Denver Post Past Columns

Barb Tobias is a fabulous columnist for The Denver Post. Check in monthly for a link to Barb’s Column, called…Thrift Talk Diva.

How to purge – and price – your garage-sale items – June 2013

How to price garage-sale items is the biggest challenge for most novice merchants. The key in determining pricing is to fairly assess the quality and condition of resale merchandise. PURGE. Start collecting your merchandise to sell by cleaning out attics, basements and closets. Pull out everything that hasn’t been used in the past year. (Chances are they won’t be used next year either.) Click to read more.

The Art of Garage Sale Bargaining – April 2013

People repeatedly ask where I shop to find such fabulous finds. The answer is … everywhere. Smart shopping is not whether you can find extraordinary things at local garage sales; rather it is a question of how and when you buy. Click to read more.

forsalePenny-Pinching Potpurri: Thrifty Tips – February 2013

With the economy still sluggishly creeping along, more and more smart shoppers are making frugal decisions that meet their budgets. Here are 11 thrifty tactics.

Shop thrift. The resale industry is booming, and for a good reason. People are dressing in frugal chic and decorating their homes with secondhand finds. Over the years, upgrading, as your budget will allow, can allow you to amass many cherished treasures. Hunt around for gently used or unique items at estate and garage sales, auctions and thrift stores. Each venue offers a distinctive adventure and you just might find that the “hunt” is an exciting quest versus the banality of purchasing new. Additionally, there is the environmentally responsible aspect of rescuing or repurposing used treasures. The thrill of the hunt and the art of recognizing a good deal come with time, but the rewards can be great. Click to read more.

Repurpose, Recycle, Paint, Purge: A Home Mini-Makeover for 2013 – January 2013

While 2013 is still fresh, it’s a good time to look around the house and see what needs doing. Homeowners can spiff up their dwellings while watching their budgets. Making better financial decisions while keeping an eye on our buying habits allows us to produce less waste and a live a richer life. Click to read more.

The Happy Marriage of Thrifting and Recycling – December 2012

Thrift stores and recycling go hand-in-hand. But consumers are often unaware that they can recycle a lot more than paper, glass and plastic. Here are three lesser-known recycling agencies that work alongside the thrift store industry. Click to read more.

These Thrift Shops Champion Community Outreach – October 2012

The community programs that benefit from most thrift stores may not be foremost in the minds of bargain-hunting shoppers.

Like many people, my early motivation to try “thrifting” was purely for the thrill of the hunt and the joy of snatching up fabulous items for a fraction of their original retail price. Click to read more.

DSC01243Lessons From a Three-Stop Thrift Crawl – September 2012

Fifty women gathered in the parking lot of the ARC Thrift Store in Green Mountain in August for my first hosted Thrift Crawl.

I’d like to say that philanthropy and the desire to recycle and go green spawned this idea. But it actually came to me last year after my HOA complained, ad nauseam, about the cars and merriment surrounding my annual garage sale. Click to read more.

A Vendors Take on the Mile High Flea Market – August 2012

HENDERSON — Enthralled by the grandeur of Mile High Flea Market, I took the four-day challenge.

As a shopper and as a vendor, I visited this sprawling bazaar, farmers market and antiques fair northeast of Denver on a consecutive Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Click to read more.

diva saleIf You’re Selling Toys, Say So … and Other Garage Sale Success Tips – July 2012

A hot marketing campaign can mean the difference between a busy, lucrative yard sale or garage sale and an exhausting event that reaps scant profits.

Granted, many elements go into holding a successful garage sale: the purge, the sorting and the set-up, to name a few. But the pre-sale chore that many people pay too little attention to is effective promotion. Click to read more.

3 Entrepreneurs Make an Art out of Collecting, Recycling and Plant Sales – June 2012

Selling secondhand or recycled items isn’t a novel idea. But here are three Denver entrepreneurs who have added a new twist to the resale game. Click to read more.

forsaleThrift-Store and Garage-Sale Tips Prepare You for Big Finds – May 2012

Years ago, I thrift shopped with complete abandon. Little thought was given to equipment, packing material or how I would get my new-to-me treasures home.

Today, as yard sale, garage sale and outdoor market season ramps up, I plan, and I turn my vehicle into a well-stocked “thrift-mobile.” Click to read more.

Denver Secondhand Store Molly’s Closet Know Its Pluses – April 2012

Thanks to that annoying midlife weight gain, shopping can become a wearisome proposition for women with widening girths. Most second hand shops cater to younger, slighter women. Sure, I was that svelte gal once. As a fashion model walking the American runways in my 20’s, I weighted 127 pounds and stood 5 feet 10 inches tall. I kept that shape until my mid-40’s, when I hit the proverbial hormonal roller coaster, and a size 16. Click to read more.

Barb's Photos 1561Best Spots to Hunt for Seconhand Treasures – March 2012

Most of us have less cash to burn these days, so buying other folks’ castoffs is a great way to save a few bucks.

The Internet, specialty shops, bookstores and going-out-of-business sales carry drastically reduced items that are especially good for occasional needs or events. Here are some of my go-to bargain hunting sites and stops. Click to read more.

As the economy spiraled downward and Americans tightened their belts, secondhand shops made a move onto Main Street.

Thrift shopping tends to increase during hard economic times, according to a recent Brigham Young University study. So it follows that secondhand shops are now among the fastest-growing outlets in the retail world, according to the Association of Resale Professionals. That trade group says the number of thrift stores has grown 7 percent a year over the past two years, with sales climbing 12 percent a year. Click to read more.

3 Entrepreneurs Make an Art out of Collecting, Recycling and Plant Sales

Selling secondhand or recycled items isn’t a novel idea. But here are three Denver entrepreneurs who have added a new twist to the resale game.

The Pine Needle Creek Barn Sale

Years ago, Sonia Nolta, then a FedEx driver, noticed all of the garage sales that peppered her routes. Then she began thrifting, and realized that she had an eye for collecting and a talent for restoring and decorating cast-offs. It wasn’t long before Sonia’s home was transformed into a showplace, and her hobby turned serious.

To accommodate this growing passion, her husband, Don Nolta, built a barn on their mountain property in Pine. His intentions were to have a workshop on the ground level, while Sonia used the upstairs for her projects. That dream was short-lived as carting heavy furniture up the stairs proved impossible.

The barn quickly became Sonia’s domain.

Equipped with the skills and ideal setting to start a business, Sonia increased her stock, became adept at painting furniture, and developed an eye for spotting trendy, vintage, retro and antique pieces.

Seven years ago, she opened a stall in one of Denver’s seasonal street markets and began selling her finds to the public. The venture was so successful that today she and Don set up shop at up to three “shows” a month.

Her business took another turn when Sonia realized that she still had numerous items to store after the street-market season ended. She decided to turn “The Barn” into a posh boutique for the Christmas season. She sent e-mails to friends and fans announcing the first Pine Needle Creek Barn Sale. Word spread quickly and she was surprised to find that people drove miles to attend her events. That winter sale became so popular that two years ago, Sonia began holding a spring barn sale that has proven to be more popular than her holiday event.

Look for Sonia Nolta this summer at the Paris Street Markets at Aspen Grove in Littleton and 29th Street in Boulder, and the Sweet William Market in the Stapleton neighborhood. To contact this seller, send e-mail to donsonia@msn.com.

BottleHood Colorado

Justin and Melissa Livingston started BottleHood Colorado to sell their recycled glassware at various street markets around the state. Their company turns bottles, collected from neighborhood restaurants and bars, into unusual household products, keeping a glut of glass from entering landfills while making a useful and fetching conversation piece.

As I wandered among this distinctive inventory at the Sweet William Street Market, I couldn’t help but wonder about the royalty issues, since the Livingstons are upcycling branded glassware. As it turns out, the Livingstons say their business has been embraced by a number of bottle companies who endorse reusing discarded glass. The throwaways are considered public domain.

Plus, Justin Livington quips, “There’s no better publicity than people walking around with repurposed Coors or Grey Goose (bottle) glasses.”

The Livingstons work from their home and a storage unit turned studio. They consider that work — upcycling discarded raw materials — to be an emerging art form. They learn through trial and error, and they’re rife with ideas. Wind chimes, candlesticks and herb trays are projects still on the drawing board.

Polishing the cut glass to get smooth beveled edges is the most time-consuming part of the process, but it is also what makes their items so marketable. Currently they sell tall and short beverage glasses, juice glasses, vases, lamps, jewelry (made from bottle necks), and platters and serving trays hewn from whiskey crates and wine barrels.

Every weekend the two join forces with Justin’s brother, Tanner Livingston, divvy up their time, and display the glassware at three different street markets. Their displays are rustic and recycled, their prices friendly. A pair of giant tumblers is $40, a set of cocktail glasses is $30, and two juice glasses go for $20.

Look for BottleHood Colorado products at the Boulder Farmers Market, Sweet William Market, and Sunday on the Streets at the Streets of Southglenn. For a complete list of events, visit the company’s website. Or, to contact BottleHood Colorado directly: 303-648-5567 or justin@ bottlehood.com.

The Gypsy Farm Bus

The Gypsy Farm Bus is the brainchild of Katherine Cornwell, a former Denver city planner who describes her traveling garden as a “micro farmers market.” Unique to city streets, this refurbished school bus offers communities an array of heirloom, organic and local plants.

Coming from a long line of southern Indiana farmers, Cornwell says the challenging economy will prompt a return to the earth; communities where people feed their families with fresh produce from urban plantings suggestive of the victory gardens.

She is encouraged by the recent passage of the Cottage Foods Act, which allows mom-and-pop organizations to sell homemade foodstuffs. With the support of friends, a grant from Food Denver and a micro grant from C.A.F.E., Cornwell raised $25,000 to design, build and market her traveling bus and its stock of healthy plants in urban communities.

She is intent on reconnecting people with homemade/homegrown products… skills Cornwell says “we, as a society, are quickly losing.”

To contact this vendor, send an e-mail to gypsyfarmbus@gmail.com.

Barb Tobias is a Colorado blogger, speaker, author and online radio show host. Her book, “Tossed & Found: Where Frugal is Chic” (Diva Press), chronicles her journey from farm girl to fashion model to thrift-store fashionista. Read more at ThriftTalkDiva.com

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