Speaking of Thriftiness… Thrift Tips.
My Aunt Cynthia is a savvy decorator. Her home is paradise to me when I visit, and was a haven for my daughter during her first semester away from home.
Cynthia offered to share her favorite local thrifting tips, and now…on the brink of Spring Cleaning and Spring Reinventions (oh yeah, and while I’m on Spring Break), is the perfect time to share them. Here’s Cynthia:
Cynthia’s Thrift Tips and Further Musings:
I am a second-hander from way back. Even though I am the oldest of six children, I wore hand me downs from the neighbors for many years. And my mother delighted in finding antiques at second hand stores and refinishing them.
My children hate it when we drive by a cemetery or a garage sale because in both cases they know I want to get out and look around to check out what’s happening.
However, here on the windward side of Oahu, my garage saleing days are limited. We live in an area where the salt air and termites eat into things. It is a great place for people but destructive location for material goods. So garage sales here are tricky. Any item made from wood that I have brought home has had termites in it.
So I rarely even slow down for garage sales here.
What has replaced this kind of shopping? Ross.
Ross has a lot of the same strategies and temptations. At Ross and at a garage sale I have to steel myself to walk by good deals that I don’t really need. And a lot of what is there isn’t really a good deal because the quality isn’t always high. So there is that thrill of the hunt, of sifting through to find the perfect treasure.
It really is an outlet store. Unlike many stores that say they are outlets, Ross does sell things that are high quality… or that at least seem like they have been passed on to Ross from other entities. I have seen glass items that I could swear I saw on the catalogue pages of Pottery Barn and a pillow that looked like it had just come from West Elm (honestly it looked just like one I saw in their catalogue). And two weeks ago, I found a Ralph Lauren dress for my daughter.
Here’s some strategies for shopping at Ross and staying on budget.
1) I only buy something if I have a place for it to go. This is an absolute rule. I live in a small house with limited storage, wall space, or places to just generally put things. If there isn’t a place for it, it doesn’t come home.
2) Ross is a great place to buy dinner plates and serving plates. I usually try to buy plates that are made either in the US or the European Union because I am suspicious about the finishes that come from other places. I don’t know that they have lead in them, but I don’t think other places are as regulated as the U.S. and Europe.
3) Look for side tables at Ross and large pots at Ross. Even if the goods aren’t name brands, the quality is generally high and often stylish.
4) Ross is like garage sales in that it takes a lot of stops to get the good stuff. I once bought some jute rugs at Ross ($50 for a 4 X 6 versus $149 plus shipping for a 3 X 5 online rug). When I’d make errand runs, I’d quickly stop at Ross, head to the rug section and china section, check them out, and leave if they didn’t have what I wanted. It took me around six months to get all the rugs I wanted. Thus, patience and faith.
5) I have two competing rules that are balanced against one another. One is to not buy things that are not on my list to buy. My list can be general; such as, birthday presents, baby clothes, dinnerware. But if it’s not on the list, it doesn’t get bought. Unless….unless it is something I have been looking for and wanted but it didn’t make it on the list. For example, I adore white cake pedestals. But they are not a need, they are more of a collection. If I see one in Ross that I like, it trumps my list rule.
6) Know your name brands and their quality. This works particularly well when buying clothes and shoes—it helps you figure out at a glance which items probably are quality.
7) Here’s a list of things that often offer good quality for the price:
kitchen utensils, baskets, blue and white ware, plate ware, side tables, natural fiber rugs, baby clothes, towels, sheets, and sometimes pillows.
I confess, though, there is a danger. I once had a visitor come to stay for a week. She could identify all my Ross shopping. Most people are amazed at what I found at Ross, but she wasn’t. She is a Ross shopper also.
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