Thursday, January 24, 2013


If you're not already a fan of thrift store shopping, I'm about to make you one.  One of my recent thrift store hauls included all of this:

As the title of this blog post might suggest, I shelled out only $14.95 for all of this "stuff."  Now you have to be quite patient and know where to go at the right time to pay that little.  Don't worry, I'll tell you my secrets.  First let's break it down and see how all of this material will be repurposed.

Baskets become great tabletop displays at craft fairs. It seems you can never have enough baskets so I snatch 'em up every time I find them in good condition.  If I don't use them, I know someone who will.

Three dozen T-shirts become dozens of dog tug toys.  Another half dozen T-shirts become cute little drawstring bags like the one I sent off to a New York pet shelter for animals displaced by Hurricane Sandy.

Not to mention the fact that I don't use the sleeves for either of these projects so I still have the materials for making about 80 tiny drawstring bags.  They are perfect for gift giving or storing small items in when traveling and even for making refillable sachets.  But more on that when I get around to using them.

I love to use fleece pullovers and striped polo shirts when I make pet beds.

As for the dirty old cookie sheet, well I painted that with chalkboard paint and made a magnetic tabletop display for some bottle cap jewelry that I made for dogs....yep, dogs!  It lives at my parent's pet shop now.  It really looked good once I covered the years of abuse it took in its past life.

I used the fat end of that tie to make myself a cover for my iPhone.  With the skinny end, I made a cuff bracelet.  There's an excellent tutorial over on the Eco-Etsy blog.  The denim has so many uses, I usually pick up a few pairs of jeans whenever I hit the thrift stores.  And the corduroy was bought specifically for the new wallet/purse organizer I want to make.

Phew!  I think I got it all.  Is your mind burning up with ideas now?  I hope so, because now I'm going to share my secrets for scoring some major craft material at thrift stores.

Every thrift store is different, even those with the same name will operate differently depending on where you are.  You'd be wise to take your time and get to know your local shops...all of them.  Here are somethings to be aware of:

  1. Some shops date an item right on the price tag, after 30 days they'll offer up to 50% off if it hasn't sold.
  2. Likewise some stores will color code price tags and every week offer a certain color tag at huge discounts.  Sometimes the discount only applies to clothing and other times it's the whole store.
  3. Look for Clearance Centers.  There are several Goodwill stores in my immediate area that I frequent.  But on Sundays I head to the local Goodwill clearance center, it's where everything goes to die.  Monday - Saturday, you pay $1.25 per pound and on Sundays it's half price.  Now clearance centers aren't for the faint of heart or those who expect to run in and right out again.  There are no shelves, no hangers, no common courtesy!  You walk into isle after isle of giant 6' bins on wheels heaped with STUFF!  And you have to pick through it all.  There is no rhyme or reason to it, baby clothes mixed in with adults and toys mixed in with housewares.  Honestly, if I were thrifting for clothes in my size, I couldn't do it.  I don't have the patience for it.  But for upcycling, it's perfect!
  4. Pay attention to holiday sales.  While most thrift stores are closed on major holidays (as well they should be) some will offer up to half off the store on holidays like President's Day.
  5. Does your shop offer a discount card?  In Connecticut Goodwill stores you can present one of those discount cards (just like the one's offered by grocery stores) for 5% off your purchase of $20 or more.  Only full priced merchandise counts toward the $20, 1/2 price merchandise isn't included. Upstate South Carolina Goodwill stores don't accept the cards.
Well, that's what I know.  Do you have any tips to share?  I'd love to hear them.

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