In our house, shopping secondhand was originally born out of necessity, but quickly turned into a thrill similar to a treasure hunt. A single income home with a growing little boy, I was often on the prowl for a good deal that fit my wallet. While I wouldn’t have minded buying my son (or myself) something new more often, it didn’t take too long for thrift store shopping to become my preference. I rarely admit to being really good at anything, but I did become really good at finding secondhand deals and that is a talent I’m OK admitting. And while I’m being honest, I will admit that I may have referred to a really good find as a “spiritual experience” more than once.
While at times certain thrift stores can seem a bit spendy (like when the pricing clerk thinks those jeans should be $8.99 rather than the $5.99….who do they think they are?), with a little knowledge of weekly sale days and of course the 25% off coupons that you can always find on the bottom of my purse, I think we get by pretty well paying next to nothing for a whole lot of great things. My favorite things to buy secondhand? It’s a list longer than this, but here are a few of my top items.
Children’s Clothing & Toys
When I found out I was having a boy, one of the less trivial concerns I had was about how I’d dress my son without putting him in all those gaudy clothes with phrases on them. I wanted to dress him in his own style without needing to get caught up in the trends found at local stores. Buying his clothes secondhand, whether it was a garage sale or thrift store, not only saved me hundreds of dollars (especially with the way he grows), but it also allowed me to dress him uniquely. I’d rather have other people spend full price on name brand clothing, get sick of it, donate it and allow me to buy it for a dollar on half price toddler days at my local thrift store! Plus, unless it’s a birthday or Christmas present, we buy most of our favorite toys and games secondhand. And of course, the majority of our children’s book collection was once loved by someone else.
A few months ago, my husband and I threw what I believe to have been one of the most beautiful weddings designed mostly with secondhand items (plus a few trips to Michael’s). Really, though, there’s nothing more fun than planning a party at a thrift store! My mom and I spent an entire summer collecting antique plates and glasses for our guests, and with each visit we made to a different thrift or antique store, our vision for the big day evolved. Cake platters, birthday signs, yarn to make tassels, pendants, wrapping paper, whatever it may be that you’re looking for, your local thrift store most likely holds it for a fraction of the price. And in my opinion, these parties end up being a bit more unique and pretty, like the hostess who’s throwing the party!
Unless it has sentimental value and has been handed down, given to me, or purchased on a trip somewhere, I prefer my home to be a unique blend of whatever appears to be whimsical- Southwestern-Anthropologie with a price tag of about $3.00 or less. While that may seem like an impossible goal, this is how my home is decorated and the search for these items makes it all the more fun. Someone else’s once loved items put together in my own creative way, to become uniquely us. I tend to find picture frames, mirrors, tapestries, old globes, and baskets secondhand and love my home even more because of the thrill of finding each of them.
I grew up in a home where our costumes were always handmade by my loving mother. I may not always have the time to make things from scratch, because….well…I’m not my mom, but a couple trips to a thrift store will usually do the trick. Plus, this way I can find pieces of a costume and put it all together to feel like I at least “made” the costume. I don’t always like spending the price that thrift stores tend to have during Halloween time, so I typically start looking before the season starts and find an even better deal. This has also been helpful for all those last minute school spirit day items that I always forget because I am the mom that never remembers that tomorrow is 80’s day until 4 PM the night before. Plus, do you really want to spend more than $5.00 on that?
It is very cold in Minnesota for a good amount of the year. We love our coats- winter, spring, fall, you name it. As a result, a great portion of our income can go towards staying warm. Before each winter (to ensure an even better deal), I find my son a quality name brand coat for less than $10.00 at a thrift store. Since it’s always a good brand, the fact that it’s been worn before doesn’t make a difference and it’d be no different than having it handed down from someone we know. I’ve found the same for myself quite often, though children’s sizes tend to be a bit more reliable while shopping secondhand. With the exception of a couple new items each year, our rainboots and coats almost always come preowned, which is fine by me because they’ll only fit this year anyways!
In addition to all of these things, you can pretty much expect that 90% of what I wear is from a thrift store, with the exception of a few staple items such as undergarments and an occasional item I find on clearance elsewhere. Really though, the thrill of treasure hunting at a thrift store is one of my favorite things to do because I know it’s a hobby that doesn’t take much from our family budget. What are some of your family’s secondhand store go-to items?