I Love Bargain Hunting at Thrift Stores and Garage Sales

Below is an email that I received from a very excited client. We are working to transform her somewhat worn home into a chic and stylish habitat.

Just last garage sale season, Jo learned how to shop using a newly frugal but creative eye. She quickly learned to spot the potential treasures beneath the tarnish. Prepare Jo Garage Sale

After holding a garage sale of her own, we spent a few fun and productive weekends looking for bargain furnishings to replace the items we literally hauled out of her house and sold on the spot.   Remember the old addage; One woman’s junk is another woman’s treasure? (Okay, so it is close enough.)

Jo was very hesitant at the beginning of our project.  She was skeptical of finding quality items at local thrift venues.  Now, she is an ardent believer and often ventures out on her own to find her bargains. She has learned that imagination and resourcefulness are key factors in finding the right deals.

Hi Barb,

I just made the best buy of the day… a love seat – FREE, courtesy of Aurora Library. I was actually looking at all their $1 books because the library is closing for good.

I found a free bookcase and had just taken it to my car when I walked back in to find that they had just pull a love seat from the back room and pushed it onto the sale floor.

I was the first to look at it, then another lady started pushing it around and inspecting it.  Since I had already made my decision to buy it, the sales person let me have it. Can you believe that?

I felt like  I just gave myself a big ole’ Christmas present. I can’t even tell you how great my family room feels to me – it’s beginning to feel more like home every time I add something.

Oh, and I picked up a fabulous lamp Goodwill for $24 with my Senior Citizen’s discount!  Ha, ha! My family room is so cozy and the lighting is great now. I love it.

I can’t believe that I’m so looking forward to next garage sale season!  I would have never thought I would be such an ardent convert!  This is fun and it is not costing me any more money because I am using the funds that I made when we held my garage sale.

Thank you so much . . . and, Happy New Year!
To your success,
Jo Guerra

Denver Entrepreneurs LinkedIn Group

What is Divawear?

Filed under Blogs, Fashion

What is Divawear?

Divawear is clothing that makes you feel wonderful, special.  It carries a certain flourish, a unique style. It is about combining styles and creating your own special image; a personal and unique signature.  Most people don’t think about the fact that they are, indeed, telegraphing to everyone they meet who they are and what they think of themselves.

And, Divawear is fun!  The great news for women is that we aren’t relegated to being monochromatic. We don’t have to dress in suits in varying shades black, grey or blue.  We are peacocks!  Celebrate it!  Live it!  Choose it!

I have been shopping with my girlfriends countless times.  Invariably they will pull something off a rack, hold it up, and with complete conviction say, “Barb, this is so you.”  What they are saying is that I have created my signature look, a style that represents me; my attitude and significance .

The gang - western party 117 copy (2)

My Michigan Divafriends are glorious. . . they are very Diva, and have the zest for life that is magnetic.

The night before my wedding we decked ourselves out in our best Diva westernwear.  Needless to say, they even outshined the bride.

This group of gals are spirited, talented and have hung together through twenty years of marriage, divorce, business startups and business failures…all of which cemented our friendships and fortified our personal mettle.

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And, Divawear doesn’t have to cost a fortune.  I was shopping at my favorite DAV store on a recent 99 cent day and ran across this fabulous 50’s coat.  I snatched that baby up in a hurry, and just in time for the holidays.  My husband took a picture of me before we went out.  Hmmm….so glam.

My personal dress message announces, “I am wonderful. Come hang with me. Get to know me.  I am fun. I am playful. I am successful. I am a Diva.

Consignment and Antique Shops vs. Thrift Shops

Despite raving fans on both sides of the frugal fence, the popularity of thrift shopping, or thrifting as it is referred to by frugal aficionados, is soaring.  With the downturn of the economy, shopping for used items has become the new black. Yes, it is in vogue . . . even chic.  It is also undeniably green.  No more trees cut down, sheep sheared, or plastic is manufactured. In addition, the concern over sweatshop employment has little to no justification when shopping for bargains in the thrifty aisles of this nation’s secondhand establishments.

consignmentUsed treasures, despite where they are merchandised, fall under the general category known as thrift. However the shops that carry these secondhand goods are as diverse as they are numerous.

The adventurous throngs that shop for recycled bargains are divided into two categories; thrift store aficionados and the more discerning consignment and antique devotees. Bona fide consignment or antique buffs seldom venture into thrift shops and have little inclination to sift through stacks of secondhand effects to find their holy grails.  By the same token, thrift shop groupies loathe the thought of paying the historically higher prices demanded at the more trendy consignment or antique shops.consignment2

The difference between these two thrift venues typically lie in the quality of merchandise found in each establishment. Both consignment shops and antique stores demand higher prices but their goods are generally superior in quality and their stores are typically merchandised beautifully.




Picture compliments of www.FunFindsAndDesigns.com

Eight Divalicious Tips That Will Turn You Into a Garage Sale Maniac

I never attended a garage sale until I began my secondary career as a thrift diva. But once I got started, I realized that they are one of the best ways to find bargain pricing on just about anything you need – as long as you aren’t in a hurry to find it!

That’s right.  No other source, not even Goodwill, the Salvation Army or your favorite  flea market sells stuff as cheap as people who are purging, cleaning out closets,  moving or settling an estate. Which is why garage sales are always on my “hot list.”

Granted, if you’re shopping for a specific item, you may not find it on any given day no matter how many garage sales you hit. But, then again, even if you don’t find what you came for, chances are you’ll find something else you can use at a price that’s negligible – sometimes even free!

Beyond that, garage sales are a blessing for those with babies and small children. Why?  You can stop the constant “baby needs it” cash outflow by letting other people’s kids be a steady supply of new-to-your kids toys and clothing.

Here are eight of my best tips and tricks for garage sale success:

1. Timing Matters.

  • Most garage sales occur on the weekend starting on Friday, as early as 8:00 a.m., and run through Saturday or Sunday.  (Although not as many are held on Sundays.)
  • Early birds have been known to show up an hour and a half early (yes, at 6:30) so if your heart is set on an advertised item, plan to arrive early. However, be courteous. If the sale is not open, wait in your car.  Don’t knock on the door at 6:00 in the morning.  (The sellers may have been up until 3:00 a.m.)
  • When shopping garage sales go on the first day.  The good things will go first and prices can still be suprisingly low.  
  • Estate sales are often houses full of items.  Since the merchandise is usually better quality, it will also be more expensive.  You will find better bargains if you wait until the end of the last day.

2. Shop late and bargain to save money.

  • Most of the time, the better deals are found at the end of the sale when sellers are faced with the prospect of hauling their stuff back inside or to the thrift store drop-off center. 
  • Bargain harder at the end of the day when there is less opportunity for the seller to get asking price.   
  • Basically prices are always negotiable at garage sales. You may not get it, but it never hurts to ask.
  • Buy multiple items to get a “bulk” rate. 
  • Early in my thrifting “career”  I snagged a sterling silver butter dish for $5. Strangely enough,  many sellers do not price items, seem indifferent to how much money they make, and will essentially let you name your price even early on in the sale — so aim low.

3. Plan your route to save time and gasoline.

  • Pick one promising sale to visit first, and plan the rest of your stops to flow out from your first stop.
  • Shop at Subdivision Sales.  Homeowners band together to offer house-to-house sales all on the same day. What a boon!
  • Look up sales online in advance, but be aware that many people only advertise garage sales via signs posted around the neighborhood and on major streets the morning of the sale. So anticipate that whatever the route you’ve planned – you’ll likely end up with a lot of small detours.
  • In the height of the garage sale season, plan to visit only one general area each week. Driving ten miles out of your way for one sale that may or may not be any good isn’t a productive use of your time or gas money.

4. Choose your neighborhoods wisely.

  • For the discerning shopper, patronize the upscale neighborhoods.  Yes, they might be a little pricy, but that is where the nicer things are found.
  • A good rule of thumb is to haunt the middle class neighborhoods. They typically offer the best ratio of good stuff to good prices.

5. Choose your sales wisely.

  • Moving Sales are the best places to get deals because people are limited by time deadline and how much they can move.
  • Estate sales are best for higher end items, but you’ll pay higher prices as well.
  • Ordinary garage sales are a crapshoot.
    • Cruise the Internet and pick out the best ones by reading the ads on Craigslist, although I’ve found that you never know until you get there and take a look. 
    • To save time, simply cruise by uninteresting looking sales.  You might miss some good things hidden in boxes, but at the height of the season, there are so many sales and limited time. 
    • If you’re looking for a specific item, like an antique dresser, you can try emailing and calling all the people who have actually posted ads in advance and seeing if anyone is selling that item. If so, they might be willing to set it aside for you until a certain time (say, 8:30 for a garage sale that starts at 8:00).

6. Plan ahead so that you don’t waste your money.

  • Set a budget before you head out the door.
  • Avoid buying things just because they are a great deal.
  • Be honest with your time and talents. For example, unless you love to refinish furniture, you’re unlikely to suddenly take up the hobby and that shabby chic chair will be collecting dust in your garage for quite a while. 
  • For sales with unpriced items, make sure to ask about prices before you let yourself get attached to things. 

7. Shop with a friend.

  • Be careful not to compete with them for every thing you find . . . you just may loose a friend.  Rather, consider someone with strengths you lack.
  • If you aren’t good at bartering . . . bring someone who is.
  • Bring someone who knows more about an area (furniture, glassware, jewelry) than you do. 
  • If you drive a small car, enlist a friend that drives a pickup truck!

8. Loose the great expectations mentality

  • There will be days when you don’t find anything you like or can afford.
  • You are under no obligation to stay any length of time at a sale.  There are too many out there to waste time at a sale that has nothing to offer you.

And now, let the garage sale fun begin!!

Why Thrift?

With the downturn in the economy, thrifting has become the new American pastime allowing you to incorporate cheap but chic decor and fashion into your life. Across America hundreds of thousands of treasure seekers attend garage sales, yard sales, rummage sales, flea markets and estate sales to pick through other people’s stuff to find BARGAINS. This grass roots phenomenon has been compared to the modern– day gold rush as evidenced by the ever so popular Antique Road Show.

Personal Benefits

  • You save money: buying reusable, quality products is less expensive
  • You conserve natural resources: decreasing energy and raw material consumption helps the planet
  • You eliminate waste: sensible consumption frees up natural resources for other worthwhile purposes
  • You help others recycled clothing and household items are also sent to developing countries
  • Customers also benefit by getting access to quality used goods at a great value.
  • The poor and indigent benefit from food and shelter

Community Benefits

  • Customers also benefit by getting access to quality used goods at a great value.
  • The poor and indigent benefit from food and shelter

Worldwide Benefits

  • Individuals in developing countries around the world can now create their own marketplaces in which to conduct commerce.
  • As a result, other individuals in these countries have a resource where they can find used, affordable merchandise.

To The Planet

  • We’re doing our part to save our planet from the 20-billion pounds of used clothing and textiles tossed into landfills each year.
  • One thrift store chain (Savers) and its recycling program alone prevented 280 million pounds of unsold merchandise from ending up in landfills last year by reselling to domestic and international people in need.
  • Can you believe that the average North American throws away 67.9 pounds of used clothing and rags into the garbage? This results in over twenty billion pounds (or more than 9.09 billion kilograms) of used clothing and textiles tossed into landfills each year. When you donate to or shop at thrift store, increase the re-use of goods and help the environment. So says Don Ruehs Start you own High Profit Thrift Store http://startthriftstore.com/index.html

Thrifty Tips from the Yardsale Queen

This is a guest-post from Chris Heiska, The Yardsale Queen.

Some people believe the myth that there’s only junk at yardsales and thrift stores. That is absolutely not true. Buying at yardsales doesn’t necessarily mean that you are buying someone’s used, dirty castoffs. I often find Christmas wrapping paper still attached to the box,
or a wedding card tucked inside of a box that was probably a duplicate wedding gift (and now the present that probably cost $40 in the store is selling for $5 at a yardsale).

The nicer stuff does get snapped up quickly, so persistence is the key. I often stop by the thrift store in my town two or more times a week to see what “new” stuff has come in. Often the cashier says to me, “Oh, we just put this out today.”

I can’t say specifically that shopping at yardsales and thrift stores is totally responsible for us living a debt-free life, but I know it has definitely helped. (Our mortgage was paid off in April 2000.) For instance, I’m not spending $99 for a metal two-drawer filing cabinet at Staples and putting it on a credit card; instead, I bought a similar one for $4 at thrift store. I don’t have high credit card bills since if I know I need something, I just wait until I can find it cheap at a yardsale.

Shopping at yardsales has enhanced our lifestyle — our money goes a lot further than buying retail. My son is enjoying playing in a $50 camping tent from Target that we have set up in the backyard. I paid $5 (still new in the box) at a yardsale a few years back.

Here are a few tips when shopping at yardsales:

  • Be sure to look over stuff carefully since things are generally sold “as-is”.
  • It’s easier to shop when I am not lugging my huge heavy handbag around so I wear a fanny pack. It keeps my hands free to look over items and carry stuff.
  • If you are buying something in a box, make sure its what it says it is. My friend was disappointed when he bought a printer at a yardsale and opened the box at home to find the seller’s old printer in the box, not the one pictured on the box.
  • Carry lots of change and small bills — much quicker to pay for something with exact change than waiting for the seller to make change.
  • When buying electronics, ask to plug it in to test it.
  • When buying a big item (like a desk or set of drawers), if you have to come back later with a truck to pick it up, take a piece with you — like a single drawer. That way the seller won’t be tempted to sell it to someone else who comes by later and offers more money.
  • Clothes can be a real bargain at yardsales. The downfall is that you can’t try them on to see if they fit. Sometimes thrift stores have dressing rooms. Make sure all the buttons are there and the zipper zips. I also check the label for cleaning instructions (if it says Dry Clean Only, I tend to stay away since I want wash ‘n’ wear clothing). I also try to plan ahead for any special event clothing we may need. When I saw a classic conservative black dress ($5) that could be used for funerals or weddings (multipurpose!) I bought it since I knew it would come in handy.
  • When buying CDs, VHS, or DVDs, check to make sure the right item is in the right case. Check the backs of DVDs and Cds for excessive scratches.
  • If toys are electronics aren’t working, check the battery compartment to see if they have corroded batteries inside. I keep a multi-purpose tool in my fanny pack with a screwdriver to check.
  • Look toys over carefully before giving to your child. I found nails and thumbtacks thrown in a canister of TinkerToys. For baby items, you can usually call the manufacturer’s toll-free number to find out if an item has been recalled. The safety belt on my child’s baby swing (that I bought at a yardsale) had been recalled and they sent me a replacement safety belt.
  • In general, I would stay away from buying a used baby carseat at a yardsale or thrift unless of course I personally knew and trusted the seller.
  • If you buy glassware, gently run your fingers of the edges. Sometimes your fingers can catch imperfections easier than your eyes.

Note that not every thrift store is created equal — some are run by volunteers and others are run for profit by storeowners. To find some non-profit thrift stores in your area (or to check some out while on vacation), visit thethriftshopper.com.

And when you do decide to check out your local thrift stores, flea markets and yardsales, you never know who you may run into. Celebrities who have been seen buying secondhand include Kirstie Alley, Jodie Foster, Clint Eastwood and even Oprah to name a few. If buying secondhand is good enough for them, it’s good enough for me!


This is just the tip of the iceberg. Visit Chris at The Yardsale Queen for more ideas on how to save money at garage sales and thrift stores.

The Secret Contents of a Diva Tool Box

I love tools. I’m talking hammers, wrenches and power tools.  I even created my very own trusty chick tool box that rides with me in my car.  Most of the tools are smaller, because there is no heavy lugging for this Diva.

And, yes, I do hunt for my tools at garage sales, flea markets and thrift shops.  When every other woman is looking at the chic cocktail dresses, I’m checking out the tools, the workbench and the hand-held power saw.  Hey, whatever works! 

My tool kit is stationed in my home and ready to throw into my car at a moments notice. I also find tools that are small and compact and easy to use.  I’m not a carpenter, but I’m handy (or I’ve become handy) and I only use tools that fit my size. 

Secret Contents of the Diva Tool Box

  • Small Hammer
  • Interchangeable tipped screwdriver
  •  Picture hanging kit
  • Assortment of Screws & nails
  • Stud finder (Guess I was looking for a Stud in all the wrong places!)
  • Nail file and polish repair (oops)
  • Tape measure
  • Pliers
  • Level
  • Handheld electric screwdriver
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Paint brushes-3 size
  • Small bottle of Turpentine
  • Carpenters pencil
  • Razor scrapper and razor blades
  • Stapler
  • Assortment of Tapes

The Diva Restoration Kit for Thrift Shoppers

Bringing out the beauty in the neglected but cheap treasures that I’ve found at some flea market or garage sale took a little creativity and some doctoring from my Diva Restoration Kit. Over time I have found most of these things from the very garage sales  and thrift stores that I frequent. 

It has taken me a while to find out which products work best and how and when to use them.

Here is a time saving list of my restoration essentials:

  • Old English oil stain (scratch remover) the most wonderful concoction ever!
  • Rags and paper towel
  • Permanent markers – all colors including gold, bronze and silver
  • String/tape
  • Glue remover – For those yucky price tags
  • White glue/ wood glue – for repairing ceramic or wood items
  • Pen and paper pad
  • Artist brushes
  • Sand Paper
  • Wood stain
  • Batteries
  • Light bulbs
  • Q-tips
  • Felt squares, double stick squares
  • Needle & thread
  • Paint sticks – these are great for fill-ins and come in a variety of colors
  • Magnifying glass
  • Glass cleaner/paper towels
  • Furniture polish

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