Barb Tobias is a fabulous columnist for The Denver Post. Check in monthly for a link to Barb’s Column, called…Thrift Talk Diva.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Best 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.
The idea behind my book, Tossed & Found, came as direct result of a sliding economy and corporate cut backs. After managing a sales team in the Midwest and Western United States for years, my team and I suddenly found ourselves … jobless. With few options available in an market spiraling out of control, I knew I had to reinvent myself – again. The inspiration for writing a thrift memoire came during my regrouping stage. I visualized a book that not only talked about my tumultuous life, but also showcased the shift to thrift that was occurring across our nation.
What was the hardest part about completing your book?
Two thing actually; learning all the parts to the entire process; from writing the book to getting it published. And, and the edits … the seemingly endless edits.
Well, there’s actually a third item I had difficulty with … letting go! After countless edits, I learned that my book would never be perfect; there would always be mistakes or a better way of saying something … a sentence or paragraph that could be written differently. And, there would continue to be a lurking temptation to do another rewrite – or two. At some point an author needs to let it go – give birth – push it out into the world.
Did you learn any lessons in the book creation process, if so what where they?
Having been a first-time author, I learned many, many lessons, the most important of which … staying on task, committing to writing every day, surrounding oneself with mentors, becoming a storyteller, and showing the reader versus telling the reader.
Did you enlist support in getting your book done?
Yes I did. Right out of the shoot I hired a coach. Although he was supportive and directive with my goals I quickly realized I needed to enlist the help of coaches that lived and breathed writing and publishing. I regrouped and hired a book coaching team the literally took my book from limp to alive!
What tips or advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Authorship is a lonely and complex process. However, a fledgling author does not have to attempt the process alone. There is an abundance of writers groups and a wealth of seminars and publishing gurus that can help writers sift through the glut of information and options.
If you self-published, what made you self-publish?
Launching my speaking career determined that I self-published. My book was my calling-card, so to speak. After dipping my toes into the publishing arena, I realized that traditional publishing would take me many more months to get my book out than I was willing to sacrifice. Additionally, I felt that it was judicious to retain all the rights to my creation.
If you had to do your book all over again, would you?
Writing Tossed & Found was a wondrous adventure; it was cathartic, revitalizing, wearisome, creative, exasperating, nerve-wracking, euphoric, tedious, liberating, frustrating and inspiring. And yes, I would so do it again … to feel the euphoria of holding my creation in my hand for the first time, the delight in doing a reading to that first audience, and the appreciation expressed by those inspired to reinvent their lives or lifestyles.
Are you writing or planning to write an additional book(s)?
Yes, I have a Diva sequel planned; Decorating like a Diva … On the Cheap.
But, there is another book begging to be published. I was a dog trainer for 20 years. I envision a book of dog stories; true-life adventures of the many dogs and situations I’ve stumbled upon during my tenure with dogs … from antics on fashion runways to heroic deeds of brave dogs and their owners.
What else would you like to share about you or your book?
The title Tossed & Found is really a double entandre. My book chronicles the journey of trash to treasure, contrasting those that toss things out versus those that find unloved items and turn them into beautiful furnishings or fabulous wardrobes.
And, it is also about my life … my journey. I believe my path parallels the journey of many people that find themselves tossed out of relationships, jobs or life. I also suppose that life throws us curve balls to teach us great lessons. So, it’s not whether we get tossed around, living a meaningful life is about what we do when it happens … whether we find ourselves again.
How can people find out more about your book?
Tossed & Found is available at local bookstores, on Amazon or by visiting www.ThriftTalkDiva.com.
Barb Tobias, America’s “Thrift Talk” Diva, is an author, speaker, coach and the entertaining mistress of thrift. This radio and TV personality renovates lives, homes and wardrobes by sticking her curious little nose into other people’s “thrifty business.” After a lifetime of turning trash into treasure, Barb shares her secrets for finding deals, repurposing before tossing and reconstructing the tattered in her new release, Tossed & Found. Her “tell all” book is not only a journey of personal transformation, but teaches a newly frugal nation how to purchase, purge and profit from thrift.
Having lived in Colorado for five years, I’ve (regrettably) explored far too few vistas that pepper this amazing state. When I received a call from Kathleen, Diva extraordinaire, offering a chance to do a girl’s trip to the Western Slopes, I jumped at the chance. I looked forward the experience—Colorado wine country—in the fall.
It was early morning when the car arrived at my mountain home. Hastily shoving my bags on top and around the existing luggage, I hopped into the car giddy with anticipation. With camera in hand and a good supply of munchies close by, we headed west.
I hadn’t met Susan, one of the threesome, and was delighted to get to know this feisty little sprite as we maneuvered out of the foothills and into the mountains.
Driving through the glorious weather that marks Colorado autumns, I had an inkling that this was going to be another trip to register in the Diva Chronicles.
Crossing the state was awe inspiring … an incredible unfolding of changing topography and color; from the evergreen foothills to the arid majesty of the western slopes sprinkled with nostalgic mining towns and old abandoned homesteads.
We drove leisurely, with no set plan and stopping as often as we wished to snap pictures of the ever changing topography.
Ok, so here’s Susan getting creative shots while doing her version of the refrigerator repairwoman thingy … only you have to admit, she’s much cuter.
Whenever we parked the car to view a particularly lovely vista, it seemed reasonable that we should also take time to stretch and restore ourselves. We would open the trunk; pull out our spare munchies and partake in chunks of creamy, warm cheese and a robust glass of local wine. (Of course, we repeatedly congratulated ourselves on having the foresight to pack these travel necessities.)
As we crossed the continental divide the sun was setting softly behind the lofty peaks that sheltered Colorado’s wineries. Although we were getting a bit travel weary, we decided to take a quick detour and head for the wine tasting houses before they closed. Since Susan was not one to imbibe in any form of bubbly brew, we basked in the good fortune of having our own designated driver.
Our first stop was at Carlson Vineyards in Palisade, CO. (Visit them at www.CarlsonVinyards.com). Once nestled into their lovely mountain tasting retreat we were happily introduced to their decadent cherry dessert wine lavishly rimmed with … CHOCOLATE. Delightful, Decadent and soooo Diva!
As for those wine snobs or skeptics (as you prefer), the hills and valleys of Colorado’s western slopes have the perfect climate for growing grapes. They routinely make countless award winning wines, giving some stiff competition to that little wine producing state on the other side of the Rockies.
We closed out day at the Whitewater Hill Vineyards which produce luscious varietal wines at the quaint winery which overlooks the broad vista of the Grand Valley bordering the Colorado River. We really enjoyed kabitzing with the owners. You can visit this lovely winery at WhitewaterHill.com.
During the day …
We played tourist …
Continued sightseeing …
Power thrift shopped … ate more chocolate…
And threw in just a tad bit of R & R.
As each day gently unfolded we stood, each in our own separate peace, inspired by the majesty of this land we call home.
Our adventures soon drew to a close. On the last day as the sun settled behind the peaks, we came upon this incredible scene. Although I always loved the words to America the Beautiful, I never realize how incredibly perfect they were. The verses played over and over as we viewed the majesty of this country.
At every bend, stunning canyon and mountain peak we visually celebrated the magnificence of this nation.
O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
One Tuesday night, Barb Tobias taught a Colorado Free University Class, Smart Women Decorate with Thrift, and students s learned and shared their experiences in the wacky world of thrift.
We created Vision Boards on decorating. Unlike the standard Life Vision Board, the decorating version uncovers our affinity for colors, textures, elements and styles. It is amazing how each board morphs into a profile that not only reveals our personalities but expresses our passions.
Students learned a bit about themselves, and learned how to surround themselves with décor that reverberates with their creative ideals.
- And, they learned the art of RE:
- To REpurpose rather than toss.
- To REfinish rather than pitch.
- To REnew rather than to throw out.
- To REvitalize rather than to chuck it.
And, if all else fails, and they would just as soon get rid of it, they learned where to send their “ love donations.”
- Charity Centers
- Charity Drives
Q. Why do you refer to yourself as a Diva?
A. I struggled to come up with a title for myself . . . a name that would reflect my journey to the top of the proverbial pile so to speak. When considering strong, self-actualizing words for women, the English language provides few choices.
Was I going to call myself a Princess? Well, we’ve all pounded that word into the ground. And, I really didn’t want to defend my title against all the little, fluffy, cutesy dogs named Princess.
Perhaps calling myself a master of my trade would work. Naw, that term was obviously reserved for men.
Okay, so how about mistress of my trade? Well, that one is sure to make the tabloids, and not an image I wanted to portray. Plus, the word no longer carries (if it ever did) the element of accomplishment that typified someone who has walked the bumpy road to success.
A Queen? Now, there is a moniker that negates the thought of achievement brought about by hard, creative work. The term typically refers to a birthright not accomplishment.
Alas, there remained . . . the Diva. Strong, accomplished, talented. That could work. Of course, I knew that there would be those that would scoff at such a self-proclaiming title, but I would ask. What word has this culture cultivated to capture the strength, the magic, of talented, smart, resilient women?
Thus, another Diva was born . . . The Thrift Diva
Q. What exactly is Thrift?
A. Thrift or thrifting, as it is often called, is the act of purchasing secondhand items at a fraction of their original cost.
Check out my FAB 99 cent 60′s swing coat . . .
Q. Don’t most people regard the act of thrifting as a rather seedy, back-alley type of activity?
A. They used to, but times are changing. With the downturn of the economy thrift has stepped out of the closet . . . so to speak. Many people furnish their entire homes in fabulous but frugal secondhand finds. I have. I just talked to a fellow thriftier that furnished her 3,800 square foot home with used bargains . . . for $8,000 . . . and it looks fabulous.
Others build their wardrobes from posh designer fashions they rescue from thrift stores, garage sales and auctions.
Q. I find the phrase Thrift Diva to be somewhat of an oxymoron. Isn’t thrift the polar opposite of being a Diva?
A. That is actually one of the reasons I began calling myself The Thrift Talk Diva. My mission is to take thrift out of the gutter. To show people how to decorate or dress using recycled products. Think of it. No packaging, no shipping costs, no advertising. Not only is thrift socially responsible, but we can all live in wonderfully appointed environments at little to no cost.
And . . . The Thrift Diva can show them how to do it.
Q. Why are you the expert on thrift?
A. I have been shopping America’s thrifty by-ways and high-ways for 30 years, I have outfitted my home and myself in fashionable thrift bargains, and I have taught countless Divettes how to create fabulous interiors for little to no cost.
Q. Am I right to assume that thrift shopping is becoming more in vogue with the downturn of the economy?
A. Although the art of thrifting has been around for years, it is definitely in vogue . . . it is the new black.
Q. Why does it matter?
A. There are several factors that make this frugal trend a hot topic:
- The economy is in the dumper but people do not want to give up their lifestyles . . . and they don’t need to. What they need to discover is a cheaper means to accomplish their goals, whether it is outfitting their families or decorating their homes.
- Women are hard-wired to nest, to create richly appointed, comfortable homes. Fashioning a home is the primer creative outlet for most women. It started when hides, caves and timbers were crudely fashioned into habitats. These abodes were adorned with drawings, beads, animal relics and other adornments.
- It is fun. The thrill of the hunt is as alluring in the halls of thrift as it is in the fields of prey.
Q. Do you consider the Art of Thrifting to be a business or hobby?
A. My fascination with garage sales, flea markets, antique and consignments shops started out as a hobby. I was a single mom on a tight budget and was thrilled at the thought of decorating my home at little to no cost. It wasn’t until years later and the change in perception that I actually turned my passion into a coaching and speaking business with the launch of my book Tossed and Found.
Q. Was thrift hunting an accepted activity 30 year ago?
A. Absolutely not. As a matter of fact I write about going to garage sales, incognito. I used to carry a pair of sunglasses and a scrunchy hat in my car to use whenever I stopped at a yard sale or thrift shop. At the time I was a fashion model and I was doing a lot of radio and television appearances. Back then my Divaness had not yet fully blossomed and I would have sooner died than been spotted with my head in a dumpster or in the back of some grubby barn searching for my holy grail.
Q. What is the best find you ever found?
A. I will share my most cherished possession because I feel that worth is not measured by the actual price that is paid, but the value that it holds for the huntress.
In the infancy of my thrifting addiction, I stopped by a fairly seedy sale hesitating as to whether to even go in. I did a quick scope of the interior of the garage and made the decision to leave when I spotted a dust covered picture propped behind some old boxes. Its back was facing me and I could only see the old and tattered frame. Turning it around and wiping the dust off the glass I was enchanted by the yellowed but fetching picture.
A turn of the century Diva peered out through her mask at a costume ball. I knew that I had to have her. Hesitantly I asked the proprietress of this fine establishment how much she wanted. Her tired reply asked for a mere $5.00. I knew that day, as I walked my treasure to the car, that I was hooked. I am a thrift-a-holic.
Q. When and why did you begin writing?
A. I have actually written for years, but I never brought any of my projects to fruition. It wasn’t until I lost my corporate position several years ago that I had the unfettered opportunity to follow my dreams. One day in had a serious talk with myself and threw the question out to the universe, “What course should I follow now?” The answer came back like a bolt of lightning…”Write a book about your passion.” Hence, the birth of Tossed and Found.
Q. Is there a bigger message beneath the clutter (so to speak) of Tossed and Found?
A. Definitely. I want to reach women and deliver this message: No matter how humble your dreams, no matter what your circumstances, you can reach that goal. You are powerful…own it. You are creative…embrace it. You are a Diva.
Q. Are experiences based on the events in your own life?
A. Absolutely. I talk about the experiences I have had on the road, on television and radio, on the runway and in business. I relate some of the amazing adventures I have had like having a gun pulled on us during a garage sale, finding true treasures for pennies, and decorating my home in thrift . . . at no cost.
Q. Can you share a little of your current work with us?
A. Yes. I am writing my second book entitled Tossed and Turned. Whereas Tossed and Found is about finding and buying secondhand treasures, Tossed and Turned is about decorating with frugal finds. It shows, step by step how to turn a ‘noplace’ into a ‘showplace’ at little to no cost.
The emerging Diva
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.
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.
I just made the best buy of the day… a– 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’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,
Denver Entrepreneurs LinkedIn Group
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 .
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.
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.
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.
Used 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.
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
Come on, Celebrities Holding Garage Sales?
And, here I thought that this Thrift Talk Diva had the corner on making good money with my fancy “Diva Sales.”
Whether their sales were held to make money or donate to their favorite charity, more and more stars are putting their used items up for sale. Yikes! Little did I know that I was going up against the likes of Tori Spelling, Scott Baio, Teri Hatcher and Pamela Anderson.
OK, so maybe I’ve been snookered and outclassed. I would imagine that my stuff is pretty paltry in comparison to their stuff. But, I still have a bit of a time wrapping my mind around celebrities hawking their junk just like the rest of us.
Well, why not? After all, I have yakked for years about the benefits of holding tag sales and purging homes of unwanted things. And I do love the thought of a good yearly cleanse, because it is the only purge that I know of that is capable of making a fast buck.
But I still find myself asking, “Why would outlandishly wealthy celebrities hold yard sales?”
So I’ve been doing a little bit of celebrity snooping, and, voila, I am now Diva Detective. I’ve found that most stars sell their items through auction houses, but a few actually worked their own sales right out on their very own driveways, albeit with professional agent assistance.
Some pocket the money but others donate their funds to charity. 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, $50 entrance fee, yard sale.
And Pamela Anderson was reported have sold one of her homes with all of the contents, donating the proceeds to PETA.
So what’s the difference between their yard sales and mine? So okay, the autograph signings are probably a draw. And, maybe their furnishings are a tad more elegant. And then there are the gowns, and the jewels. Hmm…
I can’t justify throwing a perfectly good shirt or pair of pants away when someone less fortunate than I can use it. And, I can’t see spending the money when no one notices.
Note: Talk about clothes…washable…OK.