Wednesday, October 17, 2012

10 Rules to Thrift By

I have been asked a few times over the years how to have success when it comes to thrifting furniture. There is no precise secret or formula, but I do tend to stick by a few rules before and when making purchases.  When I was a teen, I watched a Dateline type show about a woman who was a millionaire, and surprisingly, her house was beautifully designed with secondhand pieces.  She had literally become a millionaire by being frugal.  I have been a bargain hunter since I can remember.  I still recall shopping at thrift stores in Virginia when I was about 4 years of age.  Ok, I had to throw a picture in here.  Seriously, it was a shop over there on the back left.  My mom bought me a slap was zebra print.  All I remembered was that sculpture, those steps and water.  The Internet can be a beautiful thing.  And, really, how did my mom not completely freak out about me walking along the edge of those steps?  Accckkk, I can't even look at it now I have kids.  You can see more pics here:    

Sorry, got sidetracked there.

Nevertheless, it was the thrifty millionaire that resignated within me in regards to home design.   

Here are 10 of my Rules to Thrift By:

1)  You have to love it.  If you are second guessing the purchase, forget about it.  I'll say it again.  Second guessing?? Don't do it.

2)  Be patient.  I like to wait several weeks to a few months on something that has caught my eye.  There will always be another that pops up on Craigslist or a yard sale.  Think twice about driving out to Timbuktu.  Chances are, that same item for a better price will show up closer to your home.  

3)  Buy Used 98% of the time.  When I do buy new I go with places that have an excellent return policy.  My favorite stores are Costco, BedBathandBeyond, Nordstroms, and more recently JCPenney.  They virtually have no return policy.  Meaning, if anything is wrong, ever, you can return it.  Obviously you don't want to take advantage of that policy and return something 10 years later....and people do.  I worked retail for a good 7 years and us employees were proud of good return policies.  It is a policy that the company establishes for a reason.  It makes the customer happy and it benefits the company greatly.  Generally, these places have excellent quality, excellent customer service and they price match.  With that being said, I rarely buy anything new, unless it is deeply clearanced or it is a timeless piece.  5 Items of furniture that I bought new:

Costco Upholstered Bed (Our first new bed after 7 years of marriage)  We went through about 4 to pay for that one

And, one more with the baby.... for good measure.

Dining Table.  I still love it since the day we bought it 7 years ago.  It has a classic farmhouse style.  My style has morphed from traditional, to modern, to kind of a happy elegant modern eclectic mix??? haha.  We have put the table to good use with Thanksgivings, small dinner parties, crafts and projects.  

Black and White Ikea Rug.  Paid full price.  It's modern, it's kind of bohemian, kind of eclectic, kind of classic in color......  I still love it every time I walk into the room.  It is 100% wool and has held up beautifully.  Even if my style changes it still lends a little fun to the space. 
Boy's Bunk Bed.  I really wanted the white Tromso when it first came out.  And, when it first came out it was time to buy a bunk bed.  We had purchased a cheaper wood one and ended up taking it back to the store.  The Tromso is a beast.

And, finally, these two couches we purchased from Costco.  They were trying to move them off of the floor for $150 (the large) and $125 (the smaller).  I <3 you, Costco.    

Read the Rest of my rules after the JUMP.

4)  Never pay more than what you think you can sell it for.  There have been numerous occasions where I just loooved a piece. It spoke to me.  "Buy me, Ashley, please....I love you, take me home, make me beautiful, look at my lines, look at my bones, better yet, look at my ridiculously low price."  I can usually eyeball a piece to know if it will work.  But, sometimes, it just doesn't.  Well, if it doesn't work, you can resell it.  Sometimes for more than what you paid for it.  Here are a few examples:

Go ahead and get your chuckle in.  I know.  I was really into this modern/retro kick and this guy was liquidating a massive storage unit of stuff from a local hotel that was remodeling.  These were two of the several pieces I picked up.  He gave me a great deal on the lot.  They were fun, solid pieces, but absolutely did not work.  I knew someone would want them.  Someone did, for about 3 times what I paid for them.


Next.  These Erik Buck stools I bought before I even knew who Erik Buck was.  I did know they were Danish, Mid-century, and had great lines.  I thought they would work perfectly in our kitchen.  Wrong.  Too tall.  Sold.

Next, we thought this would fit at the end of our bed.  Not.  Sold. 

This one, my better half found.  Heywood. Wakefield.  Seriously?? Too small.  Sold.

5)  Buy what you need or would like to replace.  I never buy what we cannot use or need.  It is always something that will replace another or something that is needed.  If you abide by #4 (Don't Pay More), you should be able to sell the old piece for what you paid for it or sometimes more.  

6)  Be generous.  Don't just look for yourself.  If you have been blessed with great finds, bless another that needs something you don't anymore or, find a steal at an estate sale of something a friend might need and ask a little more for gas.  I am constantly on the lookout for good conditioned /designer baby stuff, because all the ladies around me either have children or are going to have children.  This mentality also gives you the opportunity to know the style of your friends and family.  If I see something that I think might suit a person's style, I pick it up.  Remember rule #4 (Don't Pay More).  You can always sell it on Craigslist if it does not work out.  Also, I really do enjoy the hunt.  Occasionally, I ask my friends if they are on the search for something.  Nowadays, I'm not surprised if someone asks me to keep an eye out.  I am absolutely obliged to help.    

7)  Don't become obsessed.  I try to allocate only 30 minutes per day for Craigslist and every other week for yard, estate, and thrift sales.  I cannot count the number of times I have been realllly desiring a piece and will think about it and search for it much more than I should.  I either don't find it or I purchase something in haste that I end up hating.  I am positive this is a process of learning patience and contentment.  If it is meant to be for you and is a wise decision for your family, it will usually turn up when you are not even looking.  I will have put a desired piece on the back burner of my mind, when my dearest husband will come home out of nowhere with exactly what I needed for a screamin' deal.  And, I'm like "why did I even freak out over that?!?"  Stressing is a waste of valuable time.  The only physical things we truly NEED are food, water, clothing and shelter

8)  Under $100.  Try to keep each piece under $100.  This may or may not include couches, formal dining tables and beds.  The $100 rule applies to all small tables, desks, hutches, buffets, dressers, chest of drawers, chairs, night stands and small cabinets.  This includes high quality brands, people.  I have found Drexel, McCobb, Kartell, Lane, Heywood Wakefield, Henredon, Lexington, Bassett....the list could go on all for under $100.  Most of the time under $50.

9)  Budget.  Save.  Open an account or have a jar that is specifically allocated for home items.  If you sell something, deposit that money into the account.  Withdrawal for purchases.  Easy.  

10)  Spousal Support.  Another good thing to remember is to make sure you and your spouse are on the same page.  None of this buying and selling furniture even matters if you and your spouse are completely frustrated and he keeps asking you when you're gonna sell those ugly, massive "Flinestone's" lookin' night stands already.  Mine used to loathe driving around garage sales.  Over the years as we have become more like one another and learn to sacrifice what only we want for ourselves (I actually enjoy watching sports sometimes :) He has now come to trust my decisions on the items I see value in and actually enjoys finding pieces himself. Now, I'm not surprised if he comes home from work on a Friday with something he has picked up on his morning drive to work.  Actually, most of the time our good finds are his.....don't tell him I shared that.  It's always a competition between us as to who saw what first :)      

Let's Recap:

1)You Have To LOVE it.

2)Be Patient.

3)Buy Used 98% of the time.

4)Never pay more than what you think you can sell it for. 

5)Buy What You Need or would like to Replace.

6)Be Generous.

7)Don't Become Obsessed.

8)Under $100.


10)Spousal Support.


This has been really great for me to jot down.  I hope that it is helpful to you. 

What are some rules you thrift by??

1 comment:

mommyof2 said...

Awesome post! You have inspired me, and my husband, for future home purchases.

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