Thrift stores and estate sales are rife with hidden gems. As a vintage store owner, I used to spend lots-o-time in thrift stores looking for true, one-of-a-kind gems that comply with our store filters (I spend less time than I used to - but that’s another blog post). That said, when I do go I am acutely aware of just how much is available for creative conscious consumption by simply thinking out of the (big) box. I’m here to remind you to pick your head up, Conscious Consumers. Let's extend conscious consumption beyond clothing!
1. Cutlery - I know, I know…weird, but as outdoor enthusiasts, we use second-hand cutlery for camping and we often use it to replace plastic cutlery for on-the-go needs or even small gatherings. Think on-the-go snacking, lunch boxes, and beach picnics - a super easy way to reduce your plastic consumption and footprint!!
Image: Mix and match thrifted vintage cutlery from Etsy Dealer VintageToyShoppe
👉🏼Tip: Old spoons are the perfect herb-gardeners or garden starter tool (perfect for planting little seeds)
Side note: Conscious consumerism does ask that we do a little more work, work that disposable culture markets as "time-saving". In the case of mix and match cutlery it asks that we do the dishes rather than toss plastic.
2. Quality Cookware and Housewares (misc) - usually found at estate sales, I never buy this for our store - because we don’t sell that stuff, but you can sure as shit bet that if I find All-Clad or quality copper cooking pieces that fill a gap in my husband's quiver (he’s the cook) I grab. High-quality cookware goes the distance (like for life) if maintained and cared for well and it isn’t inexpensive for that very reason.
Image credit via: Culinarylore.com
3. Glassware - From juice cups to wine glasses - definitely stock up on these at your local thrift versus buying new. Spending fifty cents on a glass means you won’t cry when it inevitably breaks from your toddler/roommate/house guest. Plus, there’s always the chance you score some fun-kitschy-novelty mug from someone’s vacay in the '80s - the perfect pencil cup for your desk.
We resell vintage glassware in our store - but hard facts - there is no reason to buy NEW glasses with the amount that's out there to be had.
4. Linens - Today, big-box stores are lining their shelves with cute trendy “linens” at low prices often made with polyester. They look great in that catalog or on Instagram, but have you ever slept under polyester sheets? THE WORST! It’s like sleeping under a plastic bag. Look for quality and clean 100% linen or 100% cotton when out hunting for bargains.
We invested in 100% quality linen sheets for our summer sleeping about five years ago and I have no idea why we waited so long - but the fact is linen sheets are expensive and a luxury, so when you find them for ¼ of the price it’s a win!
👉🏼Tip: check the CLOSETS at estate sales - most folks forget to check there, but that’s where the linens be! I rarely find 100% linen sheets thrifting - but I did score my daughter gorgeous Ralph Lauren 100% Cotton Sheets (with a non girly print) for her bed ($12) and we tie dyed pillow cases for matching!
5. Beach and Bath Towels - I love quality vintage towels - so when I find high-quality, clean, and good condition towels I grab ‘em. Thankfully, I could care less about matchy matchy. I’m very inspired by European country homes and old-school charm. Some of our best beach towels and my daughter’s camp towels I found thrifting. Kids (especially little ones with sensory sensitivities) love them because they’re actually soft -most are 100% cotton and absorb water better than towels that have synthetic fibers often found at the value stores.
Image from Pinterest
👉🏼Tip: Read labels both in big box stores and thrift stores! Just like eating healthy - reading the labels is key for knowing what’s going in your home and on your body.
6. Cloth Napkins - We use cloth napkins at home over paper towels slash napkins. We throw them in with our wash (again, quick and easy) and they are WAY classier to use than the disposable ones. There are so many fab cloth napkins found thrifting that there’s no need to buy new! When they get worn out they turn into rags - that’s what I call trickle-down economics.
Image of Vintage Cloth Napkins from Food For A Year Blog Post
These are just some of the categories I tend to peruse through when I’m popping into a thrift store that extend beyond our storefront or beyond reselling. I am constantly underwhelmed shopping big box stores and overwhelmed shopping online (too many choices), and honestly I always remind myself that for every single time I buy second hand, I remove myself from the production equation (there is a beancounter counting our purchase as they forecast future production based on growth). If you aren’t as budget concerned or don’t have the time or don’t enjoy the overwhelm of thrift or estate sales - then hit up the many online sellers (including us 😉) that have already found some of these items and give them your support. You’ll be surprised what you find!
Happy hunting and thanks for reading!