How to Thrift: Assess, Research, Compare

One of my favourite hobbies is thrifting. I love spotting pieces that have a great history and have fun thinking about the time periods to which they belonged (maybe it’s my inner historian).

Unfortunately, I have a few barriers to fully embracing this hobby – and I’m sure they’re the same barriers for all of us: First, who can afford to spend the large amounts of money that so many beautiful antiques are worth? I can’t! Second, I certainly don’t have the space (nor the desire, really) to just accumulate items for the hell of it.

Thus, when I spot something that really catches my eye, I make sure to spend some research time for accurate assessing. I’ll make an estimate on the value of the piece, think about if it’s popular at the moment, and see what the market is like for similar items.

Research really is key for people who are interested in thrifting and antiquing. Knowing about authenticity and brand is a bonus but sometimes it’s equally important to just know if the aesthetics of a piece are appealing or stylish.

photo 1

These Irish coffee/hot toddy glasses are so great. They’d look amazing on any mid-century styled bar cart. The glasses are removable and the gold handles have nice, thick cork bottoms. Value Village priced them at only $2.99, which, according to my Googling, is a steal.

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And speaking of mid-century modern, how fabulous is this coffee table?

photo 2While I can’t say exactly if it was made in the 50s or 60s era (I’m still learning, after all!), it most definitely fits the aesthetic. It’s solid wood with tapered legs and brass feet. A lucky buyer could have picked this little guy up from the store for $14.99. Comparables? $450 and $495! WHAT?

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Sometimes though, a piece might have a great vintage look and might fit the criteria that you’re looking for, but that doesn’t always mean that it’s valuable.

photo 3

This green bowl was in perfect condition and was reasonably priced. Seeing the maker and location clearly marked on the bottom of the bowl is helpful for collectors who want to verify authenticity and value.Screen shot 2015-01-19 at 10.32.15 AM

Beyond the bonus of the identifiable features though, the bowl itself doesn’t hold much collector appeal. Identical bowls online were only listed for slightly more.

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That being said, it’s important to check a number of vendors when comparing prices. Between private vendors, Etsy, Ebay, etc., the prices can vary considerably.

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Someone needs to tell this guy they’re pricing too high!

Finally, if you’re buying for yourself, remember to focus on the most important question of all: Do YOU like it? Then, all those other factors don’t matter quite as much.

Happy thrifting!


2 thoughts on “How to Thrift: Assess, Research, Compare

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