Thursday, April 28, 2016

Thrifty Thursday: Hannah's Top Thrifting Tips :)

Hello, everyone! Welcome to the first of my "Thrifty Thursday" posts. Today, I thought I'd share my top tips for shopping at thrift stores. :)

As you guys most likely know by now, my favorite local thrift store is Goodwill, so some of these tips will apply specifically to what I've found there. That being said, these tips should work at any thrift store. :)

Tip #1: Be Persistent
     Persistence is key for successful thrifting. Going back to the store multiple times a week, and even multiple times a day (if you're up for it) will bring you the best results. I tend to go on Tuesdays and Thursdays before my gym classes. My mom usually goes on Sundays after church and our traditional Panda Express lunch. :) Find a time that works for you, but change it up every once in a while. Most stores have different times of day that they put out new products. Sometimes, first thing in the morning is the best time to find things, but sometimes an afternoon or evening is more successful. You never know what will happen, so keep going back, even if you've had a series of disappointing visits. :) 

Tip #2: Be Thorough
     I'd probably find a lot more things at Goodwill if I followed this rule. Of course, a lot depends on how much time and effort you want to devote to thrifting. Since I do it mainly for fun at this point, and since I'm running out of room, I'm not quite as concerned about being thorough these days. 

There are three main places I search for toys and dolls at my local Goodwill.

1. The Toy Aisle:

2. The Toy Table:
Which can look like this...

...or like this, depending on the day. ;)

3. The Product Carts:
I don't know if this is their official title, but at Goodwill, newly priced donated items are brought out in these big carts before they're added to the shelves. Customers are allowed to paw through the carts before things are shelved. Honestly, I still feel a little weird doing this, but my mom has found some GREAT stuff this way. More on that later. ;)

Overwhelmed yet? ;) I usually start glazing over by about halfway through the toy aisle, so don't feel bad. If you take things slow and are willing to dig, though, you'll have more success as a thrifter than someone who just skims the surface.

The Toy Table can hold countless treasures, but you'll find more if you sift through everything. I've been known to dig through the whole table from one side, and then go to the other side and start all over again. It's amazing how much you can miss just because of your angle.

I spy a McDonald's Shopkin! :)

Here are a few things I discovered at the Toy Table today. 

Since I am trying to cut back on stuff, I put almost all of back on the table. In fact, the only thing I ended up coming home with was the Merida figure on the right. It was fun to unearth all of these ponies and fast food toys, though. :)

Here she is, all cleaned up. She's plastic and appears to be a cake topper of some sort.  

Some of you may remember that I wasn't a big fan of Brave when it came out. It's still not my favorite movie. But Oldest Gal got to see it for the first time this past year and really enjoyed it, so I thought I'd surprise her with this little 49 cent figure. :)

Don't be afraid to dig through things to find those treasures. But I'd strongly advise keeping a supply of antibacterial wipes or hand sanitizer in your car for afterwards. I can always feel the grime on my hands after I've touched that many old toys. :}

Tip #3: Be Patient
    This kind of goes along with #1. There are times when I'll visit Goodwill for weeks and never find anything significant. Which is probably good, because my house would be way too full if I found something spectacular every time. ;) It would be easy to give up and decide that it wasn't worth going anymore. But you never know when you'll find something. The stock changes every day and throughout the day. Don't give up just because you've struck out multiple times. Without fail, I'll always have a success after a string of failures. It may not always be a huge, earth-shattering find, but there's usually something to celebrate. :)

Tip #4: Have Fun!
     On the flip side, try to keep thrifting fun. Going into a thrift store is like going on a scavenger hunt. You never know what you'll discover. However, if you have a slightly obsessive personality like mine, it's easy to live at the thrift store (especially if you have time on your hands). You can drive yourself crazy thinking about the possible finds you're missing. I know that sounds a little over the top, but I've actually found myself thinking that way before. Some of the local regulars do spend entire days at Goodwill, waiting for the new product to come out. (My mom and I have been known to go multiple times during the day, if we're being perfectly honest.) ;) I'm not condemning people who want to thrift that way, because everyone is different. For someone buying and reselling as a business, that may be the way they have to shop in order to make enough of a profit. But personally, I don't want to thrift like that. If I did, I think I would feel enslaved to the store and this hobby, instead of enjoying it as a fun and casual pastime. 

     Whatever way you decide to thrift, keep it fun. When it starts becoming overwhelming or stressful, it's time to back off for a bit. :)

I've already shared some of my more amazing finds in earlier posts, which you can see on my Thrift Store Finds page HERE, but I thought I'd share a few more recent finds on today's post. It wasn't as exciting of a week for me, but I still found a few fun things.

I've been keeping my eye out for a copy of Iron Man on DVD for a while. I didn't want to spend a lot, but I wanted to watch it again, especially since Oldest Gal and I had our recent Marvel marathon last month. ;) This is one I didn't have. I can still remember watching this in theaters, back before we knew how huge the whole Marvel thing would become. This was the one that started it all. And while Iron Man isn't my favorite Avenger (and his films usually have a little more inappropriate content than the others in the series), I still enjoyed the story. This was $3.99.

I'm always on the lookout for these books. For Women Only and For Men Only by Jeff and Shaunti Feldhahn are excellent books for any married couple. Hubby and I read them several years ago and both wished we'd had them when we were first married. We love giving them as gifts or letting other couples borrow them. So whenever I find a copy, I snag it. (Note to my single readers: these do go into the physical aspects of marriage as well, so I'd recommend this for engaged or married couples. Shaunti has also written a book called For Young Women Only, but I haven't had the chance to read it yet. Sorry, guys, there doesn't appear to be a "For Young Men Only.") :)

I found this cute Cherished Teddies figurine in the breakables section for $5.19. Oldest Gal collects these, so I'm putting it away for a Christmas gift. :)

For 99 cents, I got this doll-sized edition of Aesop's Fables. :)

The illustration on the back.

So, last week, when I first decided I wanted to do this post, my mom had a very convenient and AMAZING thrift store find. I thought it would be the perfect way to wrap up this post. :) 

She found a white body Pleasant Company Kirsten doll numbered and signed by Pleasant Rowland herself, dated 1986. :D She was sitting in one of those product carts we talked about earlier, waiting to be shelved.  Her price? $5.99.

For those of you who are not aware, Pleasant Rowland was the founder of the American Girl company back in 1986. The earliest AG dolls had white bodies instead of flesh-colored ones, and apparently the first 100 of them were personally signed by Pleasant.

She does have a couple of flaws, like this bit of ink in an unfortunate location...

...and some frazzled bangs that will be difficult to repair. 

However, her limbs are amazingly tight and she has no silver eye or any other issues. Most of her rub marks are minor and should clean up quite nicely.

She came in Samantha's School Dress...

...which is marked West Germany on the tag (meaning it was one of the original dresses, which were manufactured in Germany instead of China as they are nowadays).

And this is one of those examples of patience and persistence paying off. Our local Goodwill first opened in 2012. In that time, we have only found two American Girl dolls (my mom has actually been the one to find both of them). This is not counting the Molly I found, since she was in a Nevada Goodwill. ;) We assume that most of them are set aside for Goodwill's online auction site. However, mom thinks that because the white-bodied dolls are not tagged, this one slipped through the radar. 

I almost hesitate to post this. If anyone from Goodwill reads this, we may not ever find a white-bodied doll again. ;) But I just wanted to show you how this sort of "right place at the right time" thing can happen at a thrift store, and you never know when. I think that's the most exciting thing about it. :)

I hope this post has encouraged you and inspired you to try some thrifting of your own. Have any of you found something amazing at a thrift store? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below. :)

Have a wonderful day, everyone, and Happy Thrifting! :)


Doll Dimensions said...

I loved reading this! :D <3 Indeed, thrift stores sometimes have better things than retail stores! WOW! That Kirstin is an incredible find!

Stephanie said...

You have an amazing Goodwill with lots of toys. The ones near me have one toy aisle and it is rarely full. I have been fortunate enough to find two Bitty Babies, and a Sasha doll. I would love to find an American Girl, but have never seen one at any of the Goodwills I visit. However, I have bought most of the toys, games, and puzzles there that I keep at my house for the grandchildren.

I'm so glad you are posting a little more.

P.S. Your mom sounds like my kind of shopper.

AddyLovesWolves said...

Wow! I really need to get to the thrift stores! I'm looking for dolls like ever after high, monster high, AG, etc. I'm going to fix them up and put them up on my blog for adoption! I haven't seen Brave but I know what happens :) That AG doll is definitely a great find!

Cindybin said...

Great tips and finds. The only two Goodwill stores I go to have small toy aisles with nothing but junk, it's very disappointing.

MyLittleMegara said...

What an incredible AG find! Oh, my gosh! I've seen a Molly like that for sale for over $300!

Tam said...

Before I say anything about the amazing size of your Goodwill, I have to tell you:that ink mark can be EASILY removed! A product called Stain Devils will take it out upon application and a little rubbing. This stuff is a life saver. We always joke that they should have me do a commercial for them, since I already sound like one.I'm planning on doing a post about it soon. You can get it at Walmart in the laundry aisle.That said, you have a HUGE Goodwill compared to ours. We have one measly toy aisle. (Mind you, I have found at least three AG dolls at ours,probably more, plus minis.)No wonder you find great stuff!

Hannah Prewett (beastsbelle) said...

Thanks, Doll Dimensions. :) Thrift stores are pretty amazing. And yes, we're both still geeking out about Kirsten! :D

Hi Stephanie! We're incredibly blessed with our Goodwill. Whenever we travel, we stop by Goodwills in other towns, and it amazes me how much better our toy section in particular is than other Goodwill stores.

Sounds like you've found some great finds as well. I hope you find your American Girl doll there someday soon! :)

I'm glad you're enjoying the posts. My posting might be a little more sporadic this next month. (I'm trying to get as much of my writing done as possible before the girls are out of school.) ;) But once school is out, there should be more posts again. :)

My mom is an incredible shopper. I only hope someday I'll be as awesome at it as she is. ;)

Hi AddyLovesWolves! I see Ever After High and Monster High dolls pretty frequently at our Goodwill, so it's definitely possible to find them. I wish you the best in your own thrifting adventures! :)

Thanks, Cindybin! Yes, there's nothing more disappointing than entering a Goodwill and finding a few dilapidated stuffed animals and other such things. I've been in Goodwills like that, and it's always such a shame. Are there any other thrift stores in your area that might have something better? If not, maybe you can try other Goodwills and thrift stores when you travel. :)

Hi MyLittleMegara! My mom was so excited when she found Kirsten. She called me from her car right after she got her. :D She didn't even know she was a white body until right after she checked out, and when she got out to the car and saw the signature from Pleasant Rowland, she just about fell over. :D I'm so happy for her. :)

Thanks so much for the tip, Tam! I'll pass it along to my mom. :)

I'm glad you've been able to find such great stuff, even with a disappointing toy aisle. We have found a few AG pets and AG doll carriers, but the dolls are not something that usually show up.

Thanks for stopping by, everyone! :)

Angela said...

Wow! That white-body Kirsten is an AWESOME find! And yes, I believe the reason that Goodwill didn't pull her for their online auction site was because they didn't recognize her as an American Girl. I have lurked on your site for the past couple of years, and am finally taking the time to say how much I really enjoy your posts! My Goodwill find of the century happened last month, when I stumbled across five, reproduction Bleuette dolls for only $10 a piece! I almost hyperventilated, since I know that these dolls can easily sell for over $100 each on Ebay! (I have since sold three of them and made almost $400!) I decided to return to the same Goodwill the next day, "just in case", and lo and behold, there were two more Bleuettes! I snatched them up as well. I checked back at that store daily for the next week, and just when I was about to give up hope for discovering any more, I found one more Bleuette mixed in with the naked Barbies. Can you imagine? I was flabbergasted. I think somebody must have been cleaning out grandma's "creepy doll" collection, and just dumped them off at the Goodwill, not realizing what they were worth. So, you just never know what you might find at the thrift stores!

Hannah Prewett (beastsbelle) said...

Hi Angela! Thanks so much for stopping by. I'm so glad you've been enjoying the blog. :)

How exciting to find that many Bleuettes in one place! Congratulations! :D I was able to find two antique Madame Alexanders and one R&B doll once. They were marked at $4.99 each. I wasn't even sure which dolls they were at the time, but I could tell they were valuable. Mere moments after I swooped them up from the shelf, another woman came and said something about how neat they were. At the risk of sounding totally selfish, I was so glad I'd gone to the toy aisle first! ;)

I'm sure it was another case, like you were saying, of a relative clearing out a family member's collection and not knowing the value. I guess there are advantages to some people finding dolls creepy! ;)

The worst part about a find like that is the walk to the cash register and checking out. It's so hard to stay calm and not draw attention to yourself. I always worry that someone is going to say "Wait a minute! I know what those are!" and make me pay the actual value.

The best part is getting to the car and finally doing your victory dance...or hyperventilating, whichever you feel like. ;D

Congrats again on your finds, and thanks so much for coming by and sharing! :)

Barb the Evil Genius said...

Your story sounds like something on the Antique Roadshow, where they find some painting in Grandma's attic and it turns out to be a Picasso worth $10,000, or something like that. I always envy those people! Fantastic find!

I wish our thrift stores had more toys. I did find an mini Josefina complete with box once, but I passed on her, as I wasn't a fan of that outfit, and she was still $10. I guess persistence is the key, but I'm always thinking they'll never have anything since the toy sections are so small. I am looking forward to garage sale season!

BlackKitty said...

That Kirsten was an amazing find! Unfortunately we don't have such thrift stores in my country, they only sell clothes. Not even shoes, just clothes and sometimes bags! We have flea markets for other used things but they are usually garbage. Only once I was able to find two original Barbies, one of them is among our top favourites on the doll shelf :)

SwanburneGirl said...

Wow! I've never really found anything at Goodwill, but I've found Jess and MyAG (I REFUSE to say Truly Me, it just sounds weird) #21 (now named Charlotte) at a local antique store a few years ago and MyAG #49 (I think, haha! Her name is Zoe) at a doll show this past weekend.
Iron Man's not my favorite Avenger either (that'd either have to be Captain America, Black Widow, or Scarlet Witch), but I do enjoy his movies, and Pepper's one of my favorite non-superhero Marvel characters. (Actually, I think Pepper deserves to be counted as a superhero-she keeps Tony in line for the most part, which is no small task, haha!)(So does Darcy Lewis. She tasered a Norse God who has power over lightning. ;) )
Have you heard of the "It's Me" dolls by The Family Company? I found one for $2 at a doll show this past weekend, and she's one of the prettiest dolls I've ever seen. No joke. She's about nine inches tall and from what I've gathered, she's the "Sharing Family Traditions" one with brunette hair. I wish I could find more because they're just so darn cute, but there are like 2 for sale on the Internet and they're all out of my price range. Boo. :(

Hannah Prewett (beastsbelle) said...

Hi Barb! It does sound like something on Antique Roadshow. ;) I was so happy for my mom. :)

I do understand how hard it is to keep going back when time and time again there's nothing there, especially when you have a small toy section. We're really blessed with ours, and even there I'll have days where there's NOTHING worth getting.

I'm really hoping to get back into some garage sale shopping this summer. The girls are finally getting old enough that it would be fun again. ;) When they were little, it was just too stressful to get them in and out of a hot car that many times.

Thanks, BlackKitty! I'm sorry you don't have thrift stores available to you. Your Barbie is really cute, though! :)

Hi SwanburneGirl. :) Wow, great finds! :) Congratulations!

Pepper is pretty awesome, and I love Darcy, too! :D Of course, I still think of Gwyneth Paltrow as Emma, because her version of the Jane Austen story came out when I was in high school, and was one of my very favorite movies. So it always startles me a little to see "Emma" in Iron Man movies. ;)

I haven't heard of the "It's Me" dolls...I'll have to Google them. Congrats on finding one, though! :)

Thanks for stopping by, gals! :)

Brenda and Sophie said...

I love this post! That Kirsten is just WOW, WOW, did I say WOW??? What a find. I am an avid thrifter, particularly for doll-size items. Just yesterday I found 3 pieces from Felicity's tea set!! My best was finding a Pleasant Co. Molly with her green velvet Christmas dress, but nothing near as awesome as your Kirsten find! Awesome.

stevenjared0853 said...

I am thinking to take my family to California for a small family trip. Would stay there for couple of days and thus, looking for affordable venues which provide food along with accommodations. Don’t want upscale options though.

Mark Patraw said...

I've been waiting for this post since you mentioned it! As an avid thrifter, I always like to see/read what other shoppers score at their secondhand shops and what prices they're paying.

If there's a copyright on Merida and it says DecoPac, she's definitely a cake decoration, as they're the company that does most of those licensed ones. Brave isn't my favorite movie either, but I did like that it was a different kind of princess film, plot and character-wise, than Disney usually makes, which was refreshing. I pick up cake decorations fairly frequently myself; some of those are surprisingly cool (I even found a Godzilla one with an electronic light-up mouth and articulated arms!)

While they usually have a decent selection of toys, I don't frequent our Goodwill too often, because it's almost twelve miles away and their prices are always the highest out of all the local thrift stores (judging from the photos, yours is nicer and better organized than ours too). Based on other peoples' comments that I've read online, both here, and elsewhere, there is a lot of variation in pricing at Goodwills, from state-to-state, and even city-to-city.

The best places to go in my area are the two St. Vincent de Paul Society thrift stores. One's a little pricier than the other, but, the closer one is the cheaper of the two, so that works out great for me (they also sell fun little blind-bagged assortments of toys which are almost irresistible, especially the MLP and small doll ones). I only stop by once or twice a week, and usually in the mornings, but, like you noted, sometimes it pays to pop in at different times. I used to worry that I was "missing out" on stuff too when I wasn't there, but, it's really just a matter of being lucky enough to be present at the right time when something good gets put out.

Here's my most recent review of five of my thrift store finds (I always try to do a mix of boys/girls/gender-neutral items):

And this is a photo gallery of all my 2016 thrift store finds to date (mostly books/toys and some music CDs and electronics):

Joanne Mariel Maniago said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hannah Prewett (beastsbelle) said...

Thanks, Brenda and Sophie! :D Glad you enjoyed it. Congrats on finding parts of Felicity's tea set and Molly! :) It's always so fun to find great stuff for a good price. :)

Hi stevenjared0853. Thanks for stopping by. What part of California are you thinking? Affordable is a relative term depending on budget, but one of the places we love to stay for our girls' birthday trips in Roseville is the Fairfield Marriott hotel. (This one here: )
The rooms range from $117 to $129 per night (for current dates). The rooms are nice, and the stay includes a good continental breakfast. The only downside is that most of the hotels in this chain have removed their indoor spas. They still have their pools, though. You should be able to find another one in the chain elsewhere in California.

This last February, we stayed at the Hyatt Place hotel in Roseville. ( ) This one is a little more upscale, but not super over-the-top. The price per night ranges from around $165 to $197. A huge continental breakfast is included. We stayed in this one this time around because now that the girls are older, we weren't going to be able to have three adults and three children in one room at Fairfield Marriott, so it ended up being cheaper to stay at the Hyatt.

Hope this helps, or at least gives you a starting point. ;)

Hi Mark! Thanks so much for sharing your thrift store finds. It was fun to browse through some of your treasures. :)

You called it on Merida. She was marked DecoPac. :) Brave has grown on me a little bit now that the girls are older, but I still have some issues with the film.

Your Godzilla cake topper sounds pretty cool. Not something I'd probably pick up in my house full of girls, but I can understand how that would be an exciting find. ;)

I've seen a huge difference in Goodwills even just from store to store in Northern California. Sadly, our Goodwill has started going up in price over the past few years. Most things are still okay, but there are times where Mom and I find something and think, "Really? They're asking THAT much?" ;)

Your thrift stores sound so fun! Like you, I'm particularly drawn to blind-bags/group bags of small toys. It's so much fun! :)

Thanks again for sharing! :)

Hi Joanne! I hope you find your Surjan for your sister!

Joanne Mariel Maniago said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hannah Prewett (beastsbelle) said...

I'm so sorry, Joanne, but aside from watching eBay and other secondary markets, there's not much advice I can give you. Once a doll line is discontinued, it can be very difficult to find them, especially mint in the box. I wish you all the best in your search!