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5 Cool Thrift Store Finds -- What to Look For and What's a Good Deal

The Kitschy and Unexpected

If you're a crafter with a bent for the quirky and curious, thrift stores offer an amazing opportunity to indulge yourself. A pile of tarnished silverware can be repurposed into wind chimes with the help of a drill and a few wires. A cracked ceramic pot can become a planter. A collection of mismatched wooden spoons can be reborn as a kitchen collage. You never know what you'll find on a thrift store shelf to fire your imagination. When you're contemplating your purchases:

  • Don't have too many projects in process at once. Otherwise, your garage could start looking like a thrift shop, or worse -- the city dump.
  • You'll make fewer expensive mistakes if you specialize in a few key areas, like woodworking or textiles. That way, you'll accumulate the expert tools and knowledge you need over time. Your projects will go easier that way and turn out better, too.
  • Keep a wish list of items you're looking for. If you collect thimbles (garden gnomes, candleholders or picture frames), keep a list of what you have and what you need. Check your list every time you shop so you don't miss out on anything -- or duplicate your efforts.
  • Negotiate price. Don't be shy about asking for a lower price. Depending on the shop, prices may be pretty flexible. You won't know until you ask.
  • Take cash with you. Thrift stores and other second-hand merchandise outlets can be easier to shop when you're using cash in small denominations. It'll make for a smoother, safer and faster transaction.
  • Ask about returns. Some thrift shops have a limited return policy. The timeframe is usually around 48 to 72 hours, but that's better than nothing. It'll give you a little insurance in case you get that vase home and discover it has a nasty crack on the bottom.