Tag Archives: A&E

The Early Bird vs. If It’s Meant To Be…

After hitting my usual thrift spots this weekend I was driving home and I wondered which old standby was a more pertinent quote – in regards to thrifting.

A) Does the early bird truly get the worm?
B) If you’re meant to find something, does it find you?

Will it be sitting on that shelf waiting for you? Some weekends I wake up at 8am and I’m usually prowling the stores as they’re opening the doors. Other weekends, I sleep until noon and am haunting the stores until they’re giving me the eye and locking up for the night. I pondered this because, I’ve found no discernable correlation between the times I go thrifting and the times I find the good stuff. I’ve stumbled across great finds at all hours of the day. Frankly, a more true statement would be that every thrifter has had outings where they’re junk skunked.

Sure, you can seek insider information about each store. You can fine tune your outings to possibly increase the chances of finding some treasures. Because with that information you’d know when a store stocks their shelves, and at what hours of the day, or what days of the week. But even i’m not that crazy. That’s a lot of diligent work and data to process and retain, just in hope of finding something.

After finding some really great stuff this weekend at all hours of the day, I’m more inclined to go with the latter quote; “If it’s meant to be, it’ll happen.” The item will find you. So don’t worry about your hunting process in terms of when. Because if you do, the junk hunting anxiety will get the best of you. Not to mention (as I’ve said before) you’ll probably end up on Hoarders. Instead, it’s better to focus your energy on things like current trends, growing trends, knowledge of an item genre you’re unfamiliar with, or just going in with your eyes open, more relaxed, able to lock in that creative mindset that helps you see value and beauty in an object that someone else, clearly did not.

Featured image by Tom Stack. See more of his awesome work here.

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Hoarders vs. Thrifters

So for the past year or so I’ve been obsessed with A&E’s show Hoarders. Now, I realize that the main focus of the show is to address the problem situations that these people have come full on with and then showing how the specialists and professional organizers manage each situation, but there’s something that always bothers me about the show. Each episode a 1-800-GOT-JUNK truck pulls up (whom I’m sure has an exclusive contract with the show) and then the house in most episodes is purged of all it’s crap that has built up, then the stuff is hauled away to some undisclosed location. What I don’t understand is in the houses where there’s not poop smeared on the walls and where it’s just a lot of new/unused/volumes of stuff – why don’t they have a garage or estate sale?

About 50% of the episodes the underlying reason is that the people feel the need to hold on to their items due to financial constraints, fearing that  if they get rid of an item, that they’d need to spend the money to purchase a new one eventually. In the most recent episode the hoarder confided to the camera that she wanted to keep a pair of (in my opinion what looked to be shitty cheap K-mart lamps) “because they were a pair”. She went on to state that she “could go find a tacky lamp at a thrift store for cheap” but wanted to keep the ugly ones…because they were a pair. This pissed me off because of some peoples’ reputation of thrift stores is that there is nothing good in them. Which isn’t true of course, it’s people like that who have no imagination, no artistic inklings to realize that there is good stuff and not all stuff is even old or tacky in thrift stores. That very reason alone is what separates a hoarder from a thrifter. Thrifters can think on their feet, their savvy, they’re resourceful, they like stuff that just works.

What these folks don’t realize is that if they had a garage sale just once a year or every couple of years, it not only helps thin down all of your belongings but also can make you some serious cash. See my tips for having a garage sale post from a while back here. I know that this is a bit idealistic and that this might come off as insensitive. Most of the cases are people who have pretty harsh mental issues and it boils down to just needing to get the volume of stuff out of their premise. My mother’s garage sale alone made over $2000 (yes THREE zeros) last year! *I should note that her sale is usually combined with a neighbor or two and usually some friends decide to put some items on her sale as well. It’s win-win. The larger the sale the more people show up. Her garage sale has built up a reputation for being big – and having a great variety of good stuff. She has a garage sale twice a year in the spring and the fall. Come hell or high water – tons of people show up in droves.

Here’s my idea: Not too unlike a couple of shows on HGTV or Discovery, I wish (in the cases where it’s plausible) that they’d have the hoarders pick and choose what items they want to sell and then have massive garage sale. Simple as that, have a sale, then the crap that doesn’t sell – they donate or toss. Readers of this blog probably think I have items everywhere in my house, but I don’t. I mostly re-sell what I buy or it’s something I needed. I just think it’s a missed opportunity by the show to address cases where American consumerism has run rampant, and to show the viewing public a great way to help themselves by making some cash or even just taking a long hard look at what they purchase and accrue. My personal “I can re-sell this”  mentality was acquired from growing up and watching my mother turn our seemingly useless piles of junk that slowly built up every year into some serious cash. It’s what helps me maintain a fine balance of the stuff I buy. The show sometimes leaves me depressed and unfulfilled because I feel sorry for the folks that aren’t quick enough to realize that they can change their situation or because they were just never taught how to keep their stuff clean and tidy. It all boils down to parenting in some respect.

Always remember a favorite quote of mine: “he who dies with the most toys is still dead” right?

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How I Paid My Rent For 6 Months By Thrifting

Let me first start by saying that having to make rent this way was in no way fun or recommended. Unless you’re retired or insanely dedicated to it. Paying my rent for 6 months via scraping by on reselling thrifted goods was a ton of work. I was able to utilize my in-depth knowledge of web selling platforms to more easily liquidate most of the items. I was able to achieve this feat mainly by selling just a few items each month that made up most of my then $800 a month rent. On a soapbox-rant side note: let me say that when congress or some rogue old senator (who you know doesn’t even use the web) dabbles with the idea of taxing people’s income from selling items on sites like eBay and Etsy, it makes me seriously cringe. Some folks do this for a living and it’s grueling. An extremely slim percentage of the web sellers are making good coin from doing it. Like I said above, reselling items for a living is not what I’d call fun.

HOW DID I DO IT? You have to have a keen eye for items that you know will sell. “Don’t sell what you don’t know.” A bus driver wouldn’t apply for a job as an Army helicopter pilot would he? You have to know what you’re looking at or you’ll waste a lot of money on stuff you can’t liquidate and end up  looking like a hoarder with a garage full of junk. My item of choice was art, because that’s what I’m comfortable in. Having a fine art and design background I was able to find rare prints that had probably been turned in by someone who didn’t know any better. I found real screen prints by David Weidman, hand-colored etchings by UK artist Jo Barry, and ORIGINAL impasto oil paintings by Italian artist P.G. Tiele (which still blows my mind!)  I also found art objects such as original McCoy pottery and vintage little sculptures and plant holders from various artists & eras that sold for amounts that still surprise me to this day. America is a nation of collectors and when they see an item they want or don’t have – you bet your ass they’ll pay for it. What happens is when someone passes, all of their stuff has to be dealt with by their spouse or relatives. Most of the time it’s in hasty fashion and a lot of the items get put in a box and donated to thrift stores – that’s just my guess. Whereby, I heroically pluck them from their dusty shelves and find a better venue for them to be noticed and subsequently sold. In some ways I’m helping keep these works of art from the trash or thrift store purgatory. In a way I’m helping to connect the items with someone who collects or genuinely cherishes that artists’ work.

WHERE DID I FIND THE TIME TO DO ALL OF THIS THRIFTING? I  had the time to pull this off because I was freelancing at in the evenings and would go out and thrift by day to avoid heavy crowds. Being a night owl, doing this by day made it exactly like having a 8-5 day job. I’d set my alarm and get up to go hit my spots 6 days a week. Through this experience I quickly learned how, when, and what time the newest goods were delivered to each location. I even started to notice (and feel) like some of those old creeps sitting in their cars for the stores or garage sales to open, just to be the first to get in there and peruse. QUICK TIP: using a phone with fast and strong internet can help you quick google search any artist or pot or item you think may have good value. I personally use an Apple iPhone  and will attribute it to helping me find and sort through a lot of the stuff I’ve scored over the past couple years, all while shopping in the store!

It’s now been well over a year since I was doing this and have found a real comfort in knowing that if I ever hit a rough patch again in my life, that I’ll be just fine due to my sheer resourcefulness. Anyone can do this if they really have to. It may take a little bit of studying and a keen eye but you can pull it off. The thrill of scoring something you know isn’t supposed to be in there for $2.99 is the best feeling in the world. It’s a rush and it’s frankly why I manifested it into this blog.

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Please stay tuned because my upcoming post will cover the best things to search for at a thrift store.