Suzanne O’Connor’s Bargains LA

The Premiere Bargain Hunting, Bargain Shopping & Sample Sales Guide for the Los Angeles Area.


Zannee's Blog

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The Joy of Thrift Store Shopping

By Suzanne O'Connor

Good bargain shoppers, whether they have an annual income of $20K or $500K, should not overlook thrift stores. Usually harder to shop than resale or regular retail stores, thrift stores can yield outstanding deals for those willing to hunt. Some of us haunt thrift shops for necessities; others for the thrill. It is by all means a full out treasure hunt, and as any treasure hunter will tell you, you don’t always come away with a prize. But for those who know designer labels, recognize quality and are willing to look, you can find some stunning surprises.

Book and music collectors usually haunt thrift stores to find great deals on rare out of print books and recordings. With paper backs in the range of $.10-$1 and hard backs running $.25-$2 you can really score. New paper backs releases can run up to $9 now. Hello… classic stories aren’t any less enjoyable at $.25. Many older recordings of Operatic classics and musicals show up at thrift stores at prices far less than collectible book and music stores. Many of these recording have never been transferred to CD or downloaded on to the web and are only available on old records or tapes.

Clothes hounds who are looking to build wardrobes should also look into thrift stores. Some of my best classic pieces have been purchased at thrift stores. My navy blue Anne Klein wool blazer was purchased in 1988 for $3 at a Goodwill store. I wear it a lot during the winter with my James and Blue Cult jeans. I picked up one of my favorite dresses at The Out Of The Closet Thrift Store in North Hollywood in1999. This 100% silk belted dress had a 40’s feel to it though it was from the 1980’s. With it’s full skirt and classic lines it has been worn to more summer parties than any other dress I have ever owned. It was a walloping $5. I picked up a near vintage cashmere Armani jacket for my husband for $35 and a pair of Ferragamo loafers for $7. New heels and a little polish brought these up to speed. Keep in mind vintage clothes usually show up at thrift stores before they’re technically vintage. Those of you with a good fashion eye should be able to snap up the top pieces. The best thrift store shoppers are bargain hunters who know what they are looking at and have shopped stores like Saks Fifth Ave and Barneys before.

Those of you who are crafty “Do It Yourselfers” can find amazing steals at thrift stores. Older linens and textiles found at thrift stores can be turned into pillows, lamp shades or used in other crafts. Creativity is the name of the game here. Buttons on old garments can be re-used on hats, scarves and crafts. Old beat up 1980’s oak or maple furniture can be painted bright colors and re-worked into a kid’s room at a fraction of what you’d pay anywhere else. I picked up a small bookcase in 1997 for $10, sanded it and painted it white. It was used in my daughter’s room till last year when it moved into the office next to the 1950’s tanker desk I also picked up at Goodwill for $35.

Antiques, silver, crystal artwork and other collectables show up at thrift stores and if you know what you’re looking at you can really bag a deal. Usually in mismatched sets and the furniture pieces probably need some restoration. Again it’s the effort that yields the payoff here. Over the last decade, I’ve picked up an old Franciscan Ware Rose patterned coffee pot for $10, a set of crystal cordial glasses for $12 and an old ink English map for a mere $3.

There are down sides to thrift store shopping. It’s not quick, takes effort and some thrift stores have that used clothing smell. You do have to examine every piece thoroughly and many thrift stores take cash only. But the benefits and savings far out weigh the detractions for those savvy enough to make the effort. At thrift stores you can get serious bang for your buck as well as supporting the programs they fund. Now that’s a bargain!

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