10 Commandments of Frugal ChicBy Michelle V. Rafter||February 22, 2011
Out of necessity, she started frequenting garage sales for clothes and household items, using her fashion insider’s eye to spot treasures in other people’s cast-offs. She became a garage sale circuit regular and, in the process, developed a reputation as a thrift store diva.
Over the years, Tobias’ financial circumstances improved and she went on to run a series of small businesses and work in corporate America. But her passion for thrift store fashion and second-hand home décor didn’t waver. By holding yearly or twice-yearly garage sales — she calls them “diva sales” — of second-hand goods she doesn’t want or need anymore, she says she dresses herself and outfits her home essentially for free.
Tobias, who is 64 and now lives in Evergreen, Colo., regularly shares her frugalista ways in talks to women’s groups and at consignment stores and in her side job as an interior decorator and private wardrobe consultant. She also imparts tips on the thrifting lifestyle on a radio show called Thrift Talk Diva and a book, Tossed & Found: Where Frugal is Chic. Her latest endeavor, a radio show called Trash Talk, begins on the Blog Talk Radio network in April.
In an interview with SecondAct, Tobias offers 10 commandments for cultivating frugal chic.
1. Thrifting is a process, not an event.
Bargain hunting is a lifestyle. “It’s something you do all the time; it’s always evolving, it’s very fluid,” Tobias says. “If you’re a rigid shopper, it might not be for you.”
2. You don’t have to be cheap to be thrifty.
Thrifting isn’t limited to garage sales. There are deals to be had at all price points — including very expensive items — and you just have to know where to find them. In addition to estate, tag and garage sales, Tobias coaches shoppers to frequent consignment stores, flea markets, auctions, demolition yards and rebuilding supply stores. The unifying thread is “finding pieces that are really wonderful,” she says.
3. Bargain hunting takes time.
Devote the hours you would have spent stopping at retail stores to thrifting. But don’t expect to spot that special something you might be looking for in a weekend or even a month. If you’re devoted to finding the perfect black sofa for your family room, for example, you need to be patient and flexible. Flexibility comes into play in case you see something other than what you originally intended to buy “and might have to redo your room to [accommodate] that fabulous piece, which is the fun of it,” Tobias says.
4. Buy only what you really love.
Like isn’t good enough, she says. If you only buy what you adore, you’ll spend less and avoid ending up with clothes in your closet that you never wear.
5. Accept that you will make mistakes.
Even if you think you love something, you might get it home and discover it’s not the right size, shape, color or fit. That’s okay. You can always sell it on eBay or Craigslist, or set it aside for your own garage or tag sale.
6. Be prepared.
You won’t be able to haul away that perfect sofa or the upright piano if you don’t have the right vehicle and equipment to take it home. Regular thrifters drive cars that can hold their furniture finds and always carry supplies such as pads, blankets, carpet remnants, bungee cords, ropes, rags, plastic bags, a toolbox and sanitizing wipes.
7. If you’re the creative type, make it work for you.
Not everyone can see an old cabinet in a consignment shop and visualize how beautiful it would look with a little wood stain or a fresh coat of paint. If you’re one of those people, use it to your advantage. That also means having the supplies you need to turn your finds into treasures, including tarnish remover, furniture oils, glue remover, paint sticks, artists’ brushes, felt squares, Velcro and cotton swabs.
8. Purge yearly.
Once a year, Tobias goes through every room, closest and drawer in her house to collect clothes, furniture and other items she doesn’t use or want. Then she turns her garage into a boutique for sales that generally net between $4,000 and $6,000. Disposing of stuff that’s just taking up space makes more room for new finds that you really want, she says.
9. In clothes, aim for fashionable, not trendy.
As a former model, Tobias understands the difference between being trendy — jeggings anyone? — and dressing fashionably in basic items that never go out of style. When thrifting, aim for the latter. When she speaks to women’s groups, Tobias makes a point of wearing outfits that cost under $25 for everything, including shoes and accessories. “Do I have things that are more than that? Of course. But I wear it to make the point that you can be fashionable for a little too,” she says.
10. Go bargain hunting when you’re on the road.
When she traveled for business and her colleagues went out for drinks, Tobias hit the local consignment shops. “I couldn’t buy furniture, but I could buy jewelry or hostess gifts or whatever else I could fit into my suitcase,” she says.
Letter From a Fan
I checked out your book on Amazon and it has a 5 star rating … Congratulations! I loved reading Tossed & Found; I’ve shared it with so many people. I’ve sent my friends to your website and signed up for your newsletter too. You are on fire!!!
Years ago I switched to thrift shopping and we have basically built our Leadville house with thrift finds (habitat for humanity building store, The RE store, etc.) and I’m now on my way to furnishing it … with thrift finds. It’s such a blast! Buying secondhand is smart and provides a sense of community. Think of the accomplishment when we change our buying habits to be 100% conscious of giving back, reducing, reusing and recycling on all levels.
Also, after your speaking engagement on 1/29/2011, I started buying thrift items that were on sale! It makes so much more sense to shop this way. My husband is so proud of me and my effortless ways to save so much money.
I was at the Financially Fit Females meeting Thursday night and your name came up when the group was asked to share saving success stories… more that once a woman said “Barb Tobias would be so proud that I got this blouse for $.99” or “…pants for $2.99.” The crowd when crazy with applause!
~ Tammy Gordon
When Authors “Get It Wrong”: How Reader Feedback Led To an Alternate Ending Version of my novel SLEEPING BEAUTY
Obviously, it’s very difficult to discuss changing the ending of a novel without actually disclosing what the ending is. If you hate spoilers, please stop reading now!
Have you ever really liked a novel, but been really, really unhappy with the ending? Before the internet came along, if you didn’t like a book’s outcome, it was basically a situation of “here’s the world’s tiniest violin playing the world’s saddest song.” The mere idea of changing a novel after publication was as unlikely as suggesting that someone fix that irritating smirk on The Mona Lisa.
These days, fans are “talking back,” whether through fan fiction (à la 50 Shades of Grey), or by simply interacting with authors on a more personal and immediate level on sites like Facebook and GoodReads. When I published my second rom-com Sleeping Beauty in September of 2011, I noticed right away that fans were talking back on the review pages—a lot.
Sleeping Beauty is “Memonto” meets “While You Were Sleeping.” It’s about a woman (Claire Beau) who has a sleep disorder called Klein-Levin Syndrome (aka “Sleeping Beauty Syndrome”). She “awakens” after seven weeks to find that she’s supposedly in the middle of a whirlwind love affair with a man she despises (Brendan Charmant), over the strenuous objections of her best friend (Davin Wibbens).
Although the novel has received mostly 4 and 5-star reviews on Amazon, fans seem to fall pretty solidly into “Team Brendan” and “Team Davin” camps. A typical “Team Davin” review on Amazon reads like this:
Did not like characters.
Okay, my title of this review is a little bit of a lie. I LOVED Davin. I had to force myself to finish it. And even then I only did because I was hoping she would end up with Davin.
And here is a typical “Team Brendan” review”
More depth than I expected
I was touched at how much Brendan obviously loved Claire: he was willing to start over again, at Square One, because the relationship they’d already developed was worth it.
And someone who decided not to take sides:
A Pleasant Surprise!
Brendan, West, and Davin provide interesting situations throughout the story. I laughed, cried, and debated outcomes with myself as I was reading.
In April 2012, I listened to my readers and published a standalone, “alternate ending” version of Sleeping Beauty called Sleeping Beauty Wakes Up, in which Claire ends up with “the other guy” (i.e. Davin Wibbens). However, Sleeping Beauty Wakes Up isn’t simply a different outcome tacked on to the ending of the novel. In Chapter 11 of Sleeping Beauty, the main character, Claire Beau, trips on a cable on a movie set. In Sleeping Beauty Wakes Up, she does not trip on the cable. Based on this one moment in time, events naturally cascade to a different conclusion. Sleeping Beauty Wakes Up contains about 50 pages of new material, and is approximately 10 pages longer than the original.
And here’s the thing: Those fans who were unhappy with the original ending? They were right! Sleeping Beauty Wakes Up is the book I should have written the first time around, the one I would have written if I’d had more courage and trusted my characters to do the right thing.
Which one should you read? Well, if you like your rom-coms in the form of a tall, sexy, silent-doctor type, then Sleeping Beauty is for you. If blonde, tanned, hot surfers who curse a blue streak are more your style, then I’d recommend Sleeping Beauty Wakes Up. The best part? You can read both (and about 25-30% of readers do).
Put away your tiny violins, kids, because now you can have it both ways!
***Both Sleeping Beauty and Sleeping Beauty Wakes Up are available for the Kindle on Amazon, and will be available on Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and the i-Store beginning the week of September 10th. You can read more about Elle’s other novels by going to www.ellelothlorien.com. Happy reading!***
“Thrift Talk” Diva
From farm girl, to fashion model, to frugal fashionista, Barb Tobias’ “tell-all” book, Tossed & Found, chronicles her journey into the thrift world, launching her “Frugal is Chic” speaking tour. www.ThriftTalkDiva.com.
The Bustling Thrift Scene … from Dicey to Divine
As the economy spiraled downward, Americans tightened their belts and secondhand shops made their move onto Main Street. Spencer James, lead writer of the Brigham Young University Study, states that thrift shopping increases when the economy slows, and that middle class families are shopping at thrift stores with the same regularity as lower income families. The study goes on to suggest that while high-income shoppers scour the secondhand market for antiques and unique finds, the average family is just trying to make their dollars stretch.
According to NARTS, National Association of Resale and Thrift Shops, resale continues to be one of the fastest growing sectors of the retail world, boasting over 30,000 thrift, resale and consignment shops. According to a NARTS spokesperson, the number of thrift stores has grown by 7% per year over the past two years with sales climbing 12% a year.
Thirty years ago, when I first dabbled in the thrift game, it wasn’t chic. I would duck around a corner if I spotted someone I knew as I viewed the endeavor to be quite seedy. But, times have changed. And, we who love thrift have watched the nation embrace the resale movement.
So, put on your shopping shoes and check out these trendy, cheap venues that range from dicey to the divine.
- The garage sale season kicks into high gear with the approach of spring. On any given weekend, garish signs point shoppers toward scores of promising moving sales, subdivision sales, or regional favorites; garage sales, tag sales and yard sales. Although plowing through piles of castoffs might be a lot of work, amazing bargains await those that have mastered the art of finding treasures in the piles of household rejects.
Competition is keen in the early hours of a sale when the professionals arrive to compete for the top finds. So take an hour or two to use an Internet mapping system to lay out a strategic plan. www.gsalr.com is my favorite online locator that pinpoints sales within cities nationwide, complete with addresses and descriptions of merchandise offered.
Adventurers should be prepared for muggy days, restricted hours and haphazard organization. But with a bit of preparation, GPSs and water bottles in hand, those who arrive early are most likely to grab the best deals.
- Flea Markets range from seriously squelchy to trendy. A bounty of wares, from corroded kitchen items to new eveningwear can be found strewn across tables and stacked in layers at these unpredictably exciting events. An afternoon of poking through rust-filled boxes or the interiors of shabby-chic furniture can be fun and profitable for families who enjoy a jaunt filled with surprises and new-to-you goods.
One of my favorite haunts is the Paris Street Market which sports a flurry of veteran vendors selling very chic merchandise. This makeshift market sets up in the parking lot of the Aspen Grove Mall on Santa Fe the second Saturday of the month, May through October. It is a local gem. In my opinion it is one of the best flea markets in the city, offering discerning shoppers an array of antiques, an interesting selection of shabby chic items and new baubles such as jewelry, clothes and accessories.
- Ah, thrift stores. When the winds of winter discourage most fair-weather thrifters, this Colorado gal prepares for a good shopping spree at the local thrift stores. Hours of season-less shopping pleasure hide within the corridors of these efficient businesses offering a profusion of home goods, trendy fashions, regular store hours and hefty sales.
I’m often asked what my favorite thrift stores are. I love them all. I know, it sounds like a reach, but each has its own flavor and set of rules. In order to “work” a thrift store effectively, consumers should pay attention to location (Stores located in high-end neighborhoods often carry better merchandise.), store hours and sale days. Some thrift venues, such as Goodwill, are now developing “boutique” stores that will exclusively carry designer and high-end décor.
My fondness for thrift stores, especially during the winter months, is that they are open year-around, offer organized displays, regular store hours and frequent sales. Imagine the savings when buying resale on sale!
- Estate sales are designed to sell the contents of a family’s estate held within the inhabitant’s home for a two to four day period. Whether a modest abode or a palatial residence, these affairs offer a wealth of merchandise tagged by professional resellers hired by the occupant’s family. These experts appraise inventory with a keen eye and set prices accordingly, and typically consider offers on the last day of the sale.
These events are efficiently advertised and well attended, so shop on the first day to get the best merchandise and the last day for the deals … when bantering and bargaining is expected.
There are twelve chief estate sale companies that hold events in the greater Denver area. A weekly list of their proceedings, addresses and pictures can be found by going to www.EstateSales.net.
- Consignment stores operate on agreements that pair the selling efforts of a store owner (consignee) with the merchandise offered by a seller (consignor). The agent is responsible for displaying and selling the goods for the persons owning items they wish to sell. Once a sale is made, a portion of the proceeds is paid to the consignor.
These upscale shops range from pleasant to opulent and offer an array of beautifully merchandised fashions or household décor perfect for the discerning secondhand shopper.
I have yet to locate a national website that effectively registers all the shops in a given area, but I find many unique listings come up when I Google, Where are the best consignment shops in Denver?
Here is a list of my favorite consignment haunts:
- Antiques – Ski Country Antiques in Evergreen, Colorado, at exit 248 (Beaver Brook/ Floyd Hill). www.SkiCountry.com
- Designer clothing – Haute Couture, 600 Downing Street, Denver, Colorado 80218
- Our nation is blanketed with trendy antique stores and mini-malls. Some of my most beloved crystal and decorative boxes come from the halls of these collective establishments, and are, without dispute, the sanctuary for antique, vintage and retro finds. But shoppers beware; merchandise varies greatly. One store may boast a profusion of dusty kegs, like and tarnished vintage wares while another unfolds rooms of fabulous European treasures displayed against rich tapestries. Jenny’s Junk Emporium at 6625 W Mississippi Ave, in Lakewood, Colorado boasts both. A potpourri of finds enthralls the most discerning shopper displaying items from trendy home décor to mechanical antiques and collectibles such as model steam engines, model trains, typewriters and sewing machines.
- Auctions can be intimidating… at least, for first-time adventurers. These fast-moving events boast a broad range of experiences, from the sale of farm and livestock to the primly proper atmosphere of a Christie’s Auction House. Typically, a fee is paid giving buyers the right to bid on the items put on the auction block. A viewing of the inventory is frequently offered the day before the sale; however, the order in which items are put up varies from auction to auction. Patience is required at these events as it may be hours before a wanted item is up for bid. However, at the end of the day, when the throngs have fled, amazing bargains can be realized for those who have lingered until the bitter-sweet finish.
One of the most prolific auction houses in the greater Denver area is Corbett’s Auction House, Estate Sales & Liquidation located at 4921 S Santa Fe Dr, Littleton, CO 80120 offer their customers a full-service solutions liquidation, estate sale and auction needs.
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- Historically, most valuable treasures, purchased for pennies on the dollar, have been found at garage sales. According to www.AllThingsMundane.com, a painting used to cover a hole in a wall was eventually bought by a museum for $1.2 million, a baseball card put on eBay for $10.00 sold for $75,000 and 65 Ansell Adams photographic negatives, found at a garage sale and stored under a table for 10 years, was eventually sold for $ 200,000,000.
- Shop garage sales as soon as they open. Ads placed in www.gsalr.com post the hours of the sale and may find that they warn, “NO early-birds.” However, you can bet the professionals will be waiting in the driveway right along with you. My suggestion is to arrive 30 minutes early at the sales that post specific items you are looking for. Be friendly and courteous and always ask if you might shop early.
- Shop estate sales late to negotiate the best prices. Because these sales are run by professionals, hired by an estate, they are hesitant to negotiate before the last day. However, the situation changes when they are faced with storing or unloading all the items that haven’t moved. The last hour of the last day is the perfect time to get in low-ball offers. I used this technique with a hutch that now sits in my dining room. Not only did I get an amazing deal, but I had it delivered free of charge to boot!.
- Competition at thrift venues is keen…be decisive in selecting and purchasing. If you are uncertain about an item…pick it up as possession is ten-tenths of the law. When I first started thrifting I passed up items that I wanted to think about only to see them in the arms of another shopper minutes later.
I’m all grown up. And, I think I have a pretty good handle on who I am. After all, I’ve spent years assessing and reassessing my actions … my directions … my choices. Along the way, I’ve thrown out the bad and kept the good. At least I’ve tried to. But, some things just seem to stick and I’m unable to shake that old feeling or experience. That’s when I realize that, despite my efforts, I’m still a slave to my past.
One event, in particular, still haunts me. It has shadows my life in many ways … most often in the still of the night. It invades my dreams and even sneaks into my days whenever I watch a parade or attend a celebratory event or even view a lovely prom dress in a store window. It’s still there; 20 years later … 40 years later. Hell, almost 50 years later I still think about “it.” Funny how one event can define one’s life. Quietly, secretly, it imbeds itself into the very core of one’s psyche and festers there like an unattended wound.
Years ago, I was elected Homecoming Queen of my school. As Dickens once said, “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times…
At seventeen “the event” became the central focus my life. It defined me. I didn’t know how to handle such a coveted award. Its announcement was met with immeasurable joy. As Sally Fields naively said in her Academy Award acceptance speech, “You like me … you really like me!”
Yet, I felt awkward. Uncertain. I was humbled, but, still imprisoned in those self-conscious teen years, I had no idea how to be humble. Graciousness was not part of my social repertoire. I was self-conscious. Hyper-vigilant. I assessed every action, every reaction. I even became paranoid. What were the girls saying behind my back? Did the boys like me better?
Then there was the dress … the pièce de résistance … a symbol of the most outstanding, notable time of my life; the dress that was to symbolize my short reign. I envisioned myself as a Cinderella walking into her ball.
And finally, the highly anticipated shopping excursion arrived.
My mother took me to a secondhand store. A thrift store. A place where only poor people shopped. I was devastated. This was my moment?
I riled against the chances of finding my gown in some seedy, back-alley shop. Where was my fairy Godmother? What would people think if they knew?
After much agony and rejection, we selected a gown. I took it home. It wasn’t wrapped in tissue with a gold sticker holding the crisp papers together, nor was it enclosed in a pretty colored bag with the shops name emblazoned on it. Rather, it was stuffed in a plastic bag. So unceremonious … so deflating … so sad.
I wanted to weep. But, I couldn’t. I wouldn’t. I would never let my mother, who was doing the best she could to feed, clothe and house four children, see my distress … my shame.
I get it now. I understand why I had to travel down that thrifty road. I get that I had to get over myself. I now understand the wisdom in shopping secondhand. Today I am the “Thrift Diva”. All that I own is secondhand. And, I am proud of it. I am satisfied with smart purchases. I am proud of recycling …everything. I even like the thrill of the hunt. I relish unpacking my thrift hauls. And, yes, my purchases are still unceremoniously wrapped and stuffed into plastic bags.
But thrift has changed from the days of back-alley establishments. Thrift and consignment proudly claim their right to be on Main Street. Towns are sprinkled with thrift super-stores, mom and pop enterprises, posh antique malls and elegant consignment boutiques.
And, me? Well, I still feel the sting of those long ago moments. But, I am a different person. I’m comfortable with me. As I wander through my beautifully decorated home, run a hand over my array of fun jewelry or slip into a designer jacket I’ve paid pennies for…well, I feel like that fabled Cinderella that I longed to be … so many years ago.
I am the queen of the unwanted; a collector of “orphans.” The truth is … I simply love to thrift! Over the years I’ve embraced the flawed, snatched up rejects others snootily passed over, delighted in the blemished and greedily coveted any object that is defined or distinctive.
Like metal to magnets, garage sales, consignment shops and thrift stores continue to lure me into their murky depths. And, on any given day I can be found contentedly combing through the shelves and musty boxes within each hallowed hall of frugality.
Spotting décor that is unique or unusual is not only my delight, but has become my specialty …my signature talent. Dramatic objects that ooze style or demanded attention make me blubber with affection. I’ve learned to ignore defects and concentrate on simply spotting the potential within each item. And, to my everlasting amazement, I even relish fixing broken legs, repairing antique frames or mending holes in tattered throws.
Discovering that a peeling piece of furniture can be transformed with a brisk sanding or a new color is next to decadent. Oil stains have become my best buddies allowing me to renew battered furnishings with a swipe of a color-stained cloth. I’ve learned what products take off rust, what spray transforms mirrors into bright reflectors, and what oils thirsty furnishings crave.
When considering a piece worthy of purchase, I ask myself, “What can I do with this interesting piece? How would it look in a different color? What would it cost to repair?”
In the final analysis, I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I am a hopeless thrift-aholic. I’ve even perfected the art of forgiving myself for repeatedly falling in love with the latest trashy temptress. Despite my flawed journey, I’ve learned how to live fabulously … yet frugally. And, I’ve turned my frumpy house into a fabulous home.
Barb Tobias is a professional speaker and inspiring coach who renovates lives, homes and wardrobes by sticking her curious little nose into other people’s “thrifty business.” After a lifetime of transforming trash into treasure, this savvy mistress of thrift shares her secrets to finding deals, repurposing before tossing, reconstructing the tattered and renewing things others view as passé in her recent release…Tossed & Found; Where Frugal is Chic. Her “tell all” book is not simply a journey of personal transformation, but teaches a newly frugal nation how to purchase, purge and profit from thrift.
Barb Tobias created another fabulous wardrobe without breaking the bank…
What do Barb Tobias (The “Thrift Talk” Diva), Tori Spelling and Carol Burnett have in common?
I was stunned to learn, after reading numerous reports on People.com, Omg.com, and Thefrisky.com, that real celebrities were raising serious money through holding all types of sales; garage sales, tag sales, yard sales, porch sales, divorce sales, downsizing sales, moving sales…and are now moving into the corridors of high-rise apartment buildings where city dwellers are holding “lobby sales”. And, here I thought that this Thrift Talking Diva had the corner on making good money at my fancy Diva Sales.
Yikes! Little did I know that I was going up against the likes of Tori Spelling, Scott Baio, Teri Hatcher, and Pamela Anderson. I’d been snookered and outclassed. And, I would have to imagine that my stuff was probably pretty paltry in comparison to their stuff.
Sure, I’ve yakked for years about the benefits of holding tag sales and purging homes of unwanted and unloved things. And, I’m still a strong advocate for the yearly cleanse (because it’s the only cleanse that’s capable of making a fast buck). But, I was still having trouble wrapping my arms around celebrities hawking their junk … like the rest of us.
I kept asking myself, “Why would outrageously wealthy superstars hold yard sales?” So, I started doing a little celebrity snooping, and, voila, Diva Detective was born. True, most stars hold sales through auction houses, but a few, such as Tori Spelling, Scott Baio, Teri Hatcher, and Pamela Anderson actually worked their own sales, albeit with professional and agent assistance. Many of them do it for charity; however, Tori actually pocketed the cash.
Star Willie Aames sold off his belongings at his suburban Kansas City home. Apparently dozens showed up while Aames bargained with treasure-hunters and even signed autographs. Hundreds of people stood in line to snap up movie memorabilia, taxidermy, antiques, artwork, furniture, and even his piano. And, the shocker…his production crews were even there to film a television documentary.
A cable network recently shot a pilot for the project, titled “Celebrity Garage Sale,” staring actress Illeana Douglas. Apparently the hook is that Douglas is on a mission to help her famous friends get rid of their unwanted junk by holding, you guessed it, a garage sale. They’ve brought in Tom Arnold to mix it up because his garage sale is said to have raised $5,000 for Camp del Corazon, a summer camp for children with heart disease.
Scott Baio’s sale raised funds as well as awareness for mandatory newborn screening in all fifty states after his daughter tested positive for GA1, a metabolic disorder. Fortunately, she is fine, after it was discovered that her results were a false positive.
Teri Hatcher raised $20,000 for her favorite charities through an invite-only, fifty-dollar entrance fee, yard sale and served Buttercream Cupcakes & Coffee to her customers!
And, Pamela Anderson was reported have sold one of her homes with all of the contents with the proceeds going to PETA.
Now here’s one that shook the fibers of my “divaness”. Supermodel Erin Wasson held a garage sale selling off pieces from her personal wardrobe … the likes of Balenciaga and YSL. Now, rumor has it that these rags sold for under $100. Where was I when all this was happening? According to Erin she was attempting to “edit down my wardrobe and be very Japanese, where you have one rolling rack…I love the idea of being super edited.” Awww…
So what’s the difference between their yard sales and mine? So okay, the autograph signings are probably a draw. I’ll give them that. And, maybe their furnishings are a tad more elegant. And then there are the gowns, and posters and the jewels. Hmmm…
For Barb Tobias of Evergreen, thrift is a lifestyle. In her book, “Tossed and Found; Where Frugal is Chic,” she asks, “How would your life look if you tossed out the tired and unwanted … and found a new you?”
Tobias writes of treasures such as a $1,000 vase for $40 and designer outfits for $50. She decorates all shapes and sizes of homes using only thrift items. And she says you can actually thrift shop your way to wealth.
Tobias gives all kinds of ideas on where to find these items — from demolition to estate to garage sales — and how to look for the “good stuff.” She also has a great list of stores and marketing ideas so you can make the most of buying and selling.
Her web site is http://thrifttalkdiva.com/
Three caveats to living the chic life on thrift: Have patience. It takes time to make the best finds. You can’t build your own cheap and chic Rome in one day. Sometimes, a store might be packed with deals, other times, you might not find a thing. Secondly, make sure to purge the old when you bring in the new. Third, keep an open mind. This classic form of recycling has stood the test of time for a reason. Snobs do not find the real treasures.
On a personal note, I absolutely hate the feeling of knowing I left behind a diamond in the rough. As long as an item isn’t too expensive for my budget or too large for me to store, I’ll pick it up to avoid that pang of regret. If I change my mind, I’ll sell or give it away as soon as possible rather than let it collect dust.
And remember, there’s no law that says you have to tell people you bought something second hand. I usually do, just because I get a kick out of getting compliments on my Goodwill shoes. But if someone says they like your new find, you can always just smile and say, “Thank you for noticing!” — wink.
By the way — end-of-season clearance at Payless Shoes right now — I found some really cute styles for the kids (and even some for me!) for $3 to $8! I even bought some school shoes and some of those cool wedges I wanted, but wasn’t ready to pay full price. The sales clerk tells me the deals are going at all Colorado stores.
Happy hunting! Don’t forget our CBS4 Deals of the Day, and please pass along your thrifty tips in the comments section! I’d love to hear from you.
– In her Brooke’s Bargains blog Brooke Wagner writes about finding bargains and saving money for her family. She calls it one of her favorite hobbies. Blog entries cover everything from the latest steals, deals, and freebies to cheap family activities, saving for college, and what to buy right now.
People often question why I continue to thrift shop … after all, I have more than everything I need. I guess it boils down to my love of the hunt. I love to scour the thrift shops and garage sales for items that can be made into something else. I enjoy creating new things out of old or used items. After all, I am a Diva and I love to change my environment … often.
I’m past worrying about whether I’ve made a purchasing mistake because I hold a Diva Sale at least once a year where I sell my “mistakes” and items I’ve simply grown tired of.
Another defining reason I shop thrift is knowing that I am saving so much money. In addition, recycling everything I own keeps my stuff out of our landfills.
On a recent “sale” shopping week I recorded my purchases and calculated the difference between what I paid during the 50% off sale, what I would have paid at normal thrift store prices and what retail would have cost me. I was astonished…
|Item||Retail||Thrift||1/2 price Sale|
|Cousances Cast Iron Vintage Blue Deep Skillet||$109.99||$ 9.99||$ 4.99|
|Cousances Cast Iron Vintage Blue Omelet Fry Pan||$ 9.99||$ 6.99||$ 3.49|
|Pfaltzgraff Gravy Boat||$ 7.99||$ 3.99||$ .99|
|Smoothie Freeze juicer||$ 29.99||$ 12.99||$ 6.49|
|CX-CD241 Portable CD with AM/FM Stereo Tuner||$ 29.99||$ 6.99||$ 3.49|
|Audio phase CD and Cassette player/2 speakers||$ 59.95||$ 24.99||$ 12.49|
|Video tape rewind component||$ 15.99||$ 3.99||$ 1.99|
|Glass Storage Jar||$ 9.99||$ 3.99||$ 1.99|
|Drawer Divider||$ 5.99||$ 1.99||$ 0.99|
|Men’s Red Handkerchief||$ 4.99||$ 0.99||$ 0.49|
|Auto Flashlight||.||$ 4.99||$ .99||$0.49|
|6 – Faux Leather placemats (Bed, Bath & Beyond||$ 35.94||$11.94||$5.94|
|Ceramic Box||$ 9.00||$ 2.99||$1.49|
|Long black scarf||$ 9.99||$ 1.99||$0.99|
|3 – Dinosaur Eggs||$ 9.99||$ 2.97||$1.47|
|2 – Decorative throw pillows||$ 32.00||$ 8.00||$4.00|
|7 – (Tag-on new) pairs underwear||$ 41.93||$ 13.93||$6.93|
|5 – Variety Cooking Utensils||$ 9.99||$ 2.45||$1.20|
|2-Books||$ 49.90||$ 6.00||$3.00|
|7 – CD’s||$ 90.30||$ 14.00||$7.00|
|Crazy Horse Ski Sweater||$ 24.99||$ 4.99||$2.49|
|2 piece silk PJ set by Cerie||$ 15.99||$ 4.99||$2.49|
|Wise World Sweatshirt||$ 32.99||$ 4.99||$2.49|
|Pair (NEW) Diane Gillman Jeans||$ 46.00||$ 8.99||$ .99|
|Pair Liz Claiborne Jeans||$ 28.99||$ 5.99||$ .99|
|Pair ETHYL Vintage Jeans||$ 32.00||$ 5.99||$ .99|
|Pair Faded Glory Black Denim jeans||$ 14.99||$ 5.99||$ .99|
Totals $824.84 $184.09 $79.17
I call this type of smart shopping “investing”! Not only am I investing in my home and wardrobe, I am making wise purchases that can be sold at my “Diva Sales” after I’m finished with them or have found something better. This way my merchandise is almost always recycled and I often recoup my investment. I have started to put the difference between what I pay thrift and what my items would have cost retail into a savings account. To hell with retirement! I am dying to take a trip; Africa is calling me, Victoria Island is my spring fantasy and Australia is beckoning me . . .