Sunday, March 20, 2011

When thrifting goes bad...

For the last several months I have been visiting and evaluating, observing and noting the local thrift stores in my area.  Which are the best?  Cleanest?  Most enjoyable to visit?  Cheapest?  Junkiest? Worth frequenting? and so on.  You get the point.  I think of myself as an efficient person and I don't want to waste my time on a place that doesn't:

1.  Have good items.  Perhaps not every time, but it needs to have consistent potential of quality items.
2.  Have appropriate pricing.  Target clearance pricing has trumped many a thrift store deal in my   experience.
3.  Have some measure of cleanliness and orderliness.

So,  after several months I have made my tally and now feel like I know when and where to spend my time thrifting.  Here are a some examples of my successful thrifting:

This $6.00- 1970's brass lamp was upcycled with a little tlc and some spray paint. 

What can I say, I liked the fish.

...and these colors.

This lamp was $4.99 but I got it on a half off day- $2.50, some spray paint and a reused shade.  After I got it I was completely confused because there was no switch to turn on the light... strange!  I thought it was just a poorly done lamp conversion.  But wait, NO... It is a touch lamp!  Cool!!!

Some thrifted glassware.  

And a few thrifted books.  

Unfortunately, even with all my forethought and experience sometimes thrifting goes awry.  Here is the ultimate example of thrifting gone wrong, very wrong...

I thought I could salvage at least something here.  Someone spilled bleach on it, no prob.  "I will just tear it apart."  Initially I thought I may reupholster it, then I thought I could tear off all the cloth and padding, add some slats and make it an outdoor chaise.  The possibilities, right?

For $5.89 I thought it was worth a shot.  Sniff...   Sniff...  Only, that is NOT bleach.  No, that would be cat urine!  

I spent more than 5 hours deconstructing this chaise HOPING I could get rid of the smell by removing anything and everything.  HOPING it didn't get into the wood.   First I removed the upholstery, then a layer of batting and finally 2 layers of padding.  Then I saw that the cat urine had rusted the springs!  SO nasty!!!  And yes, it even stained the wood deep underneath.  Totally unsalvageable!

So, lets just say this is the first project to completely and totally DEFEAT me!!!   Following this last photo of the rusty pee springs, I took a hammer and rubber mallet and put the chaise out of its misery!  I destroyed it completely.  It now rests in 2 large garbage cans waiting to be picked up on trash day.  (I was determined for it to fit in the cans!  I was NOT going to pay more for it to be picked by large trash p/u.  as our local service charges by the pound).

SO, BEWARE!  Thrifting can be great!  But, it can also be a disaster!  Luckily I was able to salvage the turned legs on the front of the chaise.  So, I guess it wasn't a total loss.  Still, buyer beware!  From now on I will be MUCH more weary of anything needing upholstery work, or maybe I will steer clear all together.  Lesson learned.

Have you ever been defeated by a project?  If so, please share!  I would love to know I am not alone in this :)



  1. Hi Jamiw-

    Oh yes I have had many junking items go right back into the trash. Don't feel bad - you got the legs that is a plus! I never ever buy anything upholstered - gross! Ya never know where it has been.

    My best- Diane

  2. You have some beautiful pieces, Jamie. Especially the lantern. I love that! Yeah, it's easy to get carried away with thrifting. My problem is bringing things home that I have no place for, which is easy in a two bedroom duplex. I've also started to be a lot more careful about what I choose!

  3. This may be one of the few places where you and I differ, because I'm uncomfortable in thrift store environments. It must have something to do with the aesthetics of the room that holds the merchandise, because I am able to happily shop in antique stores. Obviously, I'm just a sucker for good merchandising. As for purchases gone bad, I am the queen of buying clothing items, taking them apart, pinning them, then putting them in a trunk, never to be seen again. I'm quick to lose interest on projects if I don't finish them immediately. You were good to abandon the cat pee chaise. You only paid $5.89 for a valuable learning experience! Remember, you can't be defeated by a project--- only by your own stinkin' thinkin'. Love your blog, Jaime!

  4. Yeah! A fellow thrift shopper! I feel the same way about some thrift stores. It drives me craaazy when they have their thrift store price higher than the RED Target label that is clearly seen on next to it! New follower here.. We thrifties gotta stick together! :D


Looking forward to hearing from you soon...

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