hot summer day is winter clothing, but this item made me think again. It was green (my favorite color) with blue and tan mixed into a fine geometric pattern. The fabric was thick but not too heavy. As a bonus, it had a fleece band around the inside. It fit snug and soft around my head. A quality item to be sure.

In truth, I don’t need another winter hat. Because I knit, there are plenty of hats in my house to choose from. Can I rationalize this purchase? Let’s see. I do face the elements for my work, so a good warm hat is a comfort. Naturally, I like variety. This green hat is like none other in my collection. I decided to ask the young lady the price. She looked at the hat and tilted her head side to side.

 “Twenty-five cents,” she said. That was the answer that made up my mind.

Now my hat is the coolest winter hat on the planet. I know part of what endears the hat to me is the fact that I found it at a yard sale and paid so little. In a retail shop, I would have admired but passed it up, no matter how beautiful or unique. Now I can wear this extraordinary garment but keep the price . . . under my hat.