Living Green

Kayla's Thrift Shopping Tips & Tricks

Kayla from Botanical PaperWorks, gives her perspective on the beauty of second-hand treasure hunting, how it's good for the environment and shares her favorite thrift shopping tips and tricks!

Kayla from Botanical PaperWorks, gives her perspective on the beauty of second-hand treasure hunting, how it's good for the environment and shares her favorite thrift shopping tips and tricks!

My journey into the world of second-hand shopping began as a child, accompanying my Grandma to the thrift shop. I remember in particular the search for ice skates for my sister and I, as we had never really learned how to skate, and she considered it an essential skill for growing-up on the Canadian prairies. Sure enough, we found two pairs just the right size, polished them up and sharpened the blades. In the course of a single morning, we went from skate-less to zooming around the rink in no time.

This early experience with my Grandma taught me not only the benefit of saving money through thrift shopping but that the experience of seeking and finding just what you are looking for can be a fun and rewarding journey in and of itself. From books to furniture, to clothes I have found that shopping second-hand gives me the opportunity to save money and find truly unique pieces that simply can’t be found new in a shop.

Shopping second-hand is also better for our planet. For every new item you buy, waste and carbon emissions are generated through manufacturing and transportation. By purchasing a used item from a thrift or vintage shop you can eliminate the need for that extra waste and emissions, and you can also save a perfectly good item from taking up space in a landfill.

If you haven’t done a lot of shopping second-hand, those endless racks and shelves can seem daunting so keep a few things in mind to make it the joyous experience it can be. After you find your first hidden treasure, you'll be hooked!

Here are my favorite thrift shopping tips & tricks:

Keep a List: Second-hand shopping is like a treasure hunt. There is much to look through so having an idea of what you’re looking for can make the search a little easier.

Go often: Because these stores usually stock only one of each item, the stock can turn-over pretty quickly. The trick to finding the piece you want is to check frequently for new items because each is one-of-a-kind so once it’s gone, it’s gone.

You can ask the staff at most places when they re-stock their shelves with new material to be sure to get there when new items are recently brought out in order to get the best selection.

Be patient: The thrill is in the chase! Because of the turn-over, you may not find what you are looking for after one visit. Once you find the perfect piece you have been looking for though, the satisfaction is worth the wait.

Keep an eye out for the unexpected: One of the best parts of thrifting is finding a hidden gem that you weren’t searching for. Some of my favorite items in my home came from simply browsing through my local thrift shop. Thrifting allows you to find unique pieces that can really add character to your home or wardrobe.

Look for quality, rather than finish: Sometimes the most beautiful items are hidden in plain sight, they just need a little TLC to look their best. Whether that means a good quality wooden table that just needs a fresh coat of paint or a pair of too-long pants that need hemming. Pay attention to the quality of the materials, rather than their surface finish, and don’t be afraid to get your hand dirty with a little DIY to bring new life to older items.

Bring something with you to donate: I try never to go to the thrift store empty-handed. This both keeps your home free of clutter and gives someone else the chance to discover and love items you no longer need or want.

Know where to look: Not all second-hand shops will serve all your needs. Just as you might not find a new shirt and a new coffee table in the same shop, so you should visit different types of second-hand shops for different items.

Here’s a quick list of some of the different options for shopping second-hand:

  • Vintage Shops - best for clothing, shoes, and accessories
  • Antique Shops - more upscale furniture and décor items, usually items are in better shape, but come with a higher price tag as well
  • Thrift stores - dishes, board games, small décor items, clothes and pretty much anything else you can think of
  • Furniture Liquidation centers - often sell floor models or used office and home furniture
  • Used Bookshops - books, but often movies and music as well

If you begin your search with an open mind, thrifting can be a fun and practical way to save money and the environment.

Happy hunting!


Learn more about this special paper made by Botanical PaperWorks that uses post-consumer materials and is embedded with seeds so that it will grow when planted!


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