How To Shop Second Hand

This post first appeared on my “Weekly Wellness Chats” Newsletter July 15, 2018.

A question I was asked during my survey a couple months ago was to chat about shopping second hand and on a budget.  Thrift, vintage, antiques, you name it, I LOVE IT.  I’m a sucker for all things victorian and early 20th century.  Craftsman style homes, milk glass, lacy tops, boots, and bags…I can’t help it.  No wonder I love my town!  It’s filled with historic homes and charm.  I find that it brings me back to a time I haven’t personally lived in in this life, but it’s always nostalgic for me to find something that feels like an old friend or a piece of me that was missing.  I once had a Psychic tell me I had a past life and the woman lived in the early 1900s.  I’ve had many folks share with me that I’m an old soul.  So I believe this fascination with vintage and antique shopping isn’t just a hobby, but a way for me to tap into parts of my being that make me, well, ME.

Today I want to share 3 tips on how to find the perfect piece and stay on budget.  
Be on a mission, but keep an open mind.So what I mean by this is go into your time of shopping second hand with an item in mind.  Are you looking for tea cups, a shirt, a gift for a loved one?  Be specific.  Sometimes you can ask a shop owner if they have an item you’ve been looking for and they can help you find it if they do.  Part of the fun of shopping second hand, however, is finding what you’re looking for on your own.  Picking and digging through the treasures around you can also introduce you to a piece that maybe you weren’t looking for but realize you can’t go home without.  Many times I’ve gone into shops looking for a specific style of dress, but leaving with a sweet little coffee mug or bag that was screaming my name.  Be specific about what you’re looking for so you’re not feeling like a window shopper the entire time, but also be open to finding a piece or two that just might be even better than what you had your heart set on finding in the first place.
Inspect the items you find.It’s so much fun when you find what you’re looking for!  Now that you’ve found it, it’s time to inspect the quality.  My philosphy on homegoods (like my beloved milk glass, furniture, tea cups, vases), if there are little chips and scratches, a little bit of wear gives some character.  It’s great to find them in perfect condition but sometimes wear brings more of a story to these pieces.

Clothes are a different story.  I know it’s cool to have holes in your pants and they’re even making shirts with holes in just the right places.  BUT…these holes look curated.  Holes in second hand clothes and stains can sometimes look like they’ve been worn before because, DUH, they have!  You don’t want to walk around in someone else’s stains and rips if it looks worn down.  So make sure you thouroughly check articles of clothing before you check out with them.

Here’s where budget plays a large role.  Most second hand shops are reasonably priced.  So you can find amazing deals on name brand pieces that would have cost an arm and a leg back in the day.  If you see there’s a stain, a button missing, or rips and holes in random places, don’t be afraid to ask for a discount.  Most of the time the shop keeper will accomodate.  ALSO, consider how much you’re willing to spend on repairing these items if you find they are needing some TLC when they get home.  Is it worth putting in the extra cash to restore?  That’s up for you to decide.   
Search EVERYWHERE.Don’t be afraid to DIG.  Sometimes I find the treasures are hidden underneath piles, behind objects on shelves, tucked in corners for the serious pickers to find.  I find this to be really fun because if you do find something special underneath it all, it’s like you hit the lottery.  I’ve noticed shoes and bags tend to be hidden.  Popular items like clothing, certain glasswares, and items like typewriters and record players are of course going to be at eye level.  So depending on what your’e looking for, how popular it is at the moment, means you’ll either spot it immediately in a shop or you might need to get on your hands and knees and dig, dig, dig!

And if you go home empty handed, guess what, you didn’t break the bank so you stayed within budget! That’s a positive, right?  I love finding pieces physically in a shop.  But if you are really struggling with finding what your’e looing for, there are great websites to check out.  Amazon, Ebay, Poshmark and ThredUp are just a couple.  Don’t give up the search.  

I searched for a specific milk glass butter dish with little raised dots FOR YEARS. I was very specific and even looked online.  And I could not find it.   Then one day last summer my mom and I took a drive to a nearby town, Yucaipa, where antique shops line up their “uptown”.  We were about done searching for the butter dish after 4 shops and the summer heat was getting to us, it was time to get lunch.  But my mom insisted we go into one more shop.  I was hangry and hot but thought, well, it couldn’t hurt to go in to one more.  Right as we opened the door…I SAW IT…the butter dish of my dreams.  It was like we were reunited.  And I shed some tears.  Legit tears. Pictures were even taken.  I share this with you so you 1) understand that I am truly passionate about second hand shopping haha, and 2) DON’T GIVE UP THE SEARCH. 
With all that to say…3 tips to try for shopping second hand!

1.  Know what you’re looking for but be open to finding other treasures a long the way.
2.  Inspect the items you find, decide if you want them, ask for a discount if you see some wear and tear, and decide if your’e willing to spend money on repairs.
3.  Dig, dig, dig!  Don’t give up the search for an item you want if you know it will make you or someone else happy. 


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