Top 5 Things to Buy at Thrift Stores

August 3, 2016

Are you a thrift store junkie? Does your heart beat faster at the mere mention of a flea market or estate sale? Then this list is for you. Come along with me and find out what I consider to be my "Top 5 Things to Buy at Thrift Stores". (And some translate into top buys at those flea markets and estate sales as well.)

My mother was a bargain shopper. To the core. She always made a yearly pilgrimage to the outlet stores in Reading, Pennsylvania for a full day of bargain shopping. Outlet stores were nowhere near as numerous as they are today, so it was a Really. Big. Deal. And she rarely, if ever, bought anything that was not on sale. Well, I guess the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Cause I'm the exact same way. In addition, I LOVE to go thrift store shopping. Anticipating all the treasures that await is a large part of the fun! Not to mention actually snagging that great find or getting something awesome at an incredible price.

I've shopped at thrift stores, flea markets, barn sales and estate sales for many years now, so I thought it fitting that I finally share a list of what I believe to be the top 5 things to buy (certainly at thrift stores but perhaps at those other venues as well) if and when you get a chance. And I certainly hope you do!  

  Top 5 Things To Buy 
At Thrift Stores

1. Ironstone

It's no secret that I'm a vintage ironstone lover. I've been collecting it for years now. I'm not sure exactly when I fell in love with it, but suffice it to to say that my love for it is still going strong. And yes I almost have more of these to show you than all the other thrift store favorites combined. It's a weakness.
 DIY round tray

This ironstone pitcher is one of the first pieces I ever brought home. I picked it up at a thrift store for $2.99. I use it as a vase all the time, as can be seen here on my DIY Wooden Tray Target Decor. It looks perfect no matter what kind of flowers I put in it. It's farmhouse decor to the max.

vintage ironstone pitcher

Here's another, much larger, vintage ironstone pitcher. As you can see I love to display my hydrangeas in them on my vintage-inspired lemonade serving trays!  Again, another thrift store find for under $5.00.

Mikasa French Countryside 15 inch oval platter

Sometimes I find contemporary pieces and their prices can be a real steal as well. I picked up this contemporary white ironstone platter for $2.00 at Goodwill. It's a Mikasa French Countryside 15 inch oval platter selling on Mikasa's website for $79.99 (MSRP $155.00). Score!

vintage thrift store ironstone pitchers

I adore small, ironstone pitchers. Many of them have delicate details that make each of them unique, like these two. Also thrift store finds.

California Pottery USA 260 soup tureen

Ah, and how can I mention ironstone without also mentioning the lovely soup tureen? I think tureens are my absolute favorite ironstone pieces. I use them all over the house for display, and as vases as well. I picked up this California Pottery USA 260 soup tureen at Salvation Army for $4.13 (value: around $50.)

vintahe ironstone soup tureen with lavender topiary

 This one is also a favorite. It looks perfect with my lavender topiary.

ironstone soup tureen white shuttered farmhouse mirror

Here's yet another soup tureen serving as a charming addition to my white farmhouse shuttered mirror vignette.

Pottery Barn-inspired china cabinet hutch ironstone silver

My Pottery Barn-Inspired Dining Hutch  really shows off some of my ironstone collection favorites. I like to pair them with silver plate thrift store finds (see number 5 below), mercury glass and natural elements thrown in for good measure. I will never get tired of it.

2. Candlesticks 

I've purchased many different thrift store candlesticks over the years. What I love most about these purchases is that they can be used for so many things besides candles!

white faux pumpkin witch silhouette ornate tall vintage candlestick

Here's one example of that. When I picked up this tall, very ornate candlestick at Goodwill I immediately had a vision for it. My white witch silhouette pumpkin fit just perfectly on top!

Goodwill white distressed candlestick DIY cake stand

Here's another example of how I used ordinary candlesticks in a not-so-ordinary way. I picked up a pair of these brand new Target candlesticks at Goodwill for a song. They were already painted white so for someone like me that was a huge plus!

Goodwill white distressed candlestick DIY cake stand
Look at that detail! You'd almost think they were vintage.

Goodwill white distressed candlestick DIY cake stand

The fact that they were already distressed was a bonus. All I did was temporarily attach them to white plates with candle fixative to hold the two pieces together, forming an impromptu homemade holiday cake stand for my Christmas bottle brush tree vignette.

vintage patina'd candlestick stamped candle

Here's one of my all-time favorite thrift store candlesticks actually being used as a candlestick! Its vintage patina goes perfectly with my DIY Shabby Chic Stamped CandleYou usually can't beat the price, and for such a versatile accessory it's so worth it.

3. Frames

For mere pennies you can pick up some incredible frames at thrift stores. Some have art work in them you might like, while others are worth it just for the frame itself. I usually buy just for the frame and then decide what I'm going to do with it once I get home.
thrift store frame

Take this frame for example. I didn't exactly buy it for the artwork, although it might be someone else's cup of tea . What do you think I did with it?

thrift store gilded frame

This one screamed memo board to me. For $2.99 it was totally worth it. And it was already painted gold! Next to white, gold is my other color crush.

DIY Farmhouse Frame

Here's a frame that was actually a cork board in another life. The board got waterlogged so I gutted it and painted the frame white. My cost: $1.99 at Goodwill.


DIY chalkboard from vintage frame and plexiglass

My repertoire of  DIY chalkboards made from thrift store frames is pretty huge. There are so many uses for thrift store frames, the possibilities are endless.

4. Baskets

I'm a huge fan of baskets of all kinds. I used to collect Longaberger baskets, back in the day. Boy, were they expensive! Now, if I buy a Longaberger basket, I get it at Goodwill! Occasionally I'll pay full price for a basket if I really love it and don't think I'll ever find it anywhere else for a lower price.

Easy DIY Mossy Easter Basket

Here's my $1.49 grapevine basket turned into a mossy Easter basket.

thrift store painted basket

This is one of my favorites. It's a huge thrift store basket I totally transformed with paint. I really thought it turned out professional looking, just as nice as any Pottery Barn basket you might come across -- but for a lot less money!

DIY stenciled basket storage for blankets and pillows

I totally transformed this $1.99 basket with some stenciling and rope embellishment into a chic home storage solution. The round basket tray that it's sitting on was a thrift store find as well.

I usually have to restrain myself when I hit the thrift stores and see all those baskets just waiting for a makeover!

5. Silver Plate Accessories

Whether sterling silver or silver plate, each type of accessory can be found at thrift stores for a fraction of the price you'd pay elsewhere. I'm a big fan of tarnished silver as well as silver plate pieces, and I've definitely found my fill of each of them over the years.  

shabby chic silver bowl with dollar store soap roses

I absolutely love the patina on some of my thrift store silver pieces. This lovely silver bowl became part of my understated shabby chic Valentine's Day decor a few years ago.
thrift store silver bowl spring cloche

This large silver bowl was a $2.99 Goodwill find.

vintage silver champagne bucket with hydrangeas

A much as I adore vintage silver trophies, I've never had the urge to pay the price. They're typically quite expensive. However, I have found that inexpensive vintage silver ice/champagne buckets and loving cups-of -sorts can fill in nicely.

estate sale silver loving cup with baby boo pumpkin

This estate sale loving cup proved just the right size for a cute baby boo pumpkin.

Vintage silver plate pitcher with detailed etching

This miniature silver plate pitcher was $1.99 at Goodwill. 

vintage silver cake stand pumpkins hydrangeas

This thrifted silver plate cake stand is one of my all-time favorites. You can certainly use it for cakes. But you can also use it for seasonal vignettes like this one.

So let's recap:

 Top 5 Things To Buy 
At Thrift Stores

1. Ironstone
2. Candlesticks
3. Frames
4. Baskets
5. Silver Plate Accessories

I know this has been one of my longer posts so thanks for hanging in there with me! I hope I've motivated you to go out and search your local thrift stores for some of my top favorite items. I know I'm very lucky to have a large number of great Goodwill stores within a short driving distance from my home. Not every town has the same variety that mine has so you might need to shop around a bit more to find the right shopping sweet spots that will work for you. 

What do YOU love to buy at thrift stores? 
Thanks so much for spending time with me today!

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Leave a Comment!

Cecilia said...

Isn't thrift shopping addictive? I mean, just look at all the great pieces you've found! I had fun reading your post about your top five picks. Hm, I think I'm going thrifting today! Lol.

Summer said...

Nice tips and I love all those cute items ♥

Queen Of Rods said...

I really enjoyed this post. It's fun to see what other folks are finding, and I especially enjoyed seeing how you "style" each piece for display.

gary said...

A fun post to see what you like & look for! I like silverplate too, & you have given me some ideas on how to style, which is my weak area. I love all your finds though.

NanaDiana said...

I have been dropping stuff OFF at the thrift store as we prepare to downsize and I don't DARE go into the place. lol Have fun thrifting...I have always loved it. xo Diana

mary scott said...

Love this post. The photos with the pumpkin displays are wonderful! Thanks

mjmaterazo said...

it's all true. i pick up all those items thrifting as well. i agree 100% and love the price tags. your photos were all lovely & very inspirational. and you have a wonderful tureen collection. xo- maryjo

Sharon @ Blue Willow House said...

We look for many of the same things. I like that you showed how you use all the different things you buy in your home.

Diana said...

Very fun post, Kathleen; I loved seeing all of your great thrifted finds. I also seem to get a lot of tablecloths and globes at Goodwill in particular, and doors and furniture at the Habitat ReStore.

Tuula @ Thrifty Rebel Vintage said...

Great post Kathleen. Love your choices. I can't seem to stop picking up silver plate pieces. I may have to get rid of some. The ironstone is so lovely. I don't see much of that. Maybe that's a good thing. lol.

Julie said...

I have found some really great frames at thrift stores! I also find them a good place to pick up vases for giving flower arrangements to friends.

My thrift store addiction said...

You've gathered some lovely collections and no telling how much money you've saved, which is why I'm addicted! I buy all of these things at thrift stores too. Actually, I'm so spoiled by the bargains, I have a hard time paying retail--unless it's at thrift store prices ;) Still hunting for the elusive silver trophy!

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