Friday, February 1, 2013

Hey, Macklemore! Can we go thrift shopping?

When my favorite bloggers over at Young House Love (YHL) called out to their readers about a little challenge, I couldn't turn a blind eye. And when said challenge included Macklemore, my new music crush, I jumped right in. Ok, that last part is a lie. I waited until the last day because I'm a procrastinator.

The challenge was inspired by Macklemore's hit song Thrift Shop. Here's the music video so you can see where YHL's inspiration came from. And here's the official unedited video for those that want the full experience (as YHL put it, it's a bit, um, saltier).

Now that we're all in the mood for thrifting, here were the rules of the challenge:

1. Go to a thrift shop with – just as the chorus of the song says – “$20 in your pocket”and take a picture. 
2. Spend that $20 any way you’d like and photograph your spoils.
3. Find one item (or more) referenced in the song and snap a pic.

It sounded easy enough to me. I like money, shopping and scavenger hunts ... what could go wrong? Famous last words.

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Here's what went wrong with this challenge. First of all, I didn't have any cash on me, which meant I couldn't complete step one. Fail.

Instead, I had to wait until Jesse got home, which was well after I was done shopping, and ask him for $20. I guess I didn't have to admit that part, but this post is quickly becoming a therapy session.

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My second failure began when I entered the first thrift shop. As soon as I walked in I remembered why I never go ... they make me all itchy. They're a great idea in theory, but all I see when I walk in are racks upon racks of smelly clothing, piles of chipped dishes and cheap vases everywhere. There's just so. much. junk.

I'm sure I sound pretentious, but let me just say that I want to like thrift shopping. I see some bloggers write about outfits that are almost entirely thrifted, and they're cute! And then there are the bloggers that find sweet little nick-nacks and all I can think is, why don't I see that when I go thrift shopping? It's straight up jealousy over here as I'm sifting through janky Walkmans and Garfield memorabilia. Not kidding.

I'm beginning to think the real problem is that people around here aren't very good donors. They need to step up their game so I can have a better thrift shopping experience.

I'm probably getting the stink eye from every DIY blogger right now because I don't know how to thrift. I can feel the rejection through my computer.

That's the end of my tangent, so let's move onto step three. I know I skipped step two, but I'll come back to that. Step three was the scavenger hunt where you had to find items mentioned in the song and photograph them. I felt a little shady, but I managed to get a few good pictures.

Starting on the top, left to right (song lyrics included): 
1. John Wayne ain't got nothin' on my fringe game
2. The sneaker heads would be like “Ah, he got the Velcros” 
3. Dressed in all pink except my gator shoes
4. I bought a skeet blanket, then I bought a knee board
5. I’m digging, I’m digging, I’m searching right through that luggage

I found so much crazy stuff at my first stop that I thought about working my way through the whole song, but I had to get out of there before I broke into hives. I left the store empty-handed. I was pretty deflated at this point and considered giving up. 

On my way home, I remembered the Habitat Re-Store and figured I'd give it a try. While it's not a traditional thrift shop, they carry some secondhand items. The best part is that they don't carry any clothing, and I'm coming to realize that's the part that makes me feel a little blerg about the whole experience.

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I was hoping to come out with a new lamp or maybe a few of my own nick-nacks to display, but I found something that was much better. As I perused the aisles, I came across a bamboo coffee table with tons of potential, but a) it wasn't in my price range, and b) I had nowhere for it to go, so I left it behind and kept looking. (I wonder if the chairs came with it?)

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Just as I rounded the corner, I came across the cutest little chair, but it looked too good to be true. It had a nice, dark stain that was worn down in all of the right places, turned legs and very unique spindles. As people passed by I could feel them staring me down, wishing they had gotten there first. (Thrifting Lesson #1: The moment you start protecting a chair like it's your first-born, you know you've found something good. Don't set it down.)

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This picture doesn't really do it justice, but I fell in love. It's actually a really petite chair, but it's hard to tell without anything nearby for comparison.

I stood there for about five minutes, shaking it and checking every spindle. One of the spindles was a bit wobbly, but nothing that jeopardized the structure of the chair. I couldn't believe that I actually found something good.

My next worry was the price. There was no tag on it, so I was nervous that it would blow through my $20 budget. (Keep in mind, I have very little experience with thrifting.) I took the chair up to the register and asked the cashier for the price. She pointed to "the guy in the green apron" and told me to ask him. I asked for the price and then held my breath as he inspected the chair ... that was my chance ... "this spindle right here is a little loose" ... he shook it to check my accusation and replied ... "six dollars" ... done. Not only did I not break the budget, I still had $14 to spare. I'm pretty sure I was grinning from ear to ear as I skipped walked out of the store with my treasure.

I quickly decided that my chair would look great in our guest room. We have a full-sized bed in there, but only one nightstand. It would be nice to have a flat surface on the other side of the bed to give guests someplace to set things (i.e. glasses, jewelry, cellphone, etc.). With the nightstand idea in my head and fourteen imaginary dollars in my pocket, I headed over to TJ Maxx in search of something cute to set on the seat. $35 later I was walking to my car with several great options, a gift for a friend, cleaning spray and a hole in my pocket!

Here's what it looks like in our guest room. I may choose to paint it down the road, but for now I'm enjoying the worn down look. As YHL taught me, live with it for awhile before making any drastic changes.

Chair by bed

Let's take a closer look at that chair ...

chair closeup

That's right, it's the Young House Love book for the YHL challenge. It was too easy to pass up. :)

And with that, my dramatic tail of thrift shopping has come to an end. Is anyone still reading? It's alright if you just looked at the pictures and skipped over the words. I didn't intend to say so much, but I guess my story was more traumatizing than I realized.

I'm off to go see what everyone else bought with their $20. Who's coming with me?!

You can read about my first, less traumatic thrift shopping experience here. Secondhand furniture is my jam. Do you like thrift shopping? If so, what kind of things do you shop for? Any tricks you can share to help me get over my fear?


  1. That chair is one incredible find! And $6 to boot. I'm always get jealous reading about other people's finds too
    Thanks for stopping by my blog :o)

    1. I'm glad to hear that other people liked it! I keep walking past my guest room, just to take a peek at the chair. :)

  2. I feel the same way about thrift stores! I WANT to be able to find diamonds in the rough, but whenever I go it just makes me feel like I need to take a shower! Haha...

    1. Glad to hear I'm not the only one! I think I need to go with a seasoned thrifter next time. Maybe they can point me in the right direction! :)

  3. I love that chair, it's perfect for your guest room!! Congrats on your thrifting score ;-)

    1. Thanks! I'm still so happy that I lucked out! :)

  4. For not having a 'lot of experience with thrifting' you did a GREAT job!! We love this find, especially the aged patina on the wood ~ and all for $6 ~ SCORE!!

    1. Thanks so much! I think it'll be one of those finds that makes me smile every time I see it. :)

  5. what about that chevron-y blanket at the top? Was it gross?

    1. Hi Tracey! I'm so happy to see you read my post - thanks for "stopping by". :)

      You know, I looked at that in the store, but I wasn't sure if I could clean it properly. I really need to get over my fear of secondhand fabrics, yarn, etc. I just always wonder where it's been in the past. Now you're making me wonder if it's still there. It might look cute in our living room ...

    2. I agree with Tracey, go back. The secret to great thrift shopping is to casually scan and only inspect things that really pop out and get your attention. Searching and sifting can be too tedious. Take another look at that pic and straight away that blanket jumps right out at you. As for cleaning secondhand fabrics, anything that can handle a hot wash always makes you feel better but even on a cold wash, just run it through a few times. Anything that can be thrown in the dryer always makes me feel better, just because. I've thrift shopped linens, pillows, clothing and fabric furniture for years now and am happy to report we've never had any icky (or crawly) issues.
      That chair is super cool! Great find, it totally compliments the room.
      And btw, the smell of the stores always mildly annoys me. I put Vicks in my nostrils beforehand. Lol.

    3. Thank you so much for all the wonderful tips! I think my favorite tip is to put Vicks under my nose before entering the store - haha! I might have to give the thrift store one more chance now that I'm fully prepared to shop for textiles. Thanks again!

  6. You're right!! We feel the same about our "thrifting" experiences. I do believe it is the textile part that makes me twitch. When I come up for air its all too late and then I start losing my train of thought and just run out empty handed.

    1. I'm just so glad to hear I'm not the only one!

  7. What a great find! Love the color of the chair. Don't change a thing.

    1. Thanks so much! Now that I've spent a few days with it, I'm totally convinced to leave it as is. :)

  8. I know that Thrift Store in Laurel! It is overwhelming. Loads of clothes; lots of designer brands, and a tag is half off everyday. Cool find in the chair.


  9. Found you through YHL. That chair is GORGEOUS! I sure wish the Habitat ReStore here in Los Angeles would have such deals :/

    1. Thanks! I felt like it was a really lucky find for me. Most of the time I just find a bunch of junk! :)


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