Archives for August 2009

Scouting the Thrifts for Gems

Scouting the Thrifts for Gems

When I was a fashion illustrator, one of my models, looking as usual like a million bucks, told me that she usually shopped for clothes in thrift shops. With that knockout recommendation, I finally ventured into a Goodwill thrift store in my neighborhood, plucked a navy blue Christian Dior blazer with a $6.00 price tag off a jam packed clothes rack and silently yelled “WOW”!

Shown here are some of the goodies I have unearthed in thrift shops over the years — some brand new, some barely used:

  • Bracelets fashioned of vary-colored twisted metals – more refined versions of bracelets I saw in African markets. $2.00 each.
  • One of three different Portuguese hand painted dishes that hang on my kitchen wall. $3.00.
  • White cotton shower curtain sprinkled with multi-colored flowers in original package. $4.00.
  • A box of coasters From the Museum of Metropolitan Art – a steal at a tiny fraction of their original cost.

At neighborhood thrift shops I have also been lucky to find:

  • A blazing red Bognor ski jacket that kept me toasty warm against the iciest winds on walks around the reservoir. $8.00.
  • Glass candlesticks embedded with hand blown teardrops: $6.00 each.
  • A lush, black cashmere tunic cardigan $8.00.
  • A weightless Natori caftan, perfect for travel. $6.00.
  • Designer silk scarves for a fraction of their original cost.
  • A Kenneth J. Lane gold and enamel bracelet for a few dollars.
  • And most recently an Armani jacket for a big splurge of $25.
  • Plus a zillion books and music CD’s and movie cassettes. Each costing a greenback or two.

Also a fan of thrifts, my sister made a great catch recently. Spotting a dull, blackened bracelet in a pile of costume jewelry, she looked on the inside and found the silver mark, “72.5” that she suspected might be there. It meant the bracelet contained 72.5% of silver. Once the ancient tarnish was removed, she had a glowing silver bracelet for the princely sum of $1.00.

I usually come up with my biggest hauls on Thursday and Friday nights, before the weekend hoards gallop in. And gallop in they do. These are the no-fooling-around Saturday-day-off-from-work shoppers determined to wrestle fashionable wardrobe bargains from their working sisters.

If you’re furnishing your first home or apartment on a budget, be sure to check out the thrifts before dropping your cash at full price stores. You may hit the jackpot with needed kitchenware, furniture, rugs, prints and posters and small appliances.

Keep in mind that not all visits will be successful. Sometimes you’ll walk away with a basket full of bargain goodies and sometimes you may not spot a single thing of interest. Thrifts feature an enormous variety of stuff to zip through, with quality ranging from dreary to dreamy. You need a speedy search technique to cover everything. Not places to linger, thrifts are places to zip in and zip out, hopefully carrying away some exciting gems found hidden in the jumble.