Saturday, September 8, 2012

Thrifting wins and woes.

I was about to say, "Thrifting, where have you been all my life?", and I realized that I should edit it to say "all of my adult life", because we frequented the local Salvation Army on what felt like a weekly basis when I was a kid. It's just that, back then, that wasn't considered "thrifting" - that was simply our "shopping". If we weren't given a hand-me-down for something, we'd have to buy it at the Salvation Army. And I guess after such a long time of used, yucky junk being my ONLY junk, I had the wrong idea. Now that it's not necessary to hit up these discount places to fill my wardrobe and furnish my home (and not in a crafty, what-can-I-turn-this-into way), I've realized what a GOLDMINE of craft supplies these stores are! And thrifting is fun!

The only problem is, I kind of suck at it.

The stores really aren't that big of problem, honestly. I mean, okay, they're a problem - as in, it's insanely addicting, and there's so much to look at, and they have new things every day, so ohmygoshlet'sgobackagainandagainandagain. But what I mean is - they even have signs posted, asking you NOT to haggle or negotiate with them. Purchases at these stores become donations for people in need, and haggling your $1 bargain to $.50 robs the needy of 50% more help. Logically.

But garage sales? Oye. Some people are masters at getting the best deal ever, while I either buy something for the price they put on it, or I don't buy it. I feel bad ripping people off. I KNOW that you're "meant" to haggle at garage sales, or whatever, but I still can't believe the audacity of some people. I held a garage sale two years ago, and this woman, who could barely speak english, collected a massive pile of my best junk. She had a good $25 worth of stuff, and she wanted to pay $2 for ALL of it. Come on! She had a screaming baby in her car, and yet she would not let it go - she tossed aside all of my counter-offers, insisting on paying me $2, while her baby wailed with increasing anger. I finally gave it all to her for $5, just so her poor child would no longer be neglected, but I was seriously MAD that I let all my stuff go for that little cash. What an outrage. And a major win on her part. Maybe I need to borderline neglect my kids to get a good deal next time I'm shopping. Only, I'M A DECENT HUMAN BEING.

I'm simply too soft for hardcore thrifting.

Here's what I mean.

Recently, I hit up a Good Will & a Salvation Army with a friend of mine, and found a bunch of things I needed for planned craft projects. I loved it SO MUCH, that I went back two days later, and found even more goodies.

I have a little garden party theme going on in my kitchen, complete with double-decker shelves, stocked with little potted plants in pastel-painted pots (p, p, p, p, p!). I bought these to stick between the plants, and of course, be adorable.

I have no idea what these are for yet. Just, doilies! If I'm able to find & collect enough of them, I'll probably sew them together and use them as a table runner, a la pinterest. Or make a garland, maybe.


This is a lace shower curtain that I think I paid $1 or $2 for. I got it for misc sewing projects, but I almost couldn't bear to cut it up. I realized it wouldn't work in either of my bathrooms right now, and I could probably find a replacement someday at like, the dollar store. Or another Good Will.


I love this granny chic-y yellow pillow case! I WISH there had been two, because I would have actually used them on my bed. But, since there was only one, I've been using it in misc. projects. I was clueless when I purchased it, but it's by Cannon Royal Family, which is a pretty popular vintage linen brand!

On the left is actually a ruffly crib skirt, which I didn't realize when I bought it. I love it so much, and it fits my dream concept for a future girl's room (if I ever have one!), and being one to dream big, I've set it aside for my someday-daughter. Oh please, oh please! The sheet on the right is for projects, that I haven't gotten around to yet.

T-shirts! I actually have a couple more that aren't pictured...a couple of brown & grey ones. I got all of these for about $2 each, and they are going to be turned into scarves! I've been collecting tutorials, and I just have to decide which color I want to do which tutorial with!

Believe it or not, despite my bad youthful experience with thrifting and thinking that buying clothes at the salval was only for crafting or intentionally dressing like a goofball, like at Halloween or something, I found legitimately wearable clothes. Seriously. I paid $2 - $3 for each of these AND I LOVE THEM. They are so wonderful, and I'm so excited to wear them this fall!

I also found all of these frames (and a total of 4 embroidery hoops) between two trips. Pay no attention to what's in them, because this was the very beginning of my planned kiddo art gallery wall, which is now complete & on the wall - aside from the embroidery I plan to add to it, which I'm thinking of making bigger than the little hoop I've got up there. Process pictures coming soon :)

Another thrifting beast, one that I know much more about and tamed over two years ago now, is Consignment Sale shopping. I'm not talking about Consignment stores, because while still thrifty - they don't compare to the event sales. The prices are SO much cheaper at sales, and there's almost always a 50% off day, where yes, you get half off an already incredible steal. They usually have these sales in themes - though I've really only run into child/maternity and christmas ones - and they pop up randomly all over the place. I found out about the two I attend every year through Craigslist.

I recently went to visit my sister in Syracuse, and there just happened to be a consignment sale going on over the weekend I was there. So we made plans to attend the 50% off day. I didn't find very much for my oldest - everything good had already been shopped out. But I pretty much completed the baby's fall & winter wardrobe. I can't recall what I paid for each thing, but I'll tell you that my total was $49....a price that I'd usually pay for 5 pairs of kids jeans when they are on sale and I have a coupon. And I just happen to have picked up 5 pairs of brand name jeans at this sale, so everything else was bonus as far as I'm concerned!

(BTW, when I shop these sales, I only ever buy brand-name stuff, that isn't stained or pilly, though I give a little bit of forgiveness to PJs, because they don't wash as well.)

This was ALL I found for my 3 year old!

But check out the incredible deals I found for my 1 year old!


There's no negotiating at Consignment sales either, because the prices are set ahead of time by consigners (individual people), and the cashiers are simple the people hosting the sale. They can't make any exceptions for other people's things. Easy peasy.

But ohhh, the garage sale.

I LOVE IT when garage sale people just automatically give you a deal. In fact, I kind of count on it. Like if I have $12 worth of stuff, maybe they don't have change for a twenty and just say "Oh just give me $10". And then we all win. But of course, this doesn't always happen.

It certainly didn't happen on Thursday. 

I was out alone with my oldest - I took him to open house at his preschool while my in-laws watched the baby for me. There was a garage sale happening on the route between his preschool & their house, in a pretty swanky neighborhood, so I HAD to stop! I found a cute shirt for Luke for $2, a set of 5 embroidery hoops for $1, a few kids books for $.50.....and then, the lace jackpot! This woman had boxes and bins of lace - mostly various sets of curtains. I wanted it ALLLL! I have so many projects planned with lace. I have a specific project I've been dying to start on, but the lace shower curtain I pictured above was too white for my intended use. I wanted something more yellowed, creamy, and weathered, and with more of a design. She had a PERFECT set! She saw me looking, and pulled out four matching panels with tie backs, four valences, and these extra pieces to go between the panels. She kept talking about how they were "great curtains, from JC Penny's" and how they were "perfect, no spots on them at all!". I could tell by her high praise, mixed with decorating suggestions, and the way she had them all neatly safety-pinned together, that she was not letting them go for cheap. She wanted $30 for the pile she pulled out!

Now, okay, if I were actually hanging up these full-panel, ceiling-to-floor lace curtains in my house, this would be a good deal. But I'm not a Grandma, and I'm totally just going to come at them with a pair of scissors and go nuts. So $30 would be insanity. Did I tell her this? No. 

And how about when she said, "Okay, make me a fair offer," and I stood there looking at the curtains like a deer stuck in headlights thinking, "omg omg, what is fair, I don't even know, I need to get out of here!" I said nothing. I was worried about ripping off the rich lady!

So I made up some lame excuse about how I have this single window that I just want one panel for so I can tie it open to the side. In my defense, I had the specific window in my house in mind - it actually existed. But, what I was telling her about was part of my "if I ever get my girl" nursery fantasy, one that I'm certainly not intentionally collecting more pieces to hoard for, and there was no way this curtain was going on that window. I wanted to straight up destroy it.

She told me that they scrunch up pretty tight, and I'd need at least two panels to get full coverage. And then I'd NEED the valances to complete it. And at least one of the weird swoopy things to go in the middle, because it just wouldn't look right without one. So I told her I had to think about it, and walked over to the kids toys, using my son as an excuse to think on it.

I'd like to say that I worked up the nerve to tell her I only wanted one panel, and I only wanted to pay $5 for it - considering that if this was at the Good Will, it would only cost me $2. But I only got the first half out, and since it was such a struggle for me to keep up my lie of decorating that lone window, I just let her have the stinkin' $8 she wanted for it. And even when my total came to $11.50, I couldn't work up the nerve to ask her if she'd just take $10. 

I suck.

I think it's best if I stick to thrift stores and consignment sales, and maybe Craigslist, where I can hide behind my email address if I get brave enough to haggle. Garage Sales are great, but I need someone forward to go with me and tell the rich ladies who's boss!

And now if you'll excuse me, I have to go get ready to go thrifting with a friend.
I may or may not need rehab.

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