The Brick and Mortar Stores:
Corporate Thrift Stores (i.e. Salvation Army, Goodwill, Savers, etc.): Goodwill has an online auction site, outlet stores, and will often host auctions inside some locations. They usually feature the items they feel will bring more money than just sitting on the shelf.
Local Thrift Stores: Local thrift stores are awesome to shop at because more than likely they benefit a charity in your area. There are multiple here in Austin, and my favorite ones fund schools and AIDS victims. If they’ve got people supporting their cause and easy to donate to them, then they have more products. Just because Goodwill is a household name it has the most product, but just don’t overlook your local places.
Antique/Vintage shops: Usually really pricey, but if that’s your thing then go for it. Those who are working in the stores will almost always budge on the price. Can be pricey but it just depends on the store. Like antique shops, they typically rent out space in their store to dealers. These dealers look for good deals all over the place, because of this the inventory turns over quite often. So like most places, go often. Also, get on their email list or check websites (if available) they’ll notify you of sales and often have pictures of the current items. This way you can keep your eye out for a piece you want. Also, these are great places to shop if you collect certain items or have an era you gravitate more toward.
Resale/consignment stores: Unlike Antique and vintage shops, resale/consignment are more likely to carry a very wide variety of things from lots of decades. Because of this, make sure when you shop at these places that you take your time. Because there’s usually such
Online Secondhand Shopping:
Craigslist: Jess had some great tips for staying safe in her DIY Return Policy post. And there are also plenty of apps to help you out with this on your iPhone or even on your computer. Craigslist Notification for Android is the app that Jess used to buy her couch, a lot of other items, and even her latest car. These apps are nice because they keep you up to date on a variety of craiglist areas so you can specify how far you’re willing to drive for a piece you really want and passively keep an eye out for when and where it might be available.
eBay: The best place to look if you’ve got an item in mind that you want. Like Jess’s Hippos! The perfect eBay find.
Etsy: Check out the vintage listings on Etsy. It seems to be a bit easier to navigate through than eBay just because there’s less to chose from.
“Free” shopping: Check the side of the road. In Austin, there are “bulk” pick up days. This means that anything large you’d like to get rid of (including furniture) you just put on the curb and the city will come and pick it up. Funny thing is, you’ve got to beat those folks who go around early in the evening before the pick up happens and load up a trailer. We saw two different people driving through our neighborhood last time packed to the brim. Which made me think, does this mean that the city has less to put in the landfill because of the people who want the junk? Maybe, so that’s cool.
If your city lacks an active bulk pick up day, consider scoping out your nearest college town in May or August. These are common move out (and move in) times at dorms and college apartments so you can often find some great pieces that are left out in the hopes that someone takes them. Lawrence, Kansas has a great selection in August and when we were living in Lubbock, Jess and Kyle had pretty good luck at a lot of the apartment complexes in May and August. At her apartment, she once saw someone pull up in a pickup, unload an ottoman and grab a new sofa. Very few items even made it to trash day! Of course, you want to be extra careful when someone is throwing something away that it’s not infested with a nasty pest.
For more free goodies, you can also check out your local freecycle group. You can usually find one attached to your nearest city on Yahoo. These allow requests for things as well as a way to list things that you want to give away for free and often you can find great bones for your DIY projects. The freecycle groups I’ve participated in are pretty active so things go quickly — which means that a daily digest of new posts often is just a list of items you missed. You have to subscribe to the list and let every post get emailed to you or your likely to miss out on most finds, so be prepared for the influx of new emails. A filter that puts email into a specific label (in gmail) or folder can really help with this!