Junk shopping vs. Bargain Buys vs. Handmade

thrift store post-001

It’s no secret that second hand shopping and DIY creations are on a major high. Personally, I don’t think it’s anything new, I think it just gets more attention now with social media and internet. I know plenty of older people who have been using paint, junk and imagination to adorn beautiful homes for decades, long before anyone ever thought about making it trendy. Mention anything about a blog or Pinterest to them and they’ll look at you like you have three heads…but they could out-DIY the best of us. That said, because it is getting to be so popular to junk shop (or whatever you call it), it is handy to know a few things about what you are doing before heading out to shop for a deal to ensure you get the most bang for your buck.

Where is the best places to get good deals anyway? Every town is different and every person probably has their own opinions on the subject, but here is a few things I’ve found personally from the four states I’ve lived in.

  1. There are thrift stores and then there are junk stores. There is a difference. Thrift stores are places like Goodwill, Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity, etc. They are chain stores that you can find pretty much anywhere. Junk stores don’t call themselves junk stores, but you can spot the difference a mile away. Junk stores are your local places that Mr. Bob and Miss Betty run, and usually look like someone’s garage threw up in a warehouse. The junkier, scarier, and the more stray cats running around, the better deal you’re likely to find. The big difference between the two is, thrift stores have higher prices than junk stores and they won’t negotiate on price. Thrift stores do have sales from time to time, and that’s when you can find a good deal. You might get away with negotiating price at a junk store, depending on who’s running it, but the start out price will be much less than a thrift store. I’d try it unless there is a sign specifically stating that they do not.  I’d pick a junk store over a thrift store any day! Sometimes you are better off shopping at Walmart than a thrift store, because the prices are set so high. Antique stores sort of fall in between these two. You may or may not find reasonably priced stuff, it all depends on who’s running it and how high end they present themselves. They typically don’t negotiate on price, because different vendors sell at them.
  2. I define bargain shopping as buying something new for a second hand price. Sometimes thrifting fails me completely and I’ll have to rely on sniffing out a good deal elsewhere for what I need. Places I like to rummage through are Ross, TJ Max, Roses, Ollies, Home Goods, Big Lots, The Treasure Hunt, and local places. Other places might be Ikea, Amazon, or Ebay. Just because it is new, doesn’t mean you have to pay full price for it, so don’t rule out checking  for what you need at a discount store. (Of course I’m certainly not ruling out a good clearance item at a regular store, but that’s not usually where I start looking.)
  3. Garage sales and Flee markets are my absolute top choice for fabulous deals. People selling at them just want to make a sale and, for the most part, will be happy to haggle prices until you are happy. Don’t be scared to make an offer! Bigger things like furniture will almost always be ridiculously inexpensive if found at a garage sale or flee market.
  4. Online shopping on Craigslist or other such local sites is also a great option if you are comfortable with that sort of thing. Just be careful with it, meeting at a neutral location for pickup is always a good idea. Sometimes people will lower price if you ask, but not if they say the price is firm in the add.
  5. Lastly, there is the option of no shopping at all. Hand making something might be the right route to go for the best price. Try using building scraps or something you already have to make what you want. Most fabric/craft stores have online coupons available all of the time that make buying supplies affordable. Handmade is going to only be the best deal if you already have, or can acquire the materials and spend the time to do it for less than it would cost to purchase. Don’t forget time is money, so a ten hour job might not really pay off in the end.

Some people have amazing luck at finding roadside furniture or free stuff on Craigslist. I personally have never had much luck with either. It’s always something to consider keeping an eye out for though!

The all around best advise I can give for shopping is to know your prices. Suppose I see a $10 dollar lamp at a thrift store that needs a makeover plus a new cord. I know it will cost me $10 for a shade, plus $3.50 for a can of spray paint, plus $8 for a replacement cord kit giving me a total of $31.50 for the completed lamp. I know I can get a$12 lamp at Roses that already has a shade and only needs to be spray painted. Even if I spend $3.50 on the spray paint, I still only come out to $15.50 for a brand new lamp, and it’s much less work. You know which one I’ll end up buying! The same example can be applied to anything, if you know what it’s going to cost you fix something, you’ll never waste money on “a good deal”.

When shopping for anything, it’s best to keep an open mind. You may be looking for a dresser but you find an amazing hutch for a knock out price instead…different pieces will work for the same function if you are willing to not get too wrapped around the idea of something specific. Also, if I know something is useful and good quality, I’ll buy it when I see it if the price is right. I bought a $5 full length mirror the other day with a solid wood frame. It was $5 because the wood had a crack. Big crises that took all of two seconds to fix when I got it home. I didn’t absolutely need it right that second, but I knew I’d never find one of that quality for that price again.

Well that’s enough jabbering on about this for one post. If you know of any great places in your local area, or handy shopping tips feel free to mention them in the comments so other people can benefit from them!

Proverbs 15:16   Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith.

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About Abby

I'm a mom, blogger, and shop owner. I love all things creative, especially sewing! Follow along at www.chapterthirtyseven.com
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One Response to Junk shopping vs. Bargain Buys vs. Handmade

  1. Erin & Dan says:

    Hi Abby –
    We recently found your blog through some link parties and totally dig what you’ve got going on :)
    We are nominating you and your blog for a Liebster Award!
    Check out our latest post for more info on what it means and how to celebrate :)

    http://diypassion.com/2014/03/31/diy-passions-nomination-for-the-liebster-awards/#more-3608

    Congrats!
    Erin & Dan

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