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The Age Of Personal Curation

No you're not crazy! Thrift and consignment stores ARE popping up everywhere. 

The Stigma of "Pre-owned" Has Vanished. 



With over half the population finally starting the purging process, billions of square feet of self-storage is starting to be emptied, as Americans begin to shift their thinking.  With “quality of life” becoming the more central priority, the tonnage of stuff form old impulse-driven lives continues to flood the market.  While other's discards my no longer apply to their downsized life, they very well may apply to your new RightSIZED life.  Wait, better quality for far less, one-of-a-kind treasures for the discerning curator who’s creating an eclectic, signature lifestyle that adds nothing to the ecologic footprint…What’s not to like?  The more the concept of “intentional living” becomes the new chic, “thrift” starts to take on a whole new meaning. All I can say is,"Conventional retailers, watch out!"  


So what's the difference between a consignment shop, a thrift shop and an antiques shop? 




Single consignment store:  

Consignment stores offer merchandise from a variety of different private sources.  Usually, items have been curated by the owner of the shop.  In most cases, these kind of stores are well displayed and have a specific point of view.


These are often the haunts of local decorators too.  While everything is usually marked, prices aren't "fixed" so if you see something you just have to have, ask the owner if they can do better.  They will usually call the client then and there, to see if the owner will offer a better price.  They usually do.  So don't be afraid to ask!  The shopkeeper expects it.  


Time Stamped Consignment Store:


I call these shops "time stamped" because the prices are determined by how long the item has been in the store.  You can tell simply by looking at the price tags.  Usually you'll see the original price then several dates indicating how long the item has been in the store and when, according to the date, the price will drop.  So, the longer it's there, the cheaper it gets!  I often ask the shopkeeper to let me know when the price his hit "bottom." But I don't ask unless I frequent the store at least once every few months so they know I'm a regular buyer.  Which brings up another really good point.  The more you visit, the better your deals because you've forged a relationship.  The relationship is not usually predicated on how much you actually buy, but how fun you are to interact with.  


Stall (mall) Stores:


These are usually large warehouse style stores broken down into many individual stalls rented by individual vendors who pay to show their wares.  Here an attempt is made to display, for the most part.  Often the word "antique" is used but not necessarily accurate.  There is often a grave difference between "antique" and just plain "old."   So, don't be fooled.  You will also see many stalls devoted to "collectables."  That too is in the eye of the beholder.  Just decide if you're willing to pay the price or not, because it's usually fixed since most stall owners are rarely there.  


Donation Speciality ("Charity") Thrift Store:  


Donation thrift stores like Re-Store (by Habitat For Humanity) are run differently than a single stand- alone thrift store.  That's because it's staffed and run like any other big business. Over the years, they've gotten a bit more decerning about what they sell.  Especially Re-Store.  They are clearly more into the business end and are usually savvy about what the market will bare for their goods. That's good news and bad news.  Items can sometimes be over-priced depending on the demographic of the area.  They justify it by reminding patrons that it all goes to charity and worthy causes.  And it does.  If you can afford to support their causes, great.  If not, you're better going to other places.  The key here is to do your homework.  Know what the retail price is and when in the store, google it (or something similar) so you don't pay more than you can afford. 

Donation Mass Market ("Charity") Thrift Store:

These are stores like Goodwill, that are generally religious based with the true intent to service the more budget challenged. They often bare the biggest stigma and a lot of folks are uncomfortable shopping there, not wanting to be thought of as "impoverished."   This is, of course, stupid and elitist.  Charity is charity! Nevertheless, most items there are extremely reasonable IF you have a good eye and can see the gem amidst the clutter.  I visit ALL the time and have managed to fill an entire sideboard with chic white ware which, at Williams Sonoma would be $35 per plate but there, it's usually 1-2 dollars, if that!  Here the prices are fixed and it is what it is.  



Antique Stores:

I have a love hate attitude with stores that use the word "antique" especially if you're living inland vs on the coasts.   That term is purely subjective and in most cases, these stores (as I've already said) have very few historically accurate antiques worth their price tags.  But then sometimes the word "antique" is simply there to draw you in and basically means that most the merchandise is traditionally old.  But often there's a big difference between "Old" and Antique.  Forgive me, my father's side of the family were all in the real antiques business dealing with museum worthy items that had to be very well researched.  True antiques are as much of an investment as fine art.  So I don't think that a rusty milk can should be classified or priced in the same category. So the good news is to not be intimidated to go into an average antique place. Many times, it's full of everything, mostly from estates where they take as much junk as that do the prized items.  

Flea Markets:

In most cases, a lot of antique stores (see above) are basically flea markets. A good flee market is one where the organization sets the standards.  No newer junk (mattresses, used electronics or basic household utility items).  Here again there's a vast difference between a Flea market and a rummage yard sale.  Prices are negotiable and the selection varies.  Flea markets are a great place to find treasurers that you're willing to add your own touch too.  The crowds are generally do-it-yourselfers and in many cases the flee markets that are annual events vs every weekend, are the better curated.      




Some of my own finds:

Click on the images below to get the skinny on my amazing shopping SCORES!   

This blog will get you set up to actually shop and navagate the stores themselves  

This blog will give you more of a context of the industry itself and why it's growing   

This blog is about one of my favorite 

purveyors and one of our shopping trips. 

A few Blogs on the topic 

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