Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Best Secondhand Finds Ever

wrought iron candle sconce $3
My house is filled with items I bought secondhand.  I like craigslist and I love shopping thrift stores and flea markets.  Buying secondhand is great for several reasons:
  • It’s MUCH less expensive than shopping retail.
  • The selection is varied.  While mall shops are typically filled with what’s trendy and in season, thrift stores offer a wide range of styles in everything from summer tank tops to winter coats.
  • The items are more unique.  Buy that interesting knickknack at the thrift store, and you’re probably the only person within 500 miles who has one.
  • Reusing is far better than throwing away.  It’s amazing how much perfectly good stuff gets dumped into landfills.
  • Many thrift stores are run by charities.  I like knowing my money will be used to help a homeless pet or a disabled person, not to line a corporation's pocket.
  • There’s no packaging.  Retail items are absurdly over-packaged.  It’s wasteful and really annoying.  I’m convinced clamshell packaging was invented by demons… who no doubt dance the Gleeful Demonic Jig as we injure ourselves trying to extract our purchases.
Plus there's the amusement factor with shopping thrift stores.  I have seen many OMG items as well as a few WTFs.  ;)  Truly memorable is the lamp which was so hideous that I actually burst out laughing.  Oh, how I wish I'd had a camera!  I cannot adequately describe the frightfulness of the thing... it looked like a frilly, bow-bedecked avocado green floral mob cap sitting on top of a lumpy orange decanter with a gold base.  And it was huge - about a yard (1 m) tall!  I finally dragged myself away from this hilarious monstrosity only to turn the corner and spot another of the same lamp... and start laughing again.  A perfectly matched pair of the fugliest light sources ever known to man!  :)

I’ve found many great bargains while shopping secondhand.
tall wrought iron candle holders $4
dresser (still to be painted) $40... and pretty much everything else in this photo except the jewelry
And on occasion, I make an truly fantastic find.  My two best secondhand finds are:

Solid wood desk, FREE, found on craigslist
This desk was solid wood and very sturdy.  It was missing the center drawer, but for me, this was good because it gave me more knee clearance for my long legs.  The desk had only scratches and dings; no major defects on the wood.  It was easy to beautify with some sanding and painting.  I use it every day.

Vacuum cleaner, $3, purchased at thrift store
This vacuum cleaner didn’t work because it needed a belt... but the previous owner had taped an unopened package of two belts to the vacuum.  After installing the belt, I noticed the vacuum didn't have good suction.  I took out the dust bag, poked around a bit, and removed a marker that was stuck in the tube.  With 30 minutes of minor maintenance, my $3 vacuum cleaner worked fine.  I’ve been using it for more than three years.
not glamorous, but a darn good deal for $3

What great secondhand finds have you made?


  1. Don't paint the dresser, strip it and restain it. There is actually an ebony wood stain, that makes the wood black, but allows for the natural beauty of the wood to show through.

    1. That sounds beautiful! I'm so doing that to my next wooden find... Thanks for the heads up. :D

    2. The ebony wood stain is lovely. I plan to use it on my kitchen cabinets.

  2. I totally agree with you. I prefer to buy things for the home at thrift stores and garage sales. Your description of clamshell packing is so fun, how many times haven't I cursed it when unpacking a kids toy. The wrought iron candle holders are beautiful and your drawer was a real bargain.
    I bought a venetian chrystal chandelier for 8$ but it lacked a lot of chrystals. But since I have a huge stash of them , I bought the lamp and are now working with the restoration. I beleive it will cost me 25$ when I'm ready, that's a bargain.

    1. Oooh, good bargain! I hope you'll post pics of your chandelier when it's done. :) I want a nice chandelier to replace the ugly ceiling fan in my dining room.

  3. I concur with the staining option for that dresser. It's a great piece. If you can, show off the wood. Though, it is yours to do what you will.

    I love thrift stores. I have a small collection of mechanic's shirts with varying names that I find amusing: Salvador, Ozzie, Eddie, Victor, Martin, Chuck. I've scored a multi-disc CD player and speakers for $25 bucks. I still need a receiver to power the speakers, but I'm sure I'll find one.

    1. I was planning to paint the dresser to match my not-yet-built headboard, but staining might work as well. Hmmm....

      What a great selection of aliases you have! :) Those shirts are really fun.

  4. You have found some GREAT stuff!

    I mostly thrift shop for clothing because I cannot afford to buy it new. I often find hardly worn Torrid or Tripp clothing for less than $5. I want to get into purchasing furniture but I do not own a car so it's kind of hard!

    1. Nice! I don't recall ever finding goth brand items.
      I used to have a minivan and it was easy to grab up the furniture bargains. But now I've downsized to a compact car.

  5. Amen! I lurve me a trip to the DI (local thrift store.) Books there are between 25cents and $3, whether it's a coloring book or a new release. I bought so many great ones for a dollar, and it's so nice because if I don't like it, I don't need to whine because IT WAS ONLY A DOLLAR. Not $23.
    In my kitchen I have some framed wooden utencils, plus some framed soup spoons. The frame, the utencils, even the fabric all came from a second-hand store. I could have paid for one that was pre-made, but I'd much rather save twenty bucks and get crafty myself!
    P.S. Score on that vacuum!
    P.P.S. If it's what I want, but the wrong color, I just paint it black. Still cheaper!
    P.P.P.S. (Last one, I promise) LOVE the blog. Shadow Manor mentioned you so I had to come and check it out.

    1. The $2 and $3 books are hard to pass up. Most of them are practically new.
      P.S. Might be the best $3 I ever spent.
      P.P.S. When thrifting, it's all about the shape - almost anything can be painted black. :)
      P.P.P.S. Thanks so much!

  6. I have those same tall iron candle holders. They came from Pier One. I paid... more than $4. ;-D Excellent find!

    1. When I spotted them, it brought to mind the photos you'd posted of your lovely purple curtains flanked by candle holders. I didn't realize they were the same ones. :)