As an American, you’re probably going to Target this weekend. You are, aren’t you? Well, while you’re there, keep in mind that there is no reason to pay full retail for any of the following items. Instead, stop by literally ANY thrift store on earth. All of these items are easy to find and, more importantly, cheap as hell.
– Mugs: Why do we even continue to manufacture mugs? I’m pretty sure the world is drowning in them. Unless you are pledging to NPR, there is no reason to buy a new mug. Those suckers never die and, consequently, thrift stores always have a wide variety. If you like brown, you’re in extra luck! The 70’s will live on forever in mug form. You’ll also find plenty of vacation souvenirs and slightly tragic “World’s Best Dad” offerings. Chances are they won’t match, but that’s okay, because that just means your guests will remember which coffee is theirs.
– Basic Kitchen Utensils: If it’s metal and doesn’t involve many moving parts, the kitchen utensil you need can be yours at the thrift store. This includes generic flatware, vegetable peelers, cheese graters, etc. These items are ideal, because they are both indestructible and never go out of style. Slightly less available (but certainly out there) items include ice cube trays, analog can openers, and tongs. If the idea of buying kitchenware thrift sounds gross, then you really, really shouldn’t think about how many mouths a restaurant fork has been in before yours. Boil that peeler if you’re really worried about it.
– Pillowcases: People wear out their sheets – you might have to buy those new. But clearly bed linen sets come with more pillowcases than anyone really needs or uses, because thrifts almost always have a couple decent pillowcases on hand. And if they’re vintage floral or Batman print ones, all the better! Sure, they may not match, but that just makes your bedroom quirky and interesting. If you make your bed, will anyone know anyway? Just give them a nice hot wash before you get your beauty sleep. (Gross? Have you stayed in a hotel? Hush now.)
– Picture Frames: If you have a photo in a common size (say 8 by 10) that you’d like to frame, bring it (or a ruler) on your next thrift store adventure. If you take the time to sort through everything tacky and brass, you can probably find something that suits your needs. The frame section tends to be chaos or nearly approaching chaos, but the dramatic savings make it worthwhile. You may even get the added pleasure of throwing someone else’s family memory in the garbage!
– Wrapping Paper: Granted, you might not like the way it looks, but the thrift store will have wrapping paper. It helps to not be picky (and be willing to use Christmas paper in July). But do you really want to spend real money on something that will just be ripped up and immediately thrown away? It sounds pretty stupid when I say it like that, doesn’t it? If only Justin Beiber print or other unacceptable wrapping paper options are available, remember that gifts look cooler wrapped in old magazines or comics anyway (and the thrift store has those, too).
– Any of the following books: Wild Animus by Richard Shapero, Couplehood by Paul Reiser, Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier, The Way Things Oughtta Be by Rush Limbaugh (but you should never be buying this book anyway), and What To Expect When You’re Expecting. Sound awfully specific? My husband has done a lot of research on this subject and personally guarantees that at least one of these titles can be found at every single thrift store in our great nation. In all seriousness, thrifting really is a great way to slowly build a personal library, because used books are not valued. It varies by store, but The Goodwill often prices paperbacks at $0.25. You’ll fill up your bookshelf in no time and be more willing to take risks on unfamiliar fare.
In time, you can find almost anything your heart desires at a thrift store, but the key word there is “time.” It could be years before fate places you and your objet du desir in the same place. Not so with my six suggestions above! All you need is a dollar and a few minutes to hunt.
And while you’re picking up a handful of necessities at your local thrift this weekend, you’re sure to encounter a certain odd something you-didn’t-know-you-needed-until-you-saw-it, which is the fun part. Madcap surprises and hidden gems. A chance to mutter, “Who would want this thing? What is it even for?” Though, fair enough, I’ve probably said that at Target, too.
Written by Liz