Tag Archives: thrift stores

New Format Ahead

I’m proud to announce the first of two major announcements coming to the THINGS I FOUND brand.

We’re tweaking our format.

Now, don’t worry, the blog will still be the blog. It will showcase all of the thrift finds, articles, and snarky opinions. However, the frequency in which I post will be amped-the-eff-up. The issue was, that it’s incredibly hard to seek > find > accrue > shoot pics > crop+edit > and post so many items in big clusters, let alone write about each item and tell the price I got it for, etc. It was causing me some intense blogging anxiety, blogxiety, if you will. From now on, it’ll be so much easier to just post the items as I acquire them. This will help keep the blog more visually focused, as was the original intent. Simply put: If I find 2 items that day – I’m going to post 2 items that day. If I find 25 things that day, I’ll (try) to post those 25 things that day. Get it? Rapid-fire visual documentation, in (sort of) real-time, ‘cuz I love you guys. This will also translate into videos and interviews as well.

With that said, there’s a major bottleneck of treasures that I’ve acquired that I’ll be posting in clumps the next couple of weeks to get caught up. Get ready and stay tuned for the second big announcement coming real soon.

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Bargaining at a Thrift Store

AUDIBLE GASP! That’s right folks, I haggled (at the thrift store). It should also be noted that I also really love saying the word haggled.

Having opposed most forms of haggling at thrift stores in some previous posts, I feel I must now clarify. There’s always a time and a place for a good haggle and this was one of them: You see, my overly-technological-friendly friend Mitch has a few vinyl records but no turntable to play them on (what a chump right?), so with his birthday approaching I figured I can thrift him a turntable as a gift. I see turntables quite often and knew I’d come across one sooner or later. Fast forward to two months later (I know, i’m a bad friend!) I finally find one at a local thrift haunt of mine (pictured above). It’s beautiful, in really great shape, everything appears intact but the store wanted $20 for it. No dice. Too many variables were at play here. Sure, it was in excellent shape, but I didn’t know if it actually worked, if the needle was decent, if it needed a new belt, etc. So I did what any good haggler would do. I approached the woman who I knew was either an owner or who ran the place, told her my worries about the variables and she accepted my offer of $10 flat. BAM.

Ended up taking it in for a visit to Jerry Raskin’s Needle Doctor just to be sure everything was in tip-top shape. Threw on a new needle and belt on it for a grand total of $43 invested altogether. HAPPY BIRTHDAY (and now Christmas) MITCH! Not too shabby.

In North America (especially the Midwest) I feel haggling is a lost art. We’re way too timid. It’s partially why I feel shows like American Pickers and Pawn Stars are enjoying so much success – people inherently love a good haggle. Maybe we feel it’s rude or maybe it’s just the whole “Minnesota Nice” effect that blocks it from happening more often. The best and most universal piece of advice I give out is “it never hurts to ask.”

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Will You Take the Pledge?

SO IT’S BLACK FRIDAY AGAIN. The busiest shopping day of the year. A day that annually, makes me a little queasy. I could go on a long Adbusters-esque, anti-consumerism rant right here, but I’ll save it for some other time. I’ll keep it positive and proactive. With that said,  I’m personally challenging all of you to take my pledge this year.

Please pledge to: Thrift, make, upcycle or donate one (or more) gifts this year.

It’s just that easy. Please leave a comment on this blog, on our Twitter or our Facebook fan page saying “I ACCEPT!” Together, we can all help chip away at the taboo of having to buy new stuff every year.

This campaign will help you not only get in contact with your relatives and loved ones, but it will also make you feel great. Does your Uncle Jim like plaid lumberjack shirts? Find out his size and go thrift him a couple of awesome ones. Are you good at drawing, knitting, painting, screenprinting? Make something uniquely rad like my friend Dajana does here. Those frames her prints are in? Go thrift those too. You get the idea…

I’m not advocating “re-gifting”, that’s missing the point. I’m advocating taking the time and skills I know all of you have to make or hunt down something unique and memorable without having to spend a ton this holiday season. If you haven’t got the time or skills, you can still play a big part by donating to your local thrift store or to a great cause. Here’s a few of my personal favorites. The Acumen Fund / Animal Humane Society / Kiva.org

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How To Donate To A Thrift Store

HERE’S THE DEAL. While doing this year’s Fall cleaning, I amassed a huge box of stuff I didn’t need (and that I felt was worthy enough to donate) and let someone else enjoy. I figured a lot of readers may have never actually donated stuff or were wondering how it works. I made a quick intro video here – just in case you guys missed my ugly mug on camera.

Donating your stuff is really easy. Let’s have a look!

Step 1.) Gather the stuff you want to donate into sturdy boxes or bags. If you have glass or other breakables make sure to clearly mark and pad it accordingly.

NOTE: If you have lots of stuff, are too busy or simply cannot transport the goods to a store location yourself, most thrift stores will send some helpful volunteers with a donation truck to your house to load the goods up for you – AT NO COST TO YOU.

Step 2.) Drive to your thrift store. I usually go on a weekday or a Saturday as a lot of the thrift stores are religion-based and are not open on Sundays (their loss in my book.) The drop off spot usually varies. In my experience, it’s usually in the back or side of the store. If you’re unsure, just go inside and politely ask. They’re glad to take your donations, it’s what keeps them in business!

Step 3.) When you arrive at the “donation zone” there is usually a helper employee there to assist you and take the goods. They’re very helpful and will do all the heavy lifting for you. If they’re not standing there, you can usually knock or ring the bell and someone will assist you.Step 4.) After they take your goods, they’ll sort the goods for you. Most often they’ll ask you if you’d like a slip for a donated goods tax write-off. I usually don’t take it, but I did in this case to show you guys (pictured below). Oh and this time it came with a decent coupon and a punch card! Not too shabby.

Step 5.) You’re done! See, wasn’t that easy? Feel good knowing that your donations will get a second chance in the consumer cycle. Also, most thrift stores are tied to some pretty great charities and organizations. You donate your stuff, get a tax write off, and you appeased the thrift gods with good future thrifting karma!

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What Are the Best Days To Shop At Thrift Stores?

A highly requested topic for sure. To start, I’d like to say that I hope I don’t offend anyone with my rough synopsis. To clarify even further, my synopsis is merely a thoughtful opinion from all of my years thrifting.  I should also mention that this post pertains to thrift stores themselves, brick and mortar locations. Not garage sales, not pop-up shops, or even consignment shops, just regular, American, thrift stores.

The answer, in short, is on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Why you may ask? Old people. Here’s why:

The baby boomers are aging, the baby boomers are now, the old people. They’re now into their 60’s, 70’s and 80’s+ and up. This is a very powerful and large demographic. After World War II, folks came home, started families, bought houses, bought STUFF, the suburbs were spawned. That mentality of consume and move on may have started in the ‘burbs, but it spread to most of America pretty fast. It lasted for the next 55 years. The baby boomer generation was a bit savvier  than mine. You see, they were the kids of dust bowl/depression era parents. Those parents didn’t waste anything. They stretched dollars. They saved jars, and jars of rubber bands, etc. They got by. These were honest and true Americans. Ingenuity and resourcefulness to be proud of for sure. To think their parents’ actions, habits and teachings didn’t sink into their children’s fibers is foolish. They most certainly did. Our baby boomers are the O.G. thrifters. It just wasn’t as convenient for them. Until around the 1960’s thrift stores as we know them didn’t exist. Because American consumers didn’t waste, buy, and cough back up enough surplus to have needed them until after WWII.

Present day, the baby boomers are retired and they’re out and about. The middle of the week is easy navigating for them. Thrift stores, among a slough of other businesses are usually fairly slow on those days as well. So the stores put deals and mark-downs on those days to attract thrifty customers. Orange tags! Green tags! Blue tags! Store wide specials! Me and the old folks, that’s when we hit ’em up.

Next time you have a Tuesday or Wednesday off, stop by a thrift shop. Look around and see all of the old people. Think “that Justin guy was right” and then smile. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had quick conversations with some of my elders. Hearing great stories about items, dead brands, old tools, objects that I had no idea what they were used for. Some elderly people have seen the quizzical look on my face as I inspected something and walked over and told me about the item. How cool is that?

To my generation: Rest assured that the older folks probably are not hunting for the same stuff you are. That 1993 Weezer “Blue Album” t-shirt or mid-century Dutch designed end table is safe for your pickin.

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Sad Ass Mailbox

So I needed a new mailbox. Having no clue how much mailboxes cost I started looking online at Home Depot, Lowe’s and Menard’s websites. My research divulged that for an average metal mailbox the average price was about $35 and went up from there. I said to myself “screw that noise”. I went to the thrift stores.

The old one was just plain sad. Look at it. Truly the laughing stock of 16th Ave. The handle was a sharp, rusted bolt that I imagine must’ve scraped the postal workers’ wrist open a few times. The door (when it was attached) was held on by twist ties I salvaged from our bread bags. This solution was short lived and kept breaking. So I went out and hunted a new one. I’ve seen the occasional mailbox at the thrift stores now and again, but you just don’t care when you’re not looking for them. At the third store I stopped at I found one. 30% off that day. Ended up costing me $7.50 total. HALLELUJAH! Was it pretty? Nope. It was missing some paint here and there but structurally it was intact. It was huge, strong, black and perfect for what I needed. It was the Darth Vader of mailboxes. Hell yea. It was missing its red flag, so I took the flag off of the old sad mailbox and put it on the new one since they’re all universal. BAM. Almost good as new.

Just another simple, resourceful solution found at a thrift store.

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Thrifted Paintball Camouflage.

A couple of weekends ago I attended a bachelor party for a friend of mine. The plan was a day of paintball and then camping. The best man informed me that he had already went out and bought a full “camo outfit” at the army surplus store, just for the occasion. He wasn’t messing around. Now, I had never been paintballing but I know that you wear camouflage (if you want any chance at surviving the paintball welts) and that it can get pretty intense. I had a lot of unknowns going into this. Do I wear boots? Is it real paint? How bad does it hurt when you get hit? Should I wear a nut cup?! I was told to wear junky clothes because they’ll get ruined and most people just toss them after. This wasn’t true at all. The paint is non-toxic, washes out off completely and hardly shows up at all when you do get hit. Going into it with that sort of information all I knew is I wasn’t about to drop over $50 for some camouflage that I’ll  only wear once. I knew I could do better. I went to the thrift store.

Thrift stores almost always have army camouflage stuff. I see it all the time at my usual haunts. The best man paid $19.99 for his camouflage shirt and $29.99 for the stiff (unbreathable) waterproof camo pants. I found the top you see in the photos for $1.99. It’s a regular Target imprint brand t-shirt with some faded d-baggy, Ed Hardy-like griffin print or something on it, I can’t tell. Nevertheless, it fit well and the spotted camo pattern worked extremely well in our green, leafy, wooded playing field surroundings. The pants (which fit me perfect) were grabbed for $7.99. The whole outfit for under $10.

For the record I was only hit 2 times in the 3 hours we played. The milky yellow paint washed right out of both garments. I suppose I’ll have an outfit now if I ever go paintballing again, or I could use them for a Halloween ensemble or something creative.

Just another simple, resourceful solution found at a thrift store.

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