I was thinking this week about how lucky I am to live near so many fantastic thrift shops, when it suddenly occurred to me to wonder about those of you who don’t. Maybe you live in a rural area, or a residential-only suburb, or perhaps it’s physically difficult to get around. Whatever the issue is, what can you do to feel the thrift-shopping thrill?
What about bargain-hunting online? Okay, maybe clicking and typing is not as visceral an experience as riffling through rack after rack in a thrift or consignment shop, but it’s always exciting to find something beautiful/unique/inspiring— especially when it’s discounted!
So where do you start? There are the usual big-name thrifty suspects, like eBay and Amazon, each with their bargain specialties. On eBay, check out their Daily Deals page; today they’re featuring electronic-related items (including 20% off an iTunes gift card). eBay is also a wonderful source for vintage clothing and collectibles, among many other categories. Personally, I’ve used eBay mostly for buying and selling yarn, fabric, and patterns; there are amazing bargains to be found in these categories.
And at Amazon, where you’d naturally expect to find books, music, and DVDs (often with deep discounts), if you click on Today’s Deals, you might be surprised to find jewelry, watches, coffee, office supplies. And while you’re on that page, you might consider joining Amazon Local Deals; just type in your city and your e-mail address (or use your Amazon account), and you’ll have instant access to great deals at restaurants, cinema, sporting events, retail stores, and much more!
Etsy is another prime online source for me, as much for inspiration as for products; it’s a really fun browsing experience. (If you’re not yet familiar with Etsy, it’s all about handmade goods, and also has vintage items and supplies.) Shopping on Etsy can be a tad overwhelming, unless you’re looking for something specific; to give yourself a starting point, click on Daily Finds E-mail (lower left on Etsy’s home page), where you can sign up to have Etsy send you e-mails with photos and links to products in categories of your choosing. E-mail categories include Gifts, Fashion, and Weddings, among others.
Shameless self-promotion alert: I sell on Etsy myself, in 2 different shops. My main shop, Knittique, is where I sell my own line of one-of-a-kind yarns, original knitting patterns, jewelry (incorporating my yarns), and unique knitwear samples. Colormusing (under the user name It’s All About Hue) sells my original photographic montages (printed on gallery-wrapped canvas in various sizes), and I’ve just started listing photographic background image collections, each with its own free tutorial for how to use them!
What about actual thrift shops? Do they sell online? Since their merchandise tends to turn over quickly, not to mention that it would be costly to list items online, I was doubtful, but I checked. Value Village (one of my favorites, as you probably know by now), doesn’t sell merchandise online, but they do have a Super Savers Club; when you sign up, they’ll send you newsletters, information about special store events, and more. And at other thrift-shop websites, including Goodwill, I found lots of information, including store locators and how-to-donate help, but, as I suspected, none seem to actually sell merchandise via their websites.
In the course of doing various searches, and looking at all these sites today, it’s dawning on me that this is a bigger topic than I had originally thought. So I’ll be following up with more links and tips, including consignment and vintage shops that sell online. In the meantime, whether you’re looking for books, gifts, yarn, art, or designer shoes, the links I’ve included here should get you off to a good online-bargain-shopping start!