Tag Archives: books

Top 10 Things To Look For In A Thrift Store

OH MAN. This topic was a long time coming. I’ve had tons of requests to do a post like this for some time. So here they are. My top 10 categories I hunt for (and you should too) when I’m out junkin in the thrift stores. Ready > Set > Go!

– Belts / Jewelry

Hand-tooled, leather, faux punk, western, southern. They’re all beautiful and can fetch a pretty penny (that is, if you can stand to part with them.)

– Pottery/Vintage Ceramics/Mugs/Glasswear

Pottery is a tricky one. There’s the old stalwarts such as McCoy which I come across every so often. But pottery and ceramics are also subject specific too. If you see a glazed mini-planter with a cute little baby deer on it, odds are that somebody obsessively collects baby deer stuff and they’ll likely have to have it.

– Footwear

From special edition Air Jordans to Manolo Blahniks. They do exist out there and can turn up anywhere.

– T-Shirts

A definite personal item. I’m an admitted t-shirt junkie. I like vintage, one of a kind or ironic shirts. T-shirts store easily and don’t take up too much space. Band shirts and big name brand threads can sell quite well if in good shape. Be sure to closely inspect clothing and hold it up to an angle to the store’s lights to check for any hidden oil spots or stains.

– Records

This one is mostly self-explanatory. Thrift stores occasionally let great collections slip into their racks so you have to keep your eyes peeled. Be sure to actually inspect the vinyl itself, as 9 out of 10 times the record is incredibly beat up.

– Artwork (Vintage Oils, Screen Prints, Needleworks, etc)

My personal forte’ is artwork. Be on the lookout for original screen prints, oil paintings, lithographs, etc. This is a tricky category as you need to know about printing and reproduction practices but can be very lucrative if you master some basics. Having a smart phone with internet connection while in the store can help you quick search artists and styles, lessening the gamble.

– Jackets / Outerwear

Since I live in a (super god-damned) cold region of our country, I’m always buying outerwear. Vintage leathers, corduroys, flannels, furs can fetch a lot in consignment shops. Be sure to give them a thorough once-over before you buy. Hold them to the light and be looking for stains, tears, broken zippers/snaps, and missing pocket linings.

– Lamps, Picture Frames and Home Decor

These sell great on Etsy or even in on a regular garage sale. Be aware that they can be a bitch to store and ship though. Be sure to check for cracks in porcelain lamps and most thrift shops provide a nearby socket (and sometimes a bulb) to test out the object to see if it’s in working condition.

– Books

Another one that’s highly subjective. Whether you’re an artist and need fodder for collages, have kids, graphic designer, or just want a new pulpy read. Thrift shops can feature a great selection of literature to peruse. I’ve even found original signed copies of books by David Sedaris, Bruce Mau and Thomas L. Friedman!

– Out-of-Print Commodity Items

This could include anything from camera stands (shown) to milk crates or bottle openers. This particular topic harkens me back to my video post on how I just prefer “old sh*t that works better than the new sh*t“. You’d be surprised at how much more visceral and satisfying it is to open up a bottle of beer with an old iron bottle opener  and feel the hefty weight of it. Or maybe you’re shooting with an old Polaroid camera and shaking it to watch it develop in your finger tips.

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Please feel free to discuss and comment if you think I missed anything or any glaring category.

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Thrift Gifts – What To Give and What Not To Give.

The holidays are upon us and for some people that pesky recession is still in full effect. Whether you have the means or not, most folks are probably going to be conscious of their spending this holiday season – or until the economy completely “recovers”. With that said Jess and I have been working on a post to divulge the best thriftable holiday gifts to give. Jess sums it up best below:

So here we are at another holiday crossroads. I know for me Christmas lost its sentiment a few years ago. Reason being, time and money. The idea of dedicating my weekends driving around to different malls or shops searching for the perfect gift seems torturous. Especially since holiday shopping has turned into the latest extreme sport. The obvious answer… thrifting for holiday gifts.

MAKE A LIST, CHECK IT TWICE: Before you start you may want to make a list of the people you are shopping for to ensure no one is left out. Even Santa has a list. Plus, last minute holiday shopping is no bueno.

PLAN YOUR ROUTE, ALLOW FOR SURPRISES: If you’re like me you’ll want to get it all done in one day. Google maps is the best way to map out an attack strategy. Simply pick your general destination and search for thrift stores. Even if you have a regular set route, you may discover another store not too far out of the way.

HUNT IN THE DOWNTIMES: Obviously weekends are going to be a circus. If you are lucky enough to dedicate a weekday, don’t think twice, just do it. If you’re really feeling adventurous, make a day trip out of it and drive into the unknown countryside. Just make sure you call beforehand to assure the locations are open.

HIT EM WITH THE WARM & FUZZY: Which brings us to what to get. Thrift store holiday shopping is a bit of a challenge for one reason. You don’t want to give people junk. Put your gift ideas into perspective for the individual recipient. You don’t want to be like my uncle Dan, who notoriously dishes out useless crap at Christmas, such as “used flash lights” and “marine biology periodicals.”

These are our top thrift store holiday gift ideas:

T-Shirts & Cardigans. I fall back on thrift store t shirts for many occasions. The more funny and random the better. Try to find shirts that are a poly-cotton blend. They are the most comfortable.

Mexican Woven Blankets. They are vibrant and warm. Just make sure it’s in good condition, no stains.

Needle Point package. There are some pretty rad needle point patterns out there. You can choose to either give the gift away in the package for your crafty friends, or do the work yourself and frame it. You can find some really neat vintage ones on Etsy too.

Books. These are usually pretty easy to come by if you know the person’s literature preferences well enough. Any book you can usually find in a used book store or a Half Price Books – you can usually find it eventually in a thrift store, for half the used price.

Mugs. The funny and ironic, the ones with states, countries or kittens on them are always a safe bet.

Vintage Decanters. With a recent spike in interest from shows like Mad Men and Wine Library.TV I’ve started noticing that thrift stores are brimming with vintage decanters. Some of them are truly unique and beautiful. They can be used for red wine(s), and/or any hard liquor. Classy.

Board games. This is a new favorite of mine. I love hunting for a particular board game and then eventually finding it all in tact. Some recent favorites of mine are Apples to Apples, and Rummikub. These also provide a post-meal/post-present opening fun time with your family. NOTE: Heavy drinking makes any board game that much more fun with family…

That should be quite enough to encourage you all to get out there and get thrifting for some of your gifts this year. Time is running out! We’d also like to know what you all think would make a great thrift gift. Comment or email in. Have you ever given or received a thrifted gift? MERRY THRIFTSMAS TO ALL.

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Things I’ve Found Lately (and why).

This week I go solo and show you some personal items I’ve recently nabbed. I cover what I look for in a thrift store, and what you should be keeping and eye out for when you’re out thrifting. Click the image above for the video.

I also posted a few shots from some other goods I picked up recently. Mostly books – as usual. All of the books were under a buck. The camera bag (shown in the video) was $2.99.

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* HEAD ON OVER: Arc’s Value Village Thrift Stores & Donation Centers Opens in Saint Paul. Arc’s Value Village Thrift Stores & Donation Centers will become a part of the rich retail history of White Bear Avenue with the opening of Arc’s fourth and largest Twin Cities store in the Hillcrest Shopping Center, 1650 White Bear Ave. N., St. Paul. Hillcrest Shopping Center is just south of Highway 36 on White Bear Avenue, near Aldrich Arena. The store will celebrate with a Grand Opening on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2009.

Don’t Dwell On It – Act On Your Passion!


EXTRA LIGHT THRIFTING week on my end. Lots of stuff going on this Fall. Fall is when most businesses slough off the last of their peeling suntans and kick it back into high gear. I managed to score a small stack of Dwell magazines for $2 each. It’s one of my top 3 favorite publications of all time. A little design, a little architecture, a little product design thrown in for good measure, just all around good, idea sparking reading. Check it out here and get a subscription whydont’cha.

SLIGHTLY OFF TOPIC: I’d like to mention/PLUG something for all you readers. About 2 years ago I was laid off for a few months from my 9-5 design job and started just going to thrift stores. Simply because I had the time to do it and because I’m pretty keen on spotting shit that resells for good coin. I lived very comfortably doing this for a full time job those few months. That’s what initially spawned this blog. During that time, I also discovered a dude named Gary Vaynerchuk. Gary is this crazy, A.D.D. north-Jersey guy who has a great wine video blog (Vlog?). I can honestly say that Gary’s passion for his lo-fi Vlog helped keep me motivated to get going and act on my passion of kickin around thrift shops and supporting myself when I didn’t have steady income. It’s amazing what a person can find out about themselves when faced with a bout of unemployment. He’s recently come out with a book that I’m almost done reading called “CRUSH IT: Why Now Is Time To Cash In On Your Passion.” So far it’s exactly like Gary, direct, motivating, and funny. You can pick it up here from Amazon.com as well. It’s people like Gary that emit hustle and motivate followers to act on their passions in life. So as the nights get longer and the fleeting daylight sucks your energy level, pick up this lil’ book for a shot of literary espresso. You won’t be disappointed – trust me.

Sun Tea and Dinosaur Rummy

Scored a small but very cool stash this weekend. More gems to sell on my Etsy page. Including a hand-stitched  set of cross stitch art ($.99 each). Kinda cutesy. Kinda cheesy. You decide.

Second of all, I’ve been making a lot of Kombucha Tea lately. So I was lacking a way to serve and store it. When I found in a YouTube video that those vintage Sun Tea jars with the dispenser spigot make for the best way to keep it in your fridge. It took me 3 weeks to finally find some non-corny versions of those vintage Sun Tea jars, check out the  pics of the ones I gnabbed, real pretty. The jars were each $3.99, sort of steep but those things are hard to find!

I also randomly found (in the book section) a small set of vintage dinosaur rummy cards ($.99). All of the illustrations are done in clay and set in sort of cheesy prehistoric dinosaur scenes. Set of 32 – all there. Count them before you leave the store to be sure they’re all there folks.

Lastly, I picked up another Frank McCourt book ($.99), first one Angela’s Ashes is real good. I sort of came in late on the whole Mr. McCourt thing.

Shane gets crossed out.

Serious book update 4.0

I’ve been finding a lot of books here & there, what can I say. I think because as I age and as a designer, I’m utilizing these piles of books more than I ever thought I would. There was a time not too long ago, when I considered posting a massive craigslist ad telling folks I was an ex-designer selling all his books for dirt cheap. Reason mainly being is I really hate moving these things. I’ve got at least 8 of those Rubbermaid bins full of them. Those are the bins you got to watch and make sure mom or pops doesn’t try and hoist or it could put them out for the count. Go click around, I’m not gonna detail every book I found, but some are old some are newer, all are cool. All the books were between $.75 – 2.50. Oh and check out the scrawls in some of them, pretty funny stuff, John wasn’t having it that Shane marked his territory in John’s book, John crossed him out. If this were Oakland, that type of behavior starts gang feuds – and gets your face cut.

Books arent all that I found, I gnabbed a cool Chicago mug (again) for my buddy Joe over at Overproof. I found a ton of blank t-shirts (puts my total count somewhere around 300 is my guess). Finally, I absorbed a box of those cool manila “book pockets.” You know, those old things in the front of old library books that held that stamp card… About 250 of them. I’m thinking I wanna do something with a 7″ cover design and utilize them like that somehow. Who knows. The box of them were $2.50

“I would’ve named you Kingsley…”

Book update version 3.0.

Found a gold mine at a couple of the “up north” thrift stores. Out of all the books shown – none were over $2 each.  I found what I believe to be 3 of what HAVE to be the main influences for one of my favorite movies of all time, Wes Andersons’ “The Life Aquatic w/ Steve Zissou.” I mean check out those shots of Cousteau, the yellow helmet with the antennae, the baby blue diver suits, the red stocking caps, the sea lab research facility, fricking great!

Also scored some more old books with great illustrations in them, some vintage books on mammals and animals, Swedish people, a book on one of my favorite painters Mark Rothko (note: do not try to explain Rothko to your suburban parents, but if you are in NYC, just take them to the Guggenheim and the MOMA and let them experience them in person, so much easier to explain then.) I find myself defending a lot of minimalist/modern/pioneering painters which is frustrating sometimes. Some folks will rub the old “I could’ve done that” bullshit on you. Well, then… Why didn’t you? This artist is famous because they did it first. So grow up and respect it. People have been known to drop to their knees and pray/weep/smile in front of Rothko’s paintings. Find me someone who does that in front of a Norman Rockwell painting and I’ll show you a retard.

Final note/tip while we’re on the topic of art: when I attended art school a few years back supplies were extremely expensive, art school IS extremely expensive. I can’t imagine it’s getting cheaper any time soon. To all the ramen-eating art students out there, hit up a thrift shop. I’ve never NOT seen shelves full of new or hardly used sketch pads, paper, supplies, etc. I picked up the one above for $1.00 it apparently used to be belong to a gal named Sue Holmstrom. Thanks Sue!

More soon –