thrifting: a family thing

It's no small secret that I love to thrift.  But it's also no small secret that I have a bunch of kids.  Kids + thrifting can be challenging.  LOTS of breakables.  LOTS of clothing racks.  Four kids + one mommy = Outnumbered.  I've learned (painfully) to avoid the smaller stores when I'm carting the crew.  I stick to wide aisles and fenced off ceramics (ok, so I wish that last part was an option).  

I've also learned to make a beeline for the book section as soon as we enter the store.  Each kid gets to pick out a couple books and they are responsible for carrying their books around the store until we checkout.  No more free hands.  No more grabbing random strange objects that look cool to a kid but freak mommy out and then proceeding to throw them in her cart where they get hidden underneath the rest of the goods and end up coming home with us.  Nope.  No more.  Even Legend is distracted by a book in his hands and gives me at least 15 minutes to stake out the store, grab what I've been looking for, and get outta Dodge.  

I'm also not above promising them ice cream for an incident free shopping spree.  Some call it bribery.  I like to think of it as a reward well earned.  Icing on the cake.

The secret to thrifting is that you have to go often.  The early bird gets the worm and the faithful thrifter get the treasure.  I usually make it my business to know when more merchandise is re-stocked  (some smaller thrift stores are continually bringing out merchandise, but larger chains like Goodwill often re-stock at the beginning of every week).  Most of the time it's fun.  I tell them we're going on a treasure hunt and I list what "treasures"  I need them to help me find.  

"Treasures" I'm always on the look-out for:

>>>> Old children's books
<<<< Vintage suitcases
>>>> Artwork
>>>> Frames
<<<< Vintage linens and fabric
>>>> Vintage children's toys
<<<< Vintage clothing
>>>>  Mid century Furniture
<<<<  Retro desk lamps
>>>>  Retro shoes
>>>>  Old maps
<<<<  Typewriters
>>>>  Quilts/ Afghans
<<<<  Fine china
>>>>  Retro clocks and radios
>>>>  Vintage handkerchiefs
<<<<  Tea cups and saucers
>>>>  Vintage sewing patterns
<<<<  Vintage kitchen utensils
>>>>  Vintage sewing supplies/craft supplies
>>>>  Vintage paper ephemera

I'm pretty selective and I like things for cheap so most of my best finds have been at little hole in the wall thrift stores in small towns.  The bigger chains have been raising their prices (grrrrrrr....) and I have a love/hate relationship with Goodwill (where's the good?  Goodwill doesn't really give anything to charity, their CEO is a billionaire, and they only "say" that they employ the handicapped but I've rarely seen that).  I have the utmost respect for Salvation Army, St. Vincent de Paul, and other ministry related thrift stores that have a proven track record of giving.  Most of these smaller stores will let you haggle on prices if you truly think the asking price is unfair, which I have on only a few occasions.  Goodwill doesn't do this anymore.  Another strike, in my opinion.   So, for the most part, shopping at the small stores is a win/win.

Now, if only their aisles were bigger and those ceramics were in a locked room....


Small Town Joy: said...

I just discovered a "new" thrift store near where I work. I am making plans to swoop in there on Friday just before I pick Pie up from preschool to stake the place out. So exciting!

Sarah said...

Oh I don't do it enough, but I love it too! Wow you have some killer finds! I just moved to a new area so I need to scope out the shops out here =)

- Sarah

Shauna Reed said...

shopping with kids is such a wildly intense experience. we should get some sort of reward i think.

Southern Gal said...

Great tips for moms of littles. And I always love to see your finds.

Melodee said...

what fun to do as a family! I always love your pics and the thrifted stuff is so cute (love how you arranged it all in the suitcase!)

ginanorma said...

We would have such a blast together! I've two of my afghans in my shop this week :0

I love your finds, that would be cool to have vintage children's books, I only have a few, Thumbelina is my fave!

I like how you walked us through your experience !

Catherine Anne said...

me too, me too! love it all

Kristen, pajama mama said...

we got the pierre book at a thrift store, too!

thanks for sharing your thoughts on goodwill,


carissa at lowercase letters said...

and now i have a big time let's go thrifting hankering. the books? i love. LOVE, i tell you!

Emily said...

this is my method of attack as well! it's always a special treat when my husband sends me off alone on a saturday morning to thrift :)

Rachel~Wildflower Photography Studio and a little bit vintage said...

i so adore thifting! :)

Missy said...

Our family, including kids, love thrift store shopping. Love it.


Kristin said...

Haha! I love your plan to get books in the kids hands straight away. Good thinking! If it makes you feel any better about Goodwill (although I agree with you), our local store employs primarily handicapped personnel. Thrifting is such a fun hobby, isn't it? Just stopped by for the first time today...nice to meet you!

Kelly said...

i don't go often enough. I too promise icee's if my guys make a shopping experience pain free. :)


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