Tiffany at the Thrift Store

Tiffany, as in Tiffany & Co.:

I know some people who have given up on thrift stores. The common complaints are that they are “over-shopped” by eBayers, and that people are more aware of the value of their belongings due to TV shows like Antiques Roadshow, so nice things are no longer being donated. But I’m here to tell you that treasure is still out there, and it is all in how you look for it.

Many people are just overwhelmed by all the random stuff found in thrift stores.

Modern shoppers are used to an orderly system, where a store is divided into departments, and all the items are grouped according to purpose and size. You rarely get that in thrift stores, but there are ways to eliminate some of the clutter in your mind so you can zero in on any exceptional finds.

It really helps to know what you are looking for before you enter the store. I know, you never know what will turn up, but think in categories. Unless you have unlimited time, you just can’t look at every single item. Decide what it is you want most to find and focus on that item or items. Right now, I’m in a vintage fabric mood. So I go to the linens and look for interesting fabrics and vintage patterns. Usually nearby are miscellaneous crafty things, so I look for rick-rack, trim and buttons as well.

Next I turn my attention to the dresses. If the selection is small or if I have plenty of time, I’ll thumb through all of them, if not, I just look at the fabrics. It’s amazing how many really bad sewers spend big $$$ on Liberty fabrics just so they can ruin them. The disastrous results end up in the thrifts, and I look for these sewing projects gone bad so I can use the fabric in my own projects. I then go to the skirts, then the blouses and sweaters.

I always at least glance at the shoes. Most thrifts have them arranged so they are quick and easy to look through. Yesterday I found a pair of 1940s peep-toed spectator pumps in a Salvation Army. The older ones just pop out at you! Then it’s on to the handbags, and a quick look through the scarves.

If you are into decorating, then you might want to finish up in the housewares. For the most part, I rarely fool with looking there, but the two Tiffany mugs were calling out to me. I collect map decorated items, so these caught my eye. If you are collecting retro or vintage housewares such as lamps or appliances, thrift stores can be a great source for them.

Some people go into thrift stores with one item in mind, and they are usually very successful in finding that one thing. My sister loves books, and she thrift shops just for them. She has found some great ones too. Happy shopping!



Posted by Justine:

First off, I know you must *love* that set. What a great find for you!

Secondly, I shop pretty much the same as you do. Although I hit shoes and bags first, then dresses. In the fall and winter I hit sweaters and in the spring and summer it’s skirts. But I almost always do a quick look at the housewares, there’s always something interesting in housewares!

Tuesday, October 28th 2008 @ 5:19 PM

Posted by Lizzie:

Hi Justine, Yes, it was a great find. I remember looking at these items in the Tiffany catalog several years ago, and not being able to justify spend $30 each for the mugs!

Thursday, October 30th 2008 @ 5:24 AM

Posted by Hazel Quinn:

I found a huge octagonal Clarice Cliff bowl in our thrift store for $4. The old iris pattern, so unmarked as such.

Clothes wise I go for the feel of fabrics first so go down the rail groping everything. Have some great finds but it’s not like it was. Now it’s mostly classed as ‘vintage’ and hugely expensive.

Saturday, November 1st 2008 @ 10:13 PM



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