Thrifting can be like dating sometimes. You can be allured by the price (or looks, flashy car) without really seeing the quality (or manners, how he treats you) of an item. I did this with dating. In fact my dating past is not only pathetic but it is embarrassing. Being years younger looking and only 4 feet something small in high school, left me at the back of the line for attracting boyfriends unless you count kissing pictures of Morten Harket and Kirk Cameron. It wasn't until I was a senior (age 17-18) that I even found a boyfriend and he was a lowly freshman. I was grateful at the time but it wasn't like I had top choice. Years after I dumped him he later went on to be arrested for having crack in his car. Sigh and whew.
I think my best times were my college years where I had two boyfriends, although not at the same time. One very sweet but far too moldable for my stubborn and independent side and the other was very good looking, creative but he didn't understand me or my quirky ways. Of course there was the in between guy who sort of liked me and things kind of happened but they really didn't. But that's okay because he was the hottest of them all and I can look back at that time through hazy dream eyes.
Once I left college everything went down hill quickly. I met liars and alcoholics and crazy guys. There was the guy who smelled like a bar but slurred that he hadn't had anything to drink in weeks. Or the guy the said he wanted to marry me but when I became angry over something financial (as only a thrift girl would) he threw the engagement ring (when he was alone) and it landed in a hole in the tree and he couldn't get it out. Most of these men I left because I knew there was something better to come. You don't become a helpless romantic only to settle on a drunk or a guy who loses rings in trees. And while it is hard to leave a relationship, I knew I had to. I knew that the perfect man was out there just waiting for me. In the end I had to go to Chicago to the Sears Tower to find him. It was worth the wait and the journey.
Your probably asking how thrifting and dating can really relate to each other? When I married Dave, I also married his couch. It's been with us since I moved to England in 1997. It somehow came over to Virginia with us in 2001. And even sneaked across the country to Seattle in 2003. It's the couch that won't go away. I didn't mind it at first. It was certainly nicer than any junky furniture I left behind in the states. It also same with a large matching chair.
Here she is on her way out but that's jumping to the end of the story. I don't know about any of you thrifters but once I have in my mind to get or replace something, I pretty much keep it at the top of my thrift list priorities.
Two months ago I went to look at a mid century sofa with a hide-a-bed. The price was too high for the condition it was in. It had laminate arm rest that had raised bubbles and just wasn't perfect. Not wanting to settle I kept on looking. I would search thrift stores, yard sales, Craigslist and our local online yard sale email group with determination. I wouldn't quite call it obsessed but it probably hovered just a little left of that.
I went to see another couch on Friday at the north end of the island. It was powder blue and looked so similar to this couch which I have coveted since I began watching the show. The price was still rather high at around $350 but the color was stunning. The condition not so good so I said that I would think about it. I must admit that I am tired of having okay condition furniture in the home. I mean even though I thrift for everything, it doesn't mean I have to settle for crappy junk. And I have done so on more occasions than I'd like to admit. As I have said in earlier posts, frugal is the new rich and we have the skills and ability to live a rich lifestyle on very little money. The good stuff is out there waiting for us too, we just have to find it.
It does take patience and persistence but eventually you can find practically anything second hand. It takes some clever negotiation to have that conversation with yourself about whether the item you have been searching for is right for you. Will it hold up, does it require work to make it look good (like the couch with the bubbles in the arms), is it a high quality item, will it be able to exist in a house with two children, a corgi dog and a tortie cat? Don't get sucked into the temptation to buy something because the price is right or it is too attractive in some areas but not in others. Sometimes I will buy something that might not work but I look at the price and I weigh up whether I can resell it if I change my mind. For now yard sales do not have return policies.
After Friday's couch turned out to be a disappointment I went to bed with a heavy heart not knowing how long I would have to deal with Dave's bachelor's couch in my living room. It doesn't match anything in the house, well except the chair of the same design, and I usually have a vintage patchwork quilt to cover it up. The next day though my persistence paid off with all the bells and whistles.
There were only two sales on the island which began at the exact same time. I had to choose between a rummage sale at a church or a yard sale in a posh neighborhood. Thankfully I went to the rummage sale first which happened to be ten minutes early in order to find this couch. The price? $50. I nearly tripped over myself as I lunged toward the cashier telling her I wanted, uh or actually, had to have that couch. She said she would hold it for me. Knowing rummage sales like I did I asked her to tell everyone so that it didn't slip away to someone else by accident. She shouted across the parking lot "The couch is sold" only to be met by cheers. Another woman said "I knew it would sell first. Didn't I say that?" she told a volunteer next to her. I smiled knowingly and continued shopping.
Thrifting and deciding which yard sale to hit first is truly the luck of the draw. After the rummage sale I drove out to the posh hood in search of the other sale. It was in a posh garage but the sale was just junk. I knew it wasn't going to be a good one when in the book stack there were at least five antique guide books for sale. A thrifter can always spot another thrifter/dealer. They/we stick out like a sore thumb.
With a goal to have a ranch house like this in the next few years, this couch was a perfect match. Now that I have the couch all I need is the house and of course a coffee table to match. After being in a cluttered, shabby chic home for the last three years I am finding myself terribly drawn to the simple, clean lines of mid century modern. I'm ready to release myself of all this stuff in my basement and house to live a more simple life.
When you are thrifting with your In Search Of (otherwise known as ISO) list, don't be teased or tempted by things that might not be the perfect fit for you. If it's cheap, give it a go but spending $350 on a couch that was in worn condition would have caused a lot of guilt for me when I realized I shouldn't have purchased it. Buying this vintage couch was kind of an investment. Even if I hated it once we brought it in the house, I probably could resell it for a few hundred dollars. Dave liked it, the children liked it and it goes perfectly with my teak side tables and funky pottery lamp.
When you are next out thrifting bring to mind all the losers you have dated and broke up with from your past. Don't bring home something that will treat you poorly or won't laugh at your funny, odd and strange humor. Think before you thrift.