ALL POSTS IN Shopping

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When Blu Dot was first starting out, they got their logo design in exchange for building a custom treehouse. So you might say that the company was founded on an ethos of swapping. Which is lucky for the rest of us, because BluDot is having another virtual Swap Meet, starting today!

swap meet logo

The poster states “All reasonable trades considered,” and they’re not kidding. They’re seeking talents, devices, oddities, tasks, taxidermy, collections, crafts and whatnot in exchange for their gorgeous modern chairs, sofas, lamps and more. Last year there were tons of artistic and eccentric bids accepted, like a spork collection and a secret handshake. It’s got me wondering if I can parlay something like my grandmother’s treasured green chili recipe into that Lily Pad Coffee Table I had my eye on!

five swaps on bludot swap meet

How about you? What would you trade for some Blu Dot goodies?

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Everything’s coming up Seuss! Today is the 108th birthday anniversary of Theodor Seuss Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss), and also marks Read Across America Day and the opening of the 3D-CG Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax movie in theaters. Do you like Seuss in a book? Would you like it as a look?* Check out this sweet Seuss suite from the Loews Portofino Bay hotel in Orlando.

Though my Internet research hints that these rooms may have been converted to other family-fun themes recently, you can carry Seuss style into your own kids’ room with a few simple elements. Start with a color scheme of crisp white accented by bold primary colors, as in these Seuss-like designs. Feeling artsy? You can try painting the classic characters on the walls, but no one would blame you if you went with these easy Dr. Seuss decals instead. Whimsical furniture that’s just a little off-balance is a must. Top it all off with super-cute Seuss bedding and accessories, and your kids will feel as though they’ve stepped into the pages of their favorite book.

*(I’m sorry, but it’s mandatory that all references to Dr. Seuss contain some Green Eggs and Ham rhyming.)

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A good thrift store becomes a great thrift store when you can maximize your spending power. Discount days are perfect for getting more bang for your buck.

Some stores run daily or weekly sales. Often times, sale items are identified by color tags. I find it difficult to keep up with the ever changing sale days and colors, so I have a notebook to write down which days have which colors and what percentage off I can expect.
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We’ve done a lot of work on our apartment recently, but one area that regrettably remains untouched are the closets. And they are a horror show. (When I say I have skeletons in my closet, I mean literally — the Martha Stewart skeletons that I use as Halloween decor keep falling out of my hall closet when I open it. And don’t get me started on the nightmare that’s barely containing my wardrobe.) So, when I spotted this “closet” in the Australian retail store Green With Envy, that is what I turned.

david hicks closet

Designer David Hicks (not that David Hicks, this David Hicks) gave this dressing room area all the touches I’d dream of if I had a walk-in closet of my own: Art Deco lines, a sophisticated-yet-decidedly-feminine color scheme, a dramatic display rack of clothes and comfortable seating. Shopping usually feels like a bit of a chore to me, but I’d try on tons of togs if it meant spending time here.

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So, The Twelve Days of Christmas actually start ON Christmas Day (or at least that’s what Wikipedia tells me), but I’m gonna try something a little different here and kinda do a countdown with the famous carol leading up to Christmas. And in keeping with my own interpretation of the chronology, I’m also going to get a bit less-than-literal with the gift recommendations. Starting with this whole “partridge in a pear tree” affair.

partridge pear tree

I think a pear tree sounds lovely (mmm, pear tarts!) and partridge a bit less so, but honestly, not many people have room for either these days. That’s why I think these cool retro brass partridge figurines and Jonathan Adler graphic pear pillow make a pleasant alternative. If my true love showed up with these, I wouldn’t regift them, is what I’m trying to say.

 

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I haven’t even started thinking about doing my holiday gift shopping yet, but I’m not worried because along with our own excellent gift guide on HGTV.com, I’ve got an ace up my sleeve. That ace is called Svpply. If you’re not already familiar with it, think of Svpply like Pinterest, but for products. It’s tempting to call it a “social shopping site,” although I think the better way to describe it is a “retail bookmarking and recommendations” site with a clean, minimalistic design. You create an account, and drag the “Buy Later” bookmarklet into your browser’s toolbar. Now when you search the shopping sites you love and spot something you want to remember, you can click the “Buy Later” button, briefly describe the item, and it gets clipped and saved to your Svpply.

svpply

This is handy enough, but there’s also a social element. You can follow friends, stores, or even strangers with great taste, to see which products they’ve added to their accounts. Not to mention that there are features that allow you to see the trending products across the site and Svpply’s own Editor’s Pick. Best of all for this time of year are the gift guides, broken down by price point and type of product, and the new ability to make a set of items (like a Pinboard) — say, “In-Law Gift Ideas” — and either keep the set private (good if the people you’re shopping for are also on Svpply) or mark it public to share with other users (like I plan to do with my own wish list, hint hint). Svpply’s always been handy for my Daily Delight design spotting, but I think it might just make me the best Secret Santa of all time.

Are you on Svpply, or are you planning to join? If so, leave your user name in the comments! Happy gift hunting, all.

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It’s party season! If you are planning on attending holiday parties this year, be sure not to show up empty handed. I’ve compiled 10 Fabulous Gift Ideas for the Hostess to share with you. These are easy to find, easy to order or just might inspire you to find something similar. Let’s start with edible gifts. Sweets and treats are abundant this time of year and they are especially great when they come with pretty packaging. Baking yourself? Buy cute plates like the elf one and present your goodies on the plate.

english toffee cratehot chocolatejingle elf platescaramel peanut bark

I always love personalized gifts! Think ahead and order monogrammed gifts for any upcoming events you are attending. The monogrammed mugs can be filled with candy, treats or a gift card and wrapped with cellophane and ribbon for a perfect hostess gift.

emma mugfern in burlapmonogrammed soap

Delight your hostess with scented candles or body products. She’ll need the stress relief once the party is over!

parties for hosting, holiday candlesstress relief

What do you usually bring when you attend a holiday party? Tell me in the comments below! I would love to hear your ideas.

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While I sometimes enjoy thrifting alone, going with a friend can be a whole lot better.

'i <3 thrifting" day 2011

Shopping with a buddy gives you an opportunity to get a second opinion right on the spot about an item.

What’s I Heart Thrifting Day?

Of course, this will only work if you value that person’s opinion, so make sure your friend is one you trust. You need someone who can even be truthful and let you know when you don’t need something, too.

"i <3 thrifting" day 2011

Small groups are an excellent way to cover more ground a a very large flea market. Put together a list of what everyone is seeking and you can easily text or send a quick picture if you find something on the list.

"i <3 thrifting" day 2011

How great is it to smile with a friend about one of your awesome scores or share thoughts on the seller whose prices were sky high?

So what are your perks for having a thrifting buddy or group?

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When I was growing up, my family always used to ask me for my Christmas wish list about a month in advance, and it would be a whole big production. This year, I think I’m going to save everyone the trouble and send them a link to Zinc Door. Done and done. I’ve always admired Wendy Estes and Tiffany Harris’ other site, the more traditional Layla Grace, but you know when you look at a certain catalog or walk into a certain store and think, “Oh, these people just get me”? Zinc Door is like that. The vibe is modern, eclectic, fun and still sophisticated at the same time. (It’s got echoes of Kelly Wearstler, if I do say so myself.) Case in point? This Branch Cabinet.

branch cabinet

It’s industrial, yet organic at the same time. I’m a total sucker for anything tree-related (a product of being from Pennsylvania?), but the aluminum branches are not just decorative. How clever that they’ve been incorporated into the design as the media cabinet’s legs! This is a little much to expect Santa to leave for me, but really, I’ll take anything from Zinc Door. I just hope the elves are listening.

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Guys, I meant to tell you about Michelle Armas‘s energetic abstract paintings a long time ago, when I first was tipped off to their existence by Cassandra LaValle of Coco + Kelley, I really did. But I’m a little selfish. Her paintings always seem to sell very quickly, and I didn’t want my favorite pieces to be snatched up before I had a chance to consider them. I apologize for withholding information. To make amends, I’ll give you this hot tip: Michelle’s got a new Etsy store.

droid painting

Okay, I’m still protecting my best interests. This wild riot of color and motion (“Droid”) is one of my favorite $100 paintings on her Etsy page, but not my absolute favorite. I hope you don’t guess which one I’m crushing on before I buy it, or I’ll be crushed.

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When I first started thrifting for my apartment, I filled my shopping cart with everything that caught my eye. Too many times, I’d leave an item behind to give myself time to consider it, only to come back to find that someone else had bought it.

Thrifters Gotta Have Patience

But the real trick isn’t throwing everything in your cart just to keep someone else from picking it up. It’s editing before the item even goes in your cart.

Vintage BowlYes, this vintage bowl is gorgeous. But do you really need it?

The first thing is to ask, “Do I really want this? Where will I place it?” If you say yes to the first question and give a quick response to the second, I would say it’s a keeper. However, if you don’t have a place for it, and/or it doesn’t give you the happy feeling, let it go.

I admit to having way too many dishes. I used to buy inexpensive pieces because they were my style. Many of those pieces are still sitting in the bag the cashier placed them in. If you don’t entertain regularly, or display dishes as soon as you get home, chances are you won’t ever use them. So edit your cart and take out those pretties. Heartbreaking, I know. However, it’s for the better.

How to Display Dishes if You Just Can’t Part With Them

Double check what’s in your cart to make sure you don’t already have something similar. Unless you collect canisters, ask yourself whether it’s necessary to have two sets.

Do you edit while you shop? What are some of your tips.

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I’m getting a little older, so Urban Outfitters isn’t one of my go-to stores these days, but every so often something pretty will catch my eye and put it back on my radar. Like these cherry blossom curtain tie-backs.

cherry blossom tie back

The curly brass branches are a striking color, and the white enamel blossoms look so delicate against that glowing backdrop. They’re feminine and fun, and at only $14(!) each, you really can’t go wrong. Just promise me you’ll leave the ironic tees to the 25 and under set, yes?

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It has been said many times that patience is a virtue. Unfortunately, neither patience nor virtue can be bought in stores. If you have it, then you should put it to good use when thrifting.

design star thrifting

HGTV Design Star contestant Mark Diaz thrift shopping.

Thrift stores in general don’t have an overstock of items, that once gone are replenished. The inventory is updated as often as things are brought onto the floor. A moment of patience can change your life in a thrift store.

Many people go into a thrift store and see nothing they want in the first five minutes and say, “There’s nothing here for me.” However, the moment they leave could very well be the moment the exact item they desire comes from the back room.

True story: I was shopping for a client’s room and was about to walk out the door. As I walked down one aisle, I saw an easel. This easel had not been there while I was shopping moments earlier. I immediately inquired and bought it.

Another true story: I was again shopping for a client and saw a mirror that had just come onto the floor. I told one of my assistants to inquire about a price. Unfortunately they didn’t. It was already sold by the time I could ask for the price myself; just that quick.

It’s not a race to see who can snag the best deal, it’s about being patient and not being in such a rush to leave. There is no set time when inventory is brought out. There is no planogram for the new and incoming items.

If you are leisurely shopping, I say giver yourself an hour to just watch the store. See if the associates are bringing anything out. I am not by any means suggesting you stay there all day (although I know some people who do spend that long). I am simply encouraging you to be available to what may be “The Find” for you.

So tell me. Do you leave a thrift store if you don’t see anything that catches your eye upon arrival?

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I was fortunate enough to attend the opening of the C. Wonder store in Manhattan yesterday, and though my boyfriend would probably joke that the “C” stood for crowded, it’s likely a nod to the mastermind behind the brand, Chris Burch, the former husband of fashion designer Tory Burch. The store’s wares definitely have that similar peppy, preppy vibe to them, but in addition to the fashion offerings you’d expect, there were lots of colorful home goodies to be had, too.

c wonder opening

I especially loved all the dish sets, but in the end I walked out with a few cool decorative trays, a tortoise shell bowl, and some classic stud earrings (I couldn’t resist). Don’t worry if you aren’t close to the SoHo location — Curbed is reporting that the brand will open more stores in the tri-state area by year’s end, and have its e-commerce up and running in a few weeks. Then you can see wonder for yourself. (Sorry, couldn’t resist that either.)

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When most people consider thrift stores they often think of used items. But sometimes a major thrift store will collaborate with a major department store, offering many of the same items. So the question is, should you buy a new item from a thrift store? Well….

When a thrift store in my area had its grand opening, I went. When I walked in the store was like a rock concert, people everywhere. I had no intention of buying anything until I spotted a box of cherry-wood suit hangers.

Wooden Hangers

I really needed some good-quality hangers and these were less than half of what they would be in the department store. And they had two boxes of them in the thrift store. Even better, the store is still stocking the same hangers!

Thrifting: When Not to Buy

Rule #1: Buy a new item in a thrift store is when the price is significantly less that what it would be in a department store.

Just because an item is brand new in a thrift store, doesn’t mean it’s currently being sold in regular retail store. It can simply mean someone donated a product that has never been used and still in the box.

Cari Cucksey’s Flea Market Shopping Tips (video)

For example, I picked up these Ralph Lauren sterling silver wine chillers earlier this year.

Ralph Lauren wine chillers

The $135 price tag from the original store was still on them. I knew I’d use them for years to come so I bought them.

Rule #2: If the item is brand new but not currently in circulation, and the price is right, buy it.


Emily Henderson: Round-Up From the Round Top Antiques Fair

What happens if you see an item in the thrift store, but you also know regular stores carry it? While it is good to patronize thrift stores that have a good mission to donate and give back, don’t pay more for an item that you can find elsewhere cheaper. For example, purchase small items like batteries or pencils from a traditional retail store.

Rule #3: Don’t check your price-checking skills at the door. Buy only the real bargains.

Do keep in mind that thrift stores return policies do vary.

So have you purchased a brand new item from a thrift store? What was it?

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You’ve been there. You see an item in a thrift store and immediately think, “Ooh, I’ve got to have this!” When in reality You may not even need it. My small condo is filled with things I should have left behind.

Today I’ll help nudge you past the items you should leave for the next bargain shopper.

Tips on Negotiating at Thrift Stores

I’m the first to admit that if a see a certain label or a stamp that says “Made in…”, I’m intrigued and want to buy it. However, the place where a piece of furniture, garment or tchotchke is made should not be the major reason you buy it. I’ll admit, certain items automatically exude quality or exclusivity, such as this tissue box, which was stamped “Made in Italy.”

I didn’t need it. Yet I bought it because, well, it said “Made in Italy.”

So you’ve got a garage full of I-will-paint-that-soon projects? That means the vintage Heritage sideboard for $60 may not be a wise purchase. I know it’s tempting to buy all of the amazing finds that are reasonably priced. However, to keep from being on the next episode of Hoarders, only buy pieces of furniture you need and that you can use immediately.

How to Find the Best Thrift Stores

Walk on by that complete plushy mattress set in the furniture section. Regardless of the low price, mattresses are not items I would suggest buying from a thrift or secondhand store.

One of the best feelings in the world is to walk into a thrift store and spy the perfect piece to complete a room. But this is only a good thing if you’re not driving a two-door sports car. Is it really a bargain if you have to rent a utility vehicle to get it home?

And don’t even consider buying it if you’re traveling. When the cost to transport an item significantly outweighs the cost of the actual item, leave it in the store.

Don’t worry, though. Something better always comes along. It’s the magic of thrifting!

So tell me, when do you leave something in the store?

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Negotiating. It’s the moment you either love or dread. For you newbies and dreaders, here are a few tips on how to negotiate while shopping thrift or visiting a yard sale.

The first rule is always be pleasant. It seems obvious, but if you’re kind and courteous to the sales associates at a thrift store, they’re more likely to remember you. After you’ve flashed that great smile and put on a little charm, it’s time to starting dealing. It’s important to note that every store has its own policy regarding discounts, so don’t expect the store to bend its policy just for you.

How to Find the Best Thrift Stores

Here’s a story. I was in a well-known chain thrift store. I saw 10 cups that were individually priced, but priced rather high. I asked the sales associate if the sticker price was the best price. She informed me that the prices were fixed and could not be changed. My next step was to ask for the manager.

silver cups from thrift store

Look at my find! Gorgeous silver cups.

When the manager came out I started talking about how amazing the product was. I slowly leaned in and made a proposition: “What is the best deal I can get if I buy all of them?” She gave them to me for half price. Which was great. Especially seeing that the associate had previously told me a deal could not be made.

design-happens-thrifting-bed

Another great find.

If you are visiting a yard sale, I would encourage you to have a firm price in mind when looking at a piece. For example, if you know you won’t pay more than $500 for a bed, offer $300. Perhaps they will come in at $400. If that’s the case then you technically saved $100. The worst case scenario is that they say no.

Better Life Through Thrifting

Finally, bring an internet-ready device. Many times thrift store associates are not familiar with the value of an item and may often overprice it.

Use your mobile device to send pictures to friends and get their opinion if you aren’t sure what to pay. Visit auction sites like eBay to see what the going rate is. Typing in key words on major search engines may offer valuable information as well.

Keep in mind that all of these are just tips and are not fool-proof. You can be pleasant, speak with the manager and even start off with a great offer, and still get a plain-Jane no. Don’t fret. You tried. If you really want it, buy it. If it costs too much, leave it. Something else is bound to come along.

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So you think you want to thrift but you just haven’t found the inspiration. Let me tell you why I love it!

Thrifting is an affordable way to find unique home decor and clothing. For example, I started thrifting as a means of finding clothes that none of my friends had, at a price that didn’t break the bank.

Design Happens: What We Love About Rashon

Design styles recycle themselves so you can find things that were once old, but are now new.

Don Draper's Office, The Mid-Century ModernistDon Draper’s Office, The Mid-Century Modernist

If you visit a few church swap meets, I’m sure you’ll find authentic pieces of furniture or accessories that inspired the Mad Men phenomena. You may even get a great story to go along with your treasure!

Repurposed Design: Repurposed and Recycled Decorating Projects

Thrifting is also eco-friendly. When you buy a used chair at a garage sale, you’re keeping it out of the landfill and reducing your carbon footprint. Plus, you can repurpose lots of things you find. How about turning a salvaged sink into a bird bath? While helping to save the environment you can get some stylish pieces – could there be anything better?

So…go in search of that perfect mirror, headboard or sofa. And be sure to tell us what you find.

What are you waiting for…the weekend is almost here!

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Say hi to our newest blogger, Rashon Carraway, aka Mr. Goodwill Hunting. If you love rummaging through thrift stores for the perfect design find, you’ll love Rashon’s weekly posts, all about thrifting. They’ll run every Friday starting tomorrow. And if you haven’t made his acquaintance yet, here’s a little about him.
Rashon Carraway, Mr. Goodwill HuntingRashon began blogging under the alias Mr. Goodwill Hunting in 2009 as a way of sharing his love of thrifting with the world. Although a renter, Rashon felt the need to personalize his space without spending a lot of money. As his blog audience grew, he began to open up more about his decorating process, sharing his fantastic finds along the way.

HGTV Blog of the Month: Thrifting With Mr. Goodwill Hunting

In January 2011, Rashon made a guest appearance on the Nate Berkus and was invited back several times during the season. He became a regular guest during season two.

He owns a lifestyle firm, Rashon Carraway Designs, that seeks to help individuals live their best life through thrifting. He is also a wardrobe consultant and event planner.

In the summer of 2011 Rashon created I Love Thrifting Day bringing people together from all over the country to shop and the spread the word about his favorite topic.

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This past Saturday, HGTV staffers hosted an “I <3 Thrifting” party. While Mr. Goodwill Hunting traversed Charlotte, NC, in search of deals, we stormed thrift stores in our HQ city of Knoxville, Tenn.

I-Love-Thrifting-HGTV-Staff

HGTV Staff (L to R): Jen Moore, Karli Cook, Kelley Walters, Jennifer Leitman, Anne Wilkerson, Kayla Kitts, Nancy Harless

While I only came out with an 80s-style purple skirt and red belt, others hit the jackpot and found antique plates, cupcake stands, vintage fans and kitschy decor. Check out some of our finds:

I-Love-Thrifting-Thrift-Store-HGTV-DesignHappens

The West Knoxville team loaded up with goodies at Nostalgia, a local "vintique" market.

Anna joined designer/bloggers Dayka Robinson, of Life + Style, and Erika Ward, of Blulabel Bungalow, in Atlanta for some thrifting fun. (Erika scored the mod lampshades.) While Anna was on the hunt for dining room chairs for this DIY project, she ended up with a rake, a small brass chicken and a vintage Good Housekeeping tin waste can like this.

I-Love-Thrifting-Atlanta-HGTV-DesignHappens

Anna Millman (second from right) thrifting at Goodwill and My Favorite Place in Atlanta.

Did you participate in “I <3 Thrifting” Day? What city were you in? What amazing thrifty finds did you come out with? Let us know in the comments below.

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