Thrifting: Giving and Getting, A Win Win Situation

Thrift Finds

Thrift Finds


It’s that time of year again…. Tax time. Now you are probably wondering what does the grueling task of getting ready for your taxes have to do with decorating? Lots! I look at tax time as another New Years Eve, time for reflecting over the past year, making resolutions and setting goals for the coming year. Going through the previous year’s receipts and seeing where all your dollars went, reliving the past year’s purchases, good and bad ones, helps you focus for the new year. In these scary economic times we all need to tighten up the budget.
This is going to be a little lesson called “Decorating On a Shoestring”. Along with doing the taxes another chore needs to be done, Spring Cleaning. Time to take stock, purge and organize. This task can be overwhelming and easily postponed but there is no time like the present. Tackle this, room by room, closet by closet. To make the cleaning go easier you got to get rid of “stuff”. First off, set up 3 areas in the room with empty boxes, large contractor size garbage bags, and storage bins or containers. Now comes the hard part, being objective. Start in one area of the room or closet and don’t leave that area till you have completely gone through it all. The big questions are: Do I really need this item? Have I used this item in the past year? Would I like to replace this item? Do I love this item and wouldn’t dream of parting with it? With clothing it is a little easier, does it fit? Have you worn it in the past year? This is like a game, you have to answer these questions quickly and make a decision, the longer you take and think about it, the less you will be inclined to part with it. Once the decision is made decide how you are going to dispose of the item. Here’s the rewarding part, think “Green” the ultimate recycling is to donate your unwanted items to your local thrift store, things that are still in good condition, useable, wearable and saleable for the thrift store will be most welcome by them. If it is broken, torn, or stained do not donate but dispose of. No one is going to buy a chair with a broken leg or a pair of drapes that the fabric is rotting or the tee shirt that would make a better polishing rag, these should never be given as donations. You are helping many people with your donations and you can take a donation tax write-off on your taxes (you must have an itemized receipt of what you have given).
Another fun alternative is a swap party with friends, whether it is a knicknack, decorative items party or a kids or adult clothing swap meet or even a children’s toy swap, it is a great excuse to get all your pals together and have a party. There again make sure all your swap items are clean and in good repair, your rhinestone decorated sandals that pinch your feet and you have never worn could make a smashing new accessory for your best friend’s new summer outfit. Everyone brings and goes home hopefully with a “new” treasure and had a fun afternoon.
Another way to look at all this purging is from a money making angle. Dollars made from selling your items at consignment shops, can be used to buy things that you really want for the new season. Or get together with a couple of friends and plan a tag sale, decide whose house has the best exposure for tag salers to find, pool your goodies and share the work and make some money. In a future article I will cover all the points in having a successful tag sale or estate sale. If some of the items you have decided to part with are collectible and have value you may want to contact antique dealers, used furniture dealers, ect. who would be interested in purchasing what you have for sale. Consult the Yellow Pages in your phone book, go online, stop in some antique shops, find dealers who would be interested in the types of items you have for sale. This is usually the fastest way to get rid of unwanted items. Remember a dealer will offer you a “wholesale price”, not the top retail dollar figure that you might get if you spent the time and money to advertise the item and sell it retail yourself. If you want to sell it yourself and you have time to deal with the numerous inquiries, you can try internet sites such as Craig’s List, or set up an account and sell it yourself on Ebay’s auction site. The classifieds in your local newspaper or Penny Saver may find you a customer. But a word of caution, don’t spend the money till you get it, and have sold the item. These times are tough, many people are cashing out the dollars in their closets and attics and things are a hard sell for the most part right now, you have to have a little more patience and swallow hard and compromise on price. What things were selling for a year ago, is no where near what they are selling for today. I was one of the first sellers on Ebay, in the beginning (ca. 1998) no matter what you listed for sale on Ebay, it sold and at a good price, now only 20% or less of what is listed on Ebay actually sells and many times for a lot less than it’s value. This was a lesson we all had to learn, something is only worth what someone is willing to pay you for it. This “Recession, Depression” whatever you want to label it has hit all of us hard, no one is immune from it. So the dollars you get from getting rid of unused or unwanted items may not be a “killing” but every little bit helps, whether it is cash in your pocket or a charitable donation it still helps.
Now remember I suggested you have some storage boxes earlier. These are for items you are keeping but not using at this time or in their original state or for their original purpose. Now I know you fellow collectors or packrats, didn’t totally reform and get rid of everything you aren’t using. But hopefully you gave it a good try. We are still using the “thrifty mentality” many of these items can be refinished, redesigned, or repaired. Curtains, sheets, bedspreads, many things made of fabric can be made into other things. Decorative items can be swapped into other rooms or areas, furniture can be redone, painted or refinished, the crafty ones will look at these items as raw materials to be transformed or made into something new. Quilts were made out of scraps of material, rag rugs were made out of old clothes, kitchen tables had their legs shortened to be made into coffee or cocktail tables. Old armoires were made into entertainment centers, old dressers into bathroom sink vanities. So back to recycling, what can we make out of our discards that we still like and have many more miles in them ?
We had turned into such a throw away society, our landfills were over flowing and new was always better, but times have changed and it’s time for us to be creative as well as thrifty and responsible. Hopefully we won’t ever be in the position of our grandparents, who lived through the Great Depression and made 101 dishes without meat or put cardboard in their shoes but we can re-examine our spending habits and go back to some of the old ways of re-doing, repairing, and redesigning and come up with some pretty clever and unique ways of decorating.
Now for our reward after sorting, cleaning and purging, we have a fresh palate to work with, to redecorate. After Spring cleaning who wants to put things all back the same way. Family and spouses won’t even notice all the hard work you did. Now it is time for the fun of redecorating, getting creative and achieving a new look. Work with what you have, swap things between rooms, spend a little of the money you made selling off your old things, after dropping off your donations at the thrift stores, go inside and check out the bargains, you may find just the treasure you need to start your creative juices flowing, inspiration may strike and you have a theme for a whole new look. That little ladie’s desk that needs a coat of white paint might be just the thing to put in your bedroom corner and make a wonderful place to sit and journal. Maybe you might find a small brass lamp with a toile shade to go with it at your neighborhood Goodwill. Recycle, it’s fun!

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