5 Tips for Thrift Shopping Success

I realized that since I made over our coffee table and the knotty pine dresser turned side board, that I haven't really taken the time to style them.  My first instinct was to just shop our house and use what I have.

When I couldn't find anything to use, I decided to try my luck at Goodwill. I wanted to see if I could find some cute, yet frugal, home decor.

Tip #1...Shop on Thursday or Friday at Goodwill for Target clearance items

I loved this gold and white box, a Target clearance item, as you can see.  Did you know that Target donates its clearance or discontinued items to Goodwill?  In Albuquerque, their donation day is Thursday so it's good to hit up the store on a Thursday afternoon or on a Friday.  Check with your local Goodwill to see when they get donations from Target.

In the store, I noticed that one of the panels had fallen off.  When I opened up the box though it was inside so I'm sure I can just glue it back on.

Tip #2...Always check for odors

I know that telling someone to smell their stuff might sound weird.  Very weird.  It's important though, especially for anything upholstered.  I steer clear of anything that reeks of cigarette smoke or just reeks in general.  Remember, it's better to look a little strange in a thrift shop for a few seconds than to wind up with something foul-smelling.

Case in point, I didn't think I would need to smell this tray that I'm planning on using in my daughter, Olivia's room.  I've got a vanity area in mind for her room and I thought this tray would be perfect for it.

After I got it home, I realized that this tray reeked to high heaven!  I mean it was so disgusting that it makes me nauseous just thinking about it. This tray was filthy and just reeked of the most awful, indescribable, smell. There was some heavy cardboard covered in velvet on the bottom of it to support the mirror that was the primary smelly culprit.

 I took it apart and soaked the frame and the mirror to clean them off and get rid of the smell.  Then I quickly traced the old cardboard onto a new piece and cut it out so that I could get rid of the old one as quickly as possible.  I didn't take any pictures of this because I just wanted to get it done and get the stinky stuff out of the house.  If I had taken the time to smell this in the store though, I never would have bought it because it smelled so bad.

Tip #3...Look at the bottoms of things, and inside drawers for logos or insignias

You can learn whether your piece is real silver, like this cute little silver bowl, or who made it.  The same is true for looking inside of drawers, if they're a well-made piece of furniture, it should have a company logo or insignia marked inside of it. A quick Google search will tell you whether or not the item you're considering purchasing has any value.

Tip #4...Buy it if you love it and it speaks to you

I fell in love with this little bird.  Partly because my son loves animals, especially birds, so much (we think he was a bird in a past life).  Oh, Jacob says that this is a piping plover, in case you wanted to know.  I just thought it was a duck.  I have walked away from thrift store finds only to regret it later.  I still kick myself for not buying a chandelier that I once saw at a thrift store that was only $4.00!

It wasn't crystal but it was made of beautiful glass beads.  After I left, I realized how much I could have done with it.  I went back but, of course, it was gone. Honestly, I don't know why I didn't get it? Maybe I was in a rush or something, who knows? Lesson learned.  If you love it and it's within your budget, buy it.

Tip #5...Don't buy it if you can't repair it
I loved this bamboo tray even though it needs a little work.  It's a little wobbly and someone tried to staple the corners together.  I'm planning on taking out the staples and using some wood glue and finishing nails to make it more solid.

I've passed up some beautiful thrift shop furniture because it was damaged. I knew I didn't have the carpentry skills to repair it myself and that it would just wind up sitting in my garage collecting dust.

Unless it's within your skill set to repair something, or you're willing to pay to get it repaired, I say pass on it.

I'm excited to show you where all of these treasures wind up in our house!  Oh, in case you are wondering, everything was $2.00 each, except for the Target box that was $3.00.

Thank you for taking the time to drop by and read today. Happy thrifting!


  1. Great tips! I didn't know Target had a specific donation day! I'm going to be frequenting Goodwill on Friday's now! :-) I completely agree on the sniff test. I bought a gorgeous vintage skirt at the Goodwill on San Mateo and when I got it home it had an "old lady" smell to it. I took it to the dry cleaners and that didn't get rid of it. I ended up tossing it because I wouldn't dare wear it and certainly didn't want anyone else to make the same mistake I did.

    1. Thanks Julia! That's too bad about your skirt but, at least you don't smell like an old lady. :)

  2. I've found some nice new target clothes at goodwill! It's incredible what you can find there!

    1. Hi Rita! I guess the saying about one person's trash being another person's treasure really is true. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. :)


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