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5 tips for thrift shopping

This month’s Little Things post is from the amazing Helen Edwards. The very talented stylist and upcycler from Recycled Interiors. I thoroughly recommend popping by and checking it out, it really is an amazing blog and shop.

Today, Helen is sharing her love and secrets for good thrift shopping

There is definitely something wonderful about thrift shopping, second hand and roadside rescue. For me it goes back to being very small, when the world was so big and sparkly. My parents would often take me to second hand stores, garage sales and thrift shops, especially when we were travelling. They would give me a small amount to spend and I could select what I loved. I often chose small china animals and anything green glass. I still have some of those pieces today. I remember the shiver of excitement as we would stop by a shop or garage sale on our way somewhere. They were never afraid to pick something up off the side of the road, or to repurpose something.Recycled Interiors | Blah Blah Magazine

My parents decorated our home with a blend of old and new and there was a definite bohemian style running through my childhood. This meant that thrift shopping and second hand was just a normal thing to me, but as I grew up I realized this was not the case for everyone. I remember realizing some people even thought it was undesirable and daggy and questioning my own love of all things old, but this only lasted for a short time.

That sense of the unknown, the treasure hunt and adventure has stayed with me to this day and these activities are still very much part of our family holidays. When we are at our beach shack with my parents, the first item on the agenda when we arrive is to get the country paper and check out all the weekend garage sales, and pop by the local charity shops!

My thrifty finds come from a range of places including second hand stores, charity shops, garage sales, vintage stores, online and roadside! The idea of shopping thrifty is now accepted as a positive and even desirable thing to do and many more people are including some thrifted items in their homes and their wardrobes.Recycled Interiors | Blah Blah Magazine

Here are five ways it has improved my life and some tips for you if you are considering some thrift shopping.

1) It will save you money

You will save some cash, and you can also make some by selling your own unwanted items. Op shopping is now popular and some of the charity stores have cottoned on and increased prices on some items, but they are usually still well below that of the new stores. Garage sales are a great way to get rid of your unwanted items and to find thrifty bargains, as well as making some cash yourself.

TIP – Look for smaller op shops, the one offs like your local church charity shop, rather than the chains, who still offer extraordinarily cheap prices in most cases. For example in my local area there is the Animal Welfare League Shop, a Quakers charity shop, a couple of Church Op Shops and a lovely little Save The Children outlet. Keep your eye on the weekend garage sales, you can check online garage sale pages on Facebook, in your local paper and keep your eyes open around the streets on Saturdays especially.

2) You can find designer pieces you may never have been able to afford

I think the buy once buy well approach in interiors and fashion is very important and even more so, buy ethically and know your sources. However I am not rich and it is hard with all the costs in life to save the cash to buy designer pieces all the time. By thrift shopping I have found so many beautiful pieces of furniture, art, clothing and collectibles which I would never otherwise been able to afford.

TIP – if looking for designer fashion, go through racks checking the labels as you go and look for designer labels. Check out thrift shops in some of the more expensive suburbs where local residents may have taken their unwanted items. Some thrift stores are more known for their fashion or for their furniture and it is good to get to know the kinds of things they carry.

3) You can source plenty of things to upcycle and bring back to life

All of you Upcyclers out there, thrift stores are the forests of the upcycling world, full of an endless supply of things! Look for old glasses to upcycle into candle jars or centrepieces for your table, trays to turn into chalkboards or paint with Chalk Paint for your coffee table display, vintage fabrics and tea towels to turn into cushion covers, daggy ornaments can become masterpieces with a paint job, furniture runs wild in many op shops and can be used as is, or given a new lease of life.

TIP – Look for solid timber and beautiful lines in furniture. Don’t worry if it looks shabby or has marks and scratches. You can create a beautiful piece as long as it has good bones. Fabric can be re upholstered and timber can be painted, stained and stripped back. Consider items not as they are now, but as how they may become. Think outside the square .Recycled Interiors | Blah Blah Magazine

4) You are stopping stuff going to landfill

We are all more and more aware of our growing excess of stuff and the problems of how to dispose of it all. Buying things that already exist and would have been tossed out means you are prolonging their life. Even better, in the true sense of upcycling, consider what you will do with the item once you no longer have a need for it, so you also don’t end up sending it to landfill.

TIP – don’t become a hoarder. There is evidence that many items picked up off the roadside end up back on the roadside at your house. Think about whether you really need the item and what you will do with it. If you are not sure at the moment, maybe it will become part of a project later which is fine, or maybe it is better left where it is. The same goes with garage sales and op shops. Going to these because you have something you are looking for is great. Going to have a look around and see is also great, but if you are bringing home a dozen items each week, you may become overwhelmed with clutter and need to reconsider your thrifty gathering! As a Stylist and retailer this can be tricky as everything is easy to see as something which could be of use, but from time to time I also need to have a clean out and move things on. Instead of automatically thinking something you have at home needs replacing, consider whether you can fix, upcycle or repurpose it. Sometimes just moving things around at home can create a new space. Always think about what you will do with something when you no longer need it, before you purchase or pick it up.

5) You are supporting good causes in most cases and you can feel good

There is definitely a feel good factor in shopping thrifty. Many thrift shops are run by churches, community groups and charities and much of their funds raised through your purchase goes back to support their cause. Garage sales create a community economy and give us all a chance to move things on instead of holding on to it, or tossing it away.

TIP – Check out local country op shops before you go on holidays. They often have amazing things not found in the city. Their hours can vary from town to town, so give them a call first to find out their hours, or look online.

You’ll find more from Helen Edwards over at Recycled Interiors

About BlahBlahMagazine

Cybele Masterman (Bele) trained as a beauty therapist, aromatherapist and journalist. After working as all of the above has found herself on a quest for a beautiful and meaningful life that doesn't cost the earth. Follow on google: +blahblahmagazine twitter: @blahblahzine or Instagram: BlahBlahMagazine

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  1. Thanks for the opportunity to share on your wonderful blog! Xx

  2. I really want to be good at thrift shopping and upcycling but I don’t have an eye for it, maybe if I slowed down a little more and took the time to browse I might have more ideas! Great list.

  3. I am a wannabe-op shopper but I don’t seem to have the eye or the patience, but maybe there’s hope for me yet, if I follow these top tips!

  4. I love thrift shopping for clothes…and books! As for homewares, not so good. My mum used to drag me to Vinnies when I was a kid, loved it! Still love it!

  5. Awesome tips – thanks Helen. I scored some fabulous martini glasses thrift shopping with my mum Today whilst we were waiting for my dad to have surgery. Silver linings 😉 xx

  6. What fantastic tips. I have never been much of a thrift shopper but my mum is so I will send this to her.

  7. Awesome tips, I love to upcycle and do a bit of thrift shopping.

  8. How wonderful is this! Upcycling assists the planet and saves us money… brilliant♥

  9. I love thrift shopping for homeware stuff, that’s actually how I find most of my props for my blog photos. I also own a cute mid century chair which I originally found at a Sacred Heart shop in Melbourne and then refurbished with my husband. 🙂

  10. I’ve found really great tips and suggestions here! Recycling my own stuff and using them again is something normal for me and I find a lot of charm in the DIY recycled craft projects!

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