Just a Little Love Affair with Thrift

August 18, 2011 by  
Filed under Blogs

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.

Come on … Celebrities Holding Garage Sales?

July 18, 2011 by  
Filed under Blogs, Garage Sales

What do Barb Tobias (The “Thrift Talk” Diva), Tori Spelling and Carol Burnett have in common?

We all have yard sales!  Yes, it is true.  Six degrees of separation be damned!  I’m in good stead.

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…

Grouping Collections

December 16, 2009 by  
Filed under Blogs, Decorating

collection1Collections are more effectively displayed when grouped together and artfully arranged.  These assortments of loved items can be displayed as the main focus of a room or tucked away and arranged in small, unusable spaces to create interest.

  • In this picture a collection of pigs sleep continently in the window nook of a sunny kitchen, adding the owner’s lively humor to her home décor.
  • Classic car prints, purchased at a garage sale in Michigan for three dollars apiece (sans frames) , capture the nostalgia of the twenties and thirties and the grandeur of the era when the automobile was king. The pictures set off a narrow area that is nestled behind a banister and previously only displayed the unsightly wall switches.

collection2

  • Collections can even be a mismatched assortment of items in varying hues of a favored color.  On this coffee table a collection of items use different shades of green as their common denominator.

collection3

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

Create Interest When Decorating by Mixing It Up!

November 18, 2009 by  
Filed under Decorating

Decorating Tips-fWhen furniture and décor are mixed and matched, it expresses the individuality and creativity of the homeowner.  The object of decorating on a budget is to create an overall effect.  Flaws and mars and mars on furniture and decor can be interesting and typically overlooked by those viewing a room in its entirety.  

Not only is an eclectic look fun but it also perfect for people who love to thrift.   I mix antique with contemporary and expensive with cheap. The overall look is trendy and interesting . . . and my home, over time, has cost me nothing to decorate.

 In this arrangement see if you can pick out the most expensive piece of pottery and which ones I actually picked up at thrift stores and flea markets for under ten dollars.

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The black piece in the foreground is actually a lovely piece of Santa Anna pottery that I purchased in Santa Fe, NM as a birthday gift for my husband.  The Zebra stripped urn was eight dollars, the pitcher to its left was four dollars, the southwest urn behind that was seven dollars and the large art deco vase to the right was twelve dollars.

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