Thrifty Tuesdays: The Early Bird Gets the Worm

Thrift and estate shopping for vintage goodies is really like a job that I’ve come to warm up to. It’s about waking up before the tot and hubby are up, before breakfast is even made, and many times before the sun is even up. You would think that because it’s so early, that there wouldn’t be a bustle of shoppers. Apparently, others are seasoned to catching their treasures early and you are met with a crowd of like-minded vultures. Vultures in a good way. These people have eyes like hawks and snatch a potentially worthy item before your sleepy self can realize that that piece of glass is worth more than its handwritten tag of fifty cents. They are skilled and impulsive. They are business minded and have no mercy. Those are my competitors and I’ve come to know their ways very well. A word of advice to myself after last weekend: coffee. Lots of caffeine and maybe ten push ups before getting into the car.

I have found some awesome retro finds once I’ve learned the shopping skills needed to make my trips worthwhile. Last weekend, I drove to the countryside as early as seven a.m. for an estate sale and it changed my perspective on that buyer’s drought I spoke of in this post. Dusty and fragile, shiny and heavy, faded and full of history, this place was like finding a treasure trove. I scored amazing things from being an early bird, which will be posted in my Etsy shop very soon after they are polished and washed.

Flea market vendors are a different story. The prices are not priced as low as thrift shops and estate sales. However, you can find some neat things if you really look. Here’s the biggest flea market in Raleigh located at the NC Fairgrounds.

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I love how much history is embedded in each vintage object. You can tell how much meticulous work went into building furniture back then. The intricate paint jobs on ceramic figurines must have taken forever. One can only step back and really appreciate the workmanship that goes into such items. I’m an old soul and that ‘s perhaps the reason why I am so drawn to these things rather than going to a retail store. I like for objects in my home to have a voice. They resonate with energy from their makers and their previous owners.


You can find this amazing bowl in my Etsy shop.

Part of having a successful vintage shopping experience is pure luck, but you can increase your chances of finding unexpected treasures if you follow these simple tips that I’ve acquired along the way (there is no order in these, just as long as you follow at least two you’ll be set):

  1. Scour classifieds and the internet a week to a few days before you plan on shopping for estate sales and auctions.
  2. Set your alarm at least an hour and a half before the sale is set to open.
  3. Caffeine and of course breakfast for brain fuel.
  4. Push ups. If you can. Or maybe a two minute jogging in place. That’ll wake you right up.
  5. Map out your trip (where will you go first, second, third)?
  6. Wear comfy clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty in. You’ll be doing a lot of kneeling and wiping off.
  7. Make sure you tell your loved ones where you’ll be. If they wake up and you are gone, they might worry. Just make sure to bring them back breakfast or lunch when you are done — at least to sugar up the pain when you tell the spouse how much you “accidentally” spent.
  8. Oh yes….bring cash.

If you have been discouraged with places that you shop at, try going once they open. You’ll be surprised with how different their stock is from morning to afternoon.

Tell me about your morning rituals before you go on an exciting bargain hunt!


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