Monday, April 16, 2012

I Junk, Therefore I am

Warm weather is here, and I'd venture to say that will mean more thrifting adventures! Garage sales, auctions, flea markets and thrift stores await us. I've been a hardcore junker most of my life and have learned through trial and error the best and not so best ways to tackle junking. I thought I'd pass along some of my junking tips. 

  1. Wear comfortable shoes. I mean super comfortable shoes. Wear gel insoles if you must, but sore feet are no fun when you're junking. 
  2. Dress in layers. Even in the summer, I take along a button up shirt to throw over a t-shirt if I need to. Thrift stores are often inexplicably sweltering hot or freezing cold. 
  3. Use your own cloth shopping bags. I have tons of bags that I use - some of them have even been given to me at thrift stores that I frequent regularly. Once I empty them when I get home, I immediately hang them on the front door handle, so I'll remember to put them back into the car. It's so much better than having plastic bags everywhere. 
  4. Save your old socks or those with a missing mate. They're great for wrapping around glassware and other breakables. Just make sure they're clean before you use them. Old sweater sleeves work well, too.
  5. Take along wet wipes. Your hands can get super gross when digging through piles of treasure, so having something to clean them with between trips is great. You can also use disinfectant gel. My oldest sister uses both - all the way up to her elbows. She's a bit of a germ freak. I happen to think a few germs once in awhile are healthy, and am convinced that by not disinfecting to the point of being ready for surgery between stops, I'm actually building  up my immune system. 
  6. Make a thrifting kit. I took everything out of a small sewing kit and added a magnifying card, a thin but powerful magnet and a paper measuring tape. The magnifier helps me see makers marks and the magnet is good for determining if things are pure brass, copper or sterling, or are merely plated nickel. The measuring tape is obviously for measuring things. :) In lieu of a measuring tape, a dollar bill is approximately 6 inches long. 
  7. Thoroughly examine the item you're wanting to buy. If there's tape on it, look under the tape. Look under the tag. I've made it home before with things that were broken and I didn't notice it because the broken piece was under the tape. GRRRRRRR!  <----I said that plus a few choice other words when I discovered a white, milk glass, hobnail lamp was broken after I was home with it. 
  8. Keep a junking notebook. It can be small enough to fit in your purse or back pocket. They're great for keeping measurements of tables, wall space, and other furniture you already own so you can buy the right size tablecloths, lamps, pics, etc. If you're a reader, you can keep a list of the books you own in a series so you won't buy repeats. 
  9. Don't be afraid to haggle when appropriate - just be nice about it. I never haggle at thrift stores, though - mostly because the majority of them donate their money to a charity, so I'm okay with paying their asking price. If I'm not, I just don't won't buy the item. 
  10. Remember that a little scrubbing and some spray paint can transform almost anything.  You may find a small table with great lines and shape, but you may be turned off from the dusty rose paint and blue geese that have been on it since 1987. Imagine it white, off white or black and gooseless.
  11. Look at an item and try to figure out if it can be used for something other than its original use. A lot of what I buy ends up getting used for something entirely different than it was meant to be used. Almost anything that will hold dirt makes a good planter. I've used kids cowboy boots for cactus and an upside down birdcage for annuals. 
  12. Have fun! 

If you have any junking tips, please leave them in the comments below. 

All the best, 


  1. If clothing is part of the thrifting possibility, wear slip-on shoes, leggings, leotard-type shirt, and elastic waist skirt so that you don't waste time in the dressing room.

  2. Great tips! I recommend bringing cash to any junking expedition as it will help you stay on budget.