Last Friday I went thrifting and took you along for the ride. It was a really fun day browsing my favorite shops- for some, it had been over a year since I stepped foot inside. I received over 300+ messages requesting shop locations and while I tried to get back to everyone, it was a tall order while trying to cram in my favorite Salt Lake City vintage stops. I figured the easiest way to share my favorite locals spots was a blog post. For those of you who don’t live in Utah, don’t worry… I’m including five of my tried & true thrifting tips in this post for you, so you still get something out of it! If you follow along on Clubhouse, maybe you already heard a couple of these thrifting tips from my chat yesterday? That was such a fun conversation with Kate, Kyla, Lauren, Susan, and Kari (some of the best thrifters I know). Click through for the tips and my local favorites for thrifting & antique shopping…
I’m not going to lie, I was torn on sharing this post because I’m spilling my SLC secret (or not so secret) spots for finding vintage, but unlike camping spots (which I’ll never share)– I figured small Utah businesses could use the support now more than ever. I guess things might become more competitive for me when it comes to scoring the good stuff, but I’m also a big believer that it’s at least 50% luck. The other 50%? Well- keep on scrolling for the tips…
1 // Frequency
Thrift the same stores frequently. I like to think of it like lotto tickets (you know- the scratch kind), you buy them all from the same roll so your odds are better. It’s the same with thrift stores- the inventory is constantly being updated and to score the best things you have to go frequently. Most days you won’t find what you’re looking for or anything amazing, but one day you’ll strike it big and come home with treasures! I think that’s why it’s kind of addicting. You never know what you’re going to find. I NEVER go in looking for something specific because I’ll never it find it. I feel like it’s jinxing myself or putting bad juju into the thrifting universe. Haha! The mirror I snagged last week was just put out earlier that day, and I had visited the shop the week prior and found nothing.
2 // Make Smart Purchases
If you see something you like- snag it (or someone else will). You have to be decisive. At the same time, understand your impulse purchases and try to avoid the things you really don’t have a place for (easier said than done, I know). It has taken me awhile to recognize the things I gravitate toward if I’m finding nothing (like glassware), and then I stop myself from bringing more home. It’s almost like we want to “win” since we put in the time and energy to go thrifting, and sometimes we feel like we HAVE to make a purchase to make it worth it. I’ve found the best days are when I have plenty of time, don’t have an agenda or list, and go in with zero expectations.
3 // Negotiate
Thrift stores are the one place you can ALWAYS ask to negotiate without it sounding rude or insulting… just remember- everyone is there for a deal. The worst they can say is no, so you might as well try. You can also ask for discounts at the register. If something isn’t marked, just ask! It’s also important to know what you’re willing to pay for something. I’ll often lookup similar items or try to find out what a product is worth before making an offer.
4 // Train Your Eye
Training your eye to find “the good stuff” takes practice. I also call this “editing”, which is knowing when to jump or pass based on quality, material, design, etc. The next time you’re in a thrift store, try to determine the difference between low quality and high quality items. My friend Kyla carries a magnet in her pocket to determine if something is real brass or metal. Being able to spot a replica or dupe is important if you’re searching for designer pieces or real vintage / antique items. Look for things like solid wood, dovetail joints, down cushions, high-end fabrics, marble, name brands, etc. You can also practice by following the experts. My friend Gwen shares so many great tips on her Thrift with the Makerista account! I’d definitely recommend giving her a follow.
5 // Inspect
Look over items carefully prior to buying. I hate noticing flaws, cracks, or imperfections after I’ve already purchased an item, and it happens more than it should. That is added negotiation power and helps me decide if I really want something, so take note of the condition and closely inspect the items you plan to buy.
Favorite Local Shops
As for the Salt Lake City spots I like to shop? Locals can find my favorite places (with links) below….
- Capital City Antique Mall
- Haight & Ashbury Home
- The Village Vintage Interiors
- Euro Treasures
- The Other Side Thrift Boutique
- Old Flamingo
- Green Ant
- Ken Sanders Rare Books
- Home Again
- Restore / Salt Lake Valley
- Lost and Found Thrift
- Planted Earth
I have TERRIBLE luck at Deseret Industries (pretty much any DI). I’ve been to them all and I always strike out. I know some people really like thrifting there. Occasionally I’m come out with glassware, books, or frames- but those are usually the only few items I can find. Maybe I’m doing something wrong? Haha! For those who aren’t local, the DI is essentially Utah’s version of Goodwill. I feel like you really have to dig.
If you’re local and into thrifting clothing, Decades is my favorite! I’m typically shopping for furniture & decor though, so I haven’t stopped in lately.
Local friends- did I miss anything? Are there places I should know about that aren’t on my list? Does anyone have any additional thrift shopping tips? I hope those five easy ones are helpful. They’re things I always try to keep in mind. Sometimes you hit it big and come home with a good haul, and other days you strikeout. It’s all part of the fun and thrill of the chase! I try not to take it too seriously. Did that feel like a little virtual thrifting trip? I hope so! I’m wishing you a wonderful weekend- maybe you can even sneak in some thrifting! I’m signing off until Monday… see you then?
PeggiMarch 4, 2021 at 4:33 am
Ooooh! These places look good! I love a spot with an attic or a basement; I feel like that’s guaranteed treasure time. I would second all of your tips; I definitely think that frequency and training your eye are key! Of course, our old friend google has certainly helped me in a pinch. That being said, I do believe that sometimes the beauty of thrifting is that you just find something that speaks to you. It doesn’t have to be valuable or have significant provenance to bring a sparkle to your eye. I have a small, unmarked pottery vase with this amazing hot pink and orange drip glaze. Even though it was 79 cents, I wavered for a minute. Did I really need another vase? As I was paying for it, the cashier said, “That’s a lot of joy for 79 cents.” She could not have been more right. 💜
PS What’s Clubhouse?
SarahMarch 4, 2021 at 6:49 pm
Me too, Peggi! The attic always has the best stuff- treasures are always hidden there! I wholeheartedly agree that sometimes you should buy something just because it speaks to you and you love it- whether it’s in amazing condition, holds value, or not. I was talking about this in the Clubhouse room about trusting your gut and having regret when you pass on something you really love. Your vase sounds incredible! Reading the cashier’s words to you really hit home… isn’t it funny how the smallest pieces of decor can really bring us joy or remind us of a memory? I bet every time you look at that vase you think of the cashier and smile. Clubhouse… it’s kind of tricky to explain, but I’ll try! It’s is a new platform that is kind of like live podcast rooms where you can chat with experts in real time, learn about different topics (like thrifting, design, business- or anything else… they have some good ones for educators that made me think of you), it’s kind of difficult to explain. Some of my friends and I hosted a thrifting and vintage decor room yesterday and it turned into a really fun conversation! Right now it’s by invite only, but I think I have one or two invitations left to share, if you’d like one. It’s in beta mode right now and one more social media platform is probably the last thing we all need, but I’ve loved it more than my others recently. Have an amazing weekend!! xo
KarenMarch 4, 2021 at 6:25 am
I love antiquing and thrifting! Just this past Tuesday I took my girls to a vintage store, and then the farmer’s market a block away. I walked out a with a lovely little hobnail milk glass planter (rectangular, I hadn’t seen that before) and a small ceramic swan (I collect swans). I have taught my girls it’s best to buy something if you love it AND you know where it will go. I usually give them a small budget, and they’re at the point now where they hunt in the same way – if they don’t see anything they love, they don’t pick anything. (When they were younger they were more tempted to buy because they were allowed to buy.)
A few weeks ago we went to my favorite nursery (plants), and I walked out with a huge monstera. My seven year old Annette asked “where are you gonna put that?” and I said “I don’t know but I love it”, and she said “You’re supposed to know where you’re gonna put it before you buy it….”. And that lead to the lesson of there being exceptions to every rule, especially when it comes to mama and plants. :)
SarahMarch 4, 2021 at 6:31 pm
Me too, Karen! That sounds like the perfect day out with your girls. I love that you’ve taught them how to hunt for things they love within their budget. That is so special and important :) Hilarious that your daughter called you out when it came to the plant. Haha!! Annette sounds like a smart girl and you sound like an amazing mom!
LaurenMarch 4, 2021 at 7:44 am
All the places you’ve featured here look amazing! How I wish I was local! Most of the true thrift stores out here are still closed-and I’ll admit I don’t know which ones are the “good” ones. For awhile I was really into thrifting, but I haven’t gone in quite some time. Lovely tips Sarah! I’ll have to give it a go again soon. Sorry I wasn’t able to post a lamp update yesterday-school took way longer than it should have and children’s emotions were high. I basically ended up putting off everything else and watching movies with the littles. Today though! My plan is to get it installed early so I can get the best possible picture to share. Hope you have a great weekend!
SarahMarch 4, 2021 at 6:24 pm
The next time you’re in Utah, maybe we plan a little thrifting adventure! Hah! I hadn’t gone in forever, but was happy to finally break the spell and get out. I feel like we’re all going stir crazy. No apology needed at all, Lauren! We’ll see the lamp whenever you have time to install it :) You’ve got bigger priorities, and it sounds like an afternoon of watching movies with the littles was much needed. You’re a great mom! Hope you have an awesome weekend! xo
MeganMarch 4, 2021 at 8:53 am
Thank you for posting this! I was curious what local places you frequent! I haven’t been to a couple of these places and am eager to visit! I also like Tomorrow’s House in 9th and 9th. It can be hit or miss, but I’ve found some cool pieces there over the past couple years.
SarahMarch 4, 2021 at 6:22 pm
Thank you so much for sharing, Megan! I’m definitely going to check out Tomorrow’s House in 9th and 9th- I love that area.
BeckyMarch 4, 2021 at 12:34 pm
I keep a list of things I’m looking for on my phone because when I get to antique/thrift stores, I get overwhelmed by all the things and forget why I’m even there. I also keep a list of measurements on my phone if there’s a specific size of something I’m looking for (table, planter, mirror, etc.).
Danna FMarch 4, 2021 at 2:12 pm
Becky, I do the same with lists of wanted items and measurements of wall space. We have a huge antiquing event near me in Texas called Round Top. It’s fields and fields of tents with everything you could think of. When I go, I get so mesmerized by all of the wonderful pieces that I forget what I am looking for.
Sarah, what is Clubhouse? Is this an underground group chat about all things thrifting…lol!? I am so ready to get back out and thrift, shop, or go to estate sales. What did you come home with or did I miss that?
Hope your Thursday is going great! We got offers on our house so fingers crossed we have sold it. Now to look for rental till we land on our next home.
SarahMarch 4, 2021 at 6:12 pm
I have NEVER been to Round Top and it’s on my list once travel is a thing again. Maybe we can meet up, Danna :) Clubhouse is a new platform that is kind of like live podcast rooms where you can chat with experts in real time, learn about different topics (like thrifting- or anything else), it’s kind of difficult to explain. Some of my friends and I hosted a thrifting and vintage decor room yesterday and it turned into a really fun conversation! Right now it’s by invite only, but I think I have one or two invitations left to share, if you’d like one. It’s just in beta mode right now. I ended up coming home with a mirror, a vintage rolling pin, some vintage brass things, and books! I’m so happy to hear about your house- my fingers are crossed for you! That’s amazing! SO fast. Have an awesome weekend! xo
Danna FMarch 5, 2021 at 12:00 pm
Sarah, would love to shop at Round Top with you. You are more than welcome to come stay with us (no matter where we land).
Sounds like you found some treasures. Thanks for the sentiment. I owe you an email with details. Still recovering from all the work and chaos. Have a great weekend!
SarahMarch 8, 2021 at 5:57 pm
You are the sweetest, Danna! Hopefully someday we can make Round Top shopping happen :) I hope your week is off to a great start! I’ll be ready to hear all about your home adventures whenever things slow down for you. xo
SarahMarch 4, 2021 at 6:13 pm
Such a smart idea, Becky! I keep a “unicorn list” of things I’ll unlikely find, but if I do- I should immediately grab. Haha! Measurements are always a good idea. I keep a tiny tape measure in my purse or bag at all times :)