When I was in college and a member of the Young & Broke Club, I decorated my tiny apartments with items found at garage sales or curbside. As I became older, got married, settled down, bought a home, started a family, I started to buy more retail items "because I can afford it". Plus, although my husband likes garage sales, he is more of a "recreational user" as opposed to a full blown junkie. As a result, when we sold (for example) our $300 air conditioner at our garage sale for $125, my husband and I promised each other "No more retail!"
The smartest, kindest thing you can do for yourself, your family, and the environment is to buy more "pre-owned" stuff. By buying used, you are keeping junk out of landfills, you are reducing packaging that would otherwise go into the trash, and you are buying products that most likely (in my opinion) will last longer because they were made with greater care than today's products.
Here is a list of a few of my most fabulous finds:
- I once found a mirror in an alley that was marked for "Salvation Army". I really wanted it but didn't think it was ethical for me to take something intended for charity, so I left it. Walking by the same alley later that day (I was walking the dog, not stalking!) I saw that the mirror had been left behind because the mirror itself was not attached to the frame (the Salvation Army is pretty picky I guess). so when the owners pitched it, I snagged it, attached the glass, and it hung in my home until the garage sale we had prior to relocating across the country. I sold it for $10.
- On a garage sale trip, I found a pair of candlesticks at a yard sale for 50 cents. I thought, wow, these are nice. Tall, and they have a drip cup and artificial wood candles for display. When I did my research I discovered that they were made in 1901 by a Polish fine metal worker and they are probably worth hundreds of dollars. I have yet to sell them but I will let you know what price they fetch.
- I found two original drawings at a thrift store and paid a total of $7.50 for them. One of them is a sepia ink on paper drawing by a pretty prominent 20th century artist and looks like it may fetch $1000 at auction. Again, I will keep you posted.
- My son's crib set (sheets, bumper, bed skirt, valance, wall hanging & comforter), normally would sell at a retail store for well over $100. I got it at a thrift store for $15.
- Throw pillows!!!! You can buy these for $20 and more EACH retail, yet at thrift stores/garage sales you can get them for about $2.
- I picked up an Ethan Allen dresser and twin bed frame on the curb. I sold the bed frame on craigslist for $75 and we are using the dresser in our sons' bedroom.
- I bought some vintage sheet music at a garage sale and am hanging two of them in my sons' bedroom as art. The rest I am selling on Etsy.
I really could go on and on, but I'm tired and I have to get up early to pick up my secondhand $50 clothes dryer in the morning.