After yesterday's mega thrifting spree, I thought I would write a post on the art of finding second hand furniture, items, and materials. I'm sure I will write this same post in a few years with loads more knowledge, but hopefully this post will get you started.
1. Why Shop Second Hand and Salvage?
I am passionate about reusing everything possible, especially when it comes to furnishing, building, or renovating a home. Things were made better, built to last, and constructed with higher quality wood in the early 20th century. These well built and often times historical pieces are now turning up in land fills around the nation. Not only does that have a negative impact on the environment, it's also a waste of perfectly good and usable material. The best part about shopping second hand, and the original reason I was drawn to it, is that it's cheap, sometimes FREE! You can find items with character that you can make your own, and that's cool.
2. What Do You Need To Begin
- Cash - Most sellers will accept cash only, sometimes you will find a thrift store that will accept card or check, but don't take the chance. If you are headed out for a day of thrifting, take cash with you.
- Clothes that can get dirty - Cobwebs, grease, dirt, sometimes even rodent droppings are going to be involved when you're sorting through salvaged items and second hand things. Fear not, these things can be sanded, stripped, and cleaned throughly, but your clothes can stain and potentially become ruined. It's never a bad idea to keep a pair of work gloves in your car as well.
- Boots - Or at least tough tennis shoes. I usually always wear leather boots that are waterproof, wellingtons work just as well. Wet feet, muddy flats, or a possible foot injury will end your fun quickly.
- Antibacterial Hand Solution - You'll want it!
- Room in your car - Clear your car out before leaving, you may just need all the space you can get. When you find that perfect piece, you'll need a way to get it home! If you have a truck, be sure to bring rope, straps, and tarp to keep things tied down and protected from the elements.
- A Map - I usually use my iPhone, but admittedly have had times where I was so far off the beaten path that I didn't get service. Bring a map, just in case!
Where To Look?
Thrift Stores, Including GoodWill, Value Village, Good Samaritan, Catholic Charities, Etc.
I always keep my eyes pealed when driving down the road, whether it's in town, between towns, or even on a road trip. People will set things on the side of the road, in their trash piles, or outside their home. Always ask before picking anything up off of someone else's property.
How To Bargain?
Unless you're in a big name thrift store, sellers price their items to allow for a little bargaining. 10% is usually what you'll here someone offer you when you start to ask about a better price. If you want to offer even less, make points that support your offer. For example, the desk I bought yesterday was priced at $35.00 I offered $25 based on it's condition and the work that I would have to do on the veneer. I also pointed out an unoriginal drawer and plastic knob. These things are easy to notice when you look for them. Also make sure the piece is sturdy and solid, this can also be a bargaining point, or a potential reason to walk away from an item.
It can be hard to bargain in some environments, especially an antique mall or flea market where the actual seller isn't available to consider an offer. Unless the item is very rare or extremely unique consider what you're willing to pay. If the seller isn't willing to let an item go at the price you need, you can bet you'll find another piece like it somewhere else.
I hope this little article gives you the information you need to get started and venture out to find your new favorite piece of furniture!