The UpCycler’s Etiquette Guide to Thrifting

Woo-hoo! UpCyclers everywhere are on the hunt for items to transform into something useful and unique.  I look for wool sweaters and other materials to put in new creations.  Should you want to join in the hunt, here are my do’s and don’ts that I’ve learned either first hand or passively.

1.  Get there early, but don’t knock on the door before they open.  That is rude.  These people have families to feed breakfast.  Give them time to get ready.  Don’t bother them the day before they open either.  They are frantically trying to pull it all together before supper burns on the stove.

2. Bring cash, more than you think.  You’ll never know what you’ll find.  If you got a friend with a station wagon or truck, keep them on speed dial on your cell phone.

3.  Use an ap.  There are all sorts of aps for your smart phone that will show you what garage sales are happening in your area, complete with a map.  You can map out your route to save gas!

4. Sign up for email notifications.  There are websites that will send you notifications of garage or estate sale listings.  You can cater this to your area, how often you want to be notified, and when.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask if they’ll take less for an item, but only if you are already purchasing something else or if the item really is overpriced for its condition.  But please, don’t try to go lower just to go lower.  Yes, they are trying to rid of this stuff, but they need a profit too.  They took a lot of time to organize this event.  I would say you can break this politeness rule if you are interested in only one larger and much pricier item.  Be ready for them to say no and be okay with that.

6. Keep quiet about your intenctions with the seller’s Joseph A. Banks wool sweater or Pottery Barn curtains.  Even though they are selling these items, they tend to not want to lower the price when they hear your plans.  Somewhere in the back of their mind is the original price tag of that item.

7. If you are looking for wool, and the sweater no longer has its tag, don’t buy it.  You want to be absolutely sure of the percentage of wool in order for it to felt correctly.  (At least 80%)  Trust me, acrylic can be deceiving.

8. Return at the end of the day.  Sellers might be willing to lower prices to get the stuff out of their garage.  Plus, they’ll remember you purchased earlier in the day and might be willing to NOW give you other items at a discount.

9. About estate sales: Be mindful that this is probably a sale to rid of a recently departed family member’s belongings.  It’s weird, I know.  They’re selling it, so they must not want it, right?  But you’d be surprised at how people might react when they hear you are, in essence, going to destroy grandma’s sweater she got on the last trip to Peru with the kids.  Or, these items have been agonized over as to what stays and what goes.  There could be fond memories attached to these items, but it simply does not go with their home decor, or they already have too much stuff.  Just be mindful.

10.  Don’t ask a seller to hang on to an item so that you can come back later to pay for it without at least putting a deposit down.  Chances are you’ll forget or find something better and leave them hanging.   Chances are they could have sold it to someone else during the day, but they were waiting for you to return…and you forgot.  The only time I broke this rule was when I wanted a dining room table and chairs but didn’t have the cash on me.  I called hubby and STAYED THERE to show the seller that I wasn’t going anywhere until the money and the truck arrived.

Happy treasure hunting!

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