At the risk of sounding like Macklemore, I want to take a moment to impress upon you the importance of frequenting thrift shops.
See, I take Tuesdays off from my seamstressing and blogging so that I can get my family’s errands run on a low-traffic day. One day, I was grabbing some thread from a nearby fabric store and I noticed a charity’s thrift store behind the store I was going into. On a whim, I went inside, and ever since, I have been visiting the local thrift stores once a week.
Here’s a quick preview of what I’ve found so far.
I’m going to get up on my soapbox first.
Here’s the thing. I’ve heard plenty of people talk down about specific thrift stores, and I wanted to address that first. Here are some things I’ve actually heard people say:
- [Charity] doesn’t give enough to people who “deserve” it.
- [Charity] is run by [religion], and I don’t agree with their beliefs.
- [Charity] supports [political cause] I don’t agree with.
- [Charity] charges too much.
Okay, I’m all about freedom of expression/religion/opinion/whatever, but let’s face some real facts – all the charities that run thrift shops are doing one thing: they are helping people who need it. I don’t really care what their religious or political affiliation is, I recognize that they are helping people who are so much less fortunate than I. And let’s be honest, there’s a 90% chance that they’re less fortunate that you are too.
If you’re reading this on the internet with a roof over your head and clean clothes on your body, there are people out there who have it harder than you do. Thrift shops allow you to save a ton of money and help those people at the same time. You can find really great tools for 10% of what they are at the store. So, from now on, I’m going to try to do a Thrift shop update for you guys once a week. Since I don’t write on Tuesday, they’ll probably go up on Thursday. I also can’t promise that I will always have an update (I actually came up empty this week), but I’m going to try to give you guys a taste of what you can find when you really look.
Okay, off the soapbox.
A few tips to make the most of your trip, if you’re looking for crafting/sewing items:
- Go straight to the area(s) where they keep the crafting items. In my thrift shops, that means the niche way at the back that has all the patterns, ribbon, and fabrics.
- Look through all of the patterns every week. You will end up looking at the same patterns over and over, but thrift stores are always getting new ones. As you get more familiar, you’ll learn how to skip over the patterns you’ve already seen and get to the new ones. They are never in the front or the back. They are always mixed in because other people have sifted through them as well.
- Skip over tools you have no use for or already have, unless you need a new one. No use spending money (even if it’s $1) that you don’t need to.
- I always check in housewares to see if they have an industrial iron or ironing board. I’d like to have my own for my sewing room and stop using the family’s. That’s your choice, but it’s something to think about.
- Go to the books section in “hobbies” and see if there are any patterning or sewing books. Those books, regardless of how old they are, are full of amazing information you can use.
Okay, onto better pictures of stuff I’ve found.
First off, I needed a recycle bin for all of my pattern paper. I grabbed the wicker basket for $2. I found a similar one online for $25. The card holder, I use for my clients’ measurement cards. It was 75 cents instead of $32 at the office supply store. The gold fabric was also $3 for 2 metres. No idea how much that would cost in the store, but I’ve got a good bet that it’s at least $10 a metre. And finally – the pressing ham!
Okay, this is something I don’t think I’ll ever use. This is an old fashioned pattern marker. I’m pretty sure it’s never been used, but I want it for the vintage shelf in my sewing room some time. I picked it up for $2 which is the same price as it was originally. However, it’s being sold as a vintage item for about $27 online. Either way, I think it’s awesome.
I won’t post all the different books. I got 8 in the past couple weeks. One of the local high schools is in the process of moving and they cleaned out their library. The best item from that haul was:
This sucker is from the 1970’s and has nothing less than amazing tips on making clothing. I’ve learned a full ton from it. Anyway, I’m not going to go through all of the books I got, but I paid about $2 each for them. Some of them were 6 for $10. As far as sewing books, I average about $15 per book when I’m looking at retail prices. Since I got 8 from these trips, That means I saved about $100 all in.
Finally, there are the patterns.
I did the math and the tools I bought saved me over $300. I didn’t buy things I can’t use, and that’s the biggest takeaway. Never buy what you don’t need or can’t afford.