9 essentials i’m thrifting this fall

 It’s the same old story each and every autumn: the air turns crisp, leaves drop, days shorten and pumpkin spice lattes and apple orchard adventures overtake my Instagram feed. As soon as the annual chill arrives, without fail, my practically Pavlovian-style response is to run out (or hop online) and spruce up my wardrobe. And now that I’ve completed a fall closet clean-out, giving my unwanted goods to Savers, there’s actually a wee bit of room to squeeze in some new goods!

To keep me focused as I browse the thrift-store racks, I honed in on the pieces I was missing (so easy to do after a thorough closet clean-out) and inspiration, both old and new, I can’t get out of my brain. By refining my thoughts and making a list, I’ll save time when thrifting big stores like Savers and money I may have accidentally spent on items I don’t need. Below are the essentials that made the cut!

fall trends collage 1Dark florals: I feel more than a small twinge of sadness when it comes time to pack up my favorite summer florals. Fortunately, thrift-store racks boast plenty of saturated prints and I plan on sussing out at least a dress, blouse, skirt or scarf before the snow flies.

Jeans to destroy: “Oh hell no!” = my instant reaction to the prices I’ve seen on tattered denim ($148 for the pair of jeans pictured above, OMG!). I figure if I thrift a few pairs that fit  well and screw one up in the distressing process, no bigs, I’ll still be about $130 ahead.

Black denim jacket: Seeing as I wear my denim jacket four out of seven days a week, seeking out a black one seems kind of like a no-brainer. To me, a good denim jacket fits like I borrowed it from my boyfriend, so I’ll definitely be combing the men’s section at the thrifts for this.

Photos c/o: Let it Be / Nasty Gal / Free People

fall trends collage 2Midi skirts: My love of midis will not wane, so what? But truly though, what’s not to appreciate. They’re an acceptable length to wear to work, warm and, perhaps best of all, super easy to thrift. For fall, I look for wool or wool blend midis, and maybe a poly option or two.

Turtleneck sweater: Ever since elementary school, turtlenecks and I have kept our distance, but I’m feeling like this year is THE year to get over my aversion. If I can find one that’s a fun color, like the nubby Orla Kiely beauty pictured above, I’ll be in cozy town in no time.

Vests: This summer I wore two denim vests so much, it made me realize how more  belong in my closet. I love how they can introduce another texture to an outfit, plus, they’re warm! From suede to crochet, fur to wool, I know I’ll have lots of luck finding some solid options secondhand.

Photos c/o: B. Jones Style / Orly Kiely / Waiste

fall trends collage 3A bold coat: Green, black, green, black, navy. That’s my coat collection in a nutshell. This fall, I’m on the hunt for something bright and something bold. Mustard, emerald, red, baby blue, oxblood, pink…as long as it’s not black, green or navy, I’m game!

A simple shift: Solids are out of my comfort zone, but the big-haired beauty above has given me hope that I can wear a non-printed dress and not feel totally drab. If I follow in her footsteps, pairing it with some huge hair and a killer bag, this staple just might work!

A wide-brimmed hat: Turns out, I’m kind of picky about hats! Disappointed by the quality of the ones I’ve found at the mall, and reluctant to shell out for one, I’m going to keep my eyes peeled at the thrifts, shopping both the men’s and women’s departments ’til I find the perfect one.

Photos c/o: Jalouse / my tumblr / Bohemian Diesel

Are you hot on the trail of particular items this fall? Does making a checklist help keep you focused? If you’ve got any fall shopping routines or tips, I’d love to hear ’em!

xoxo,

Meghan

P.S. My friends at Savers sponsored this post; all opinions are my own.

scope it out!

 A few months back, I met with two very nice people from The Salvation Army Northern Division over lunch to discuss some ideas on how we could collaborate. (A thrilling prospect to be sure, given my long-abiding love and appreciation for Sal Val.) Lo and behold, they offered me a whole spread in Scope, their annual printed newsletter, and yesterday, a few advance copies hit my mailbox! #pinchmeplease

high plains thrifter // scope mag

Even after making the switch from print to digital publishing career-wise, it’s still a thrill to see my name is print. I’m super proud of the piece, too, which covers 10 tidbits of thrift-store shopping wisdom I’ve picked up through the years. They even ran a couple of my photos! Seriously fun stuff.

high plains thrifter // scopeScope ships out to donors across Minnesota (and North Dakota, too!) soon, and should also be available (for free!) at a Family Store location near you. Look for it!

xoxo,

Meghan

a beginner’s guide to power-hour thrifting

high plains thrifter // power hour thrifting

If I had a dollar for every time someone said to me “But I don’t have time to thrift!”, I’d be RICH. Hitting a thrift when you’re super-tight on time isn’t only doable, it can be downright fun (if you do it right). Whether you’re thrifting over your lunch break, as I commonly do, killing time before an appointment or sneaking away for an hour while the kids are at practice, here are my tried-and-true tips for maximizing your next thrift-store pop-in.

Preparation is everything.

When Roman statesman and philosopher Lucius Annaeus Seneca noted “Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity,” I doubt if he was talking about thrifting, and yet, his words ring so totally true. If you want to get lucky on your next thrift-store power-hour, you’ve gotta have your ducks in a row.

Know where you’re going.

high plains thrifter // screen grab

If you’re visiting a new-to-you thrift, make sure you map out directions and so you don’t spend your thrifting time driving around in circles. (Been there, done that!) Most thrift-store websites, Goodwill included, should be able to link you directly to Google Maps. And for goodness sakes, check to make sure the store will be open too!

Bring a list.

high plains thrifter // power-hour thrifting

Just like grocery shopping without a list can turn into a train wreck, if you don’t know what you’re looking for at the thrift, it’s practically impossible to be in-and-out in under an hour. It’s simply too overwhelming! To avoid aimless aisle wandering, I review my running list of wants before I head out. (I keep my list on my phone, since I know I’ll always have it with me, but a small notebook does the trick too.)

I’ll also scan my Crafts, Projects & Plans Pinterest board so I can see what I’ve pinned recently and might need supplies for. Finally, I try to peek at my calendar to see if there are any events or holidays I should be planning or stocking up for. Having a detailed list in hand helps me stay focused, even at at big, busy stores.

Get to it.

high plains thrifter // power-hour thrifting

List in hand, get down to business! Since I wear dresses and skirts 99.9% of the time, that’s the section where I always start. Shopping stores that are organized like Goodwill, where clothing is sorted by size, makes it so much easier to be quick and efficient!

Be realistic.

high plains thrifter // power-hour thrifting

A thrift-store power-hour is not the time to:
-try clothes on
-check to see if electronics work
-dig through bargain bins
-read book jackets
-flip through piles of vinyl
-bid on silent auction items
-buy furniture (unless the store policy allows them to hold it for you so you can haul it home)

Go with your gut.

high plains thrifter // power-hour thrifting

Sometimes an item will present itself to you that you simply have to have. For example, a wicker serving tray wasn’t on my wish list, but when I saw this one, a fun makeover idea for it sprung to mind, and so I snapped it up. To avoid (impulse) buyer’s remorse, set a dollar-amount cap for spontaneous purchases. (Mine’s $10, for what it’s worth.) You can always come back tomorrow, you know?

It’s OK if you don’t find anything.

DSC_7513

Leaving a store empty-handed does not make your trip a failure! Being “lucky” in thrifting requires persistence and patience, and sometimes, it’s just not in the cards. Do not waste your money buying something just for the sake of “making your trip worthwhile.” You know it’ll just wind up adding clutter to your home, closet or bookshelf!

Armed with these tips, I hope you feel more ready to hit the thrifts, even if all the time you have is just one hour. If you have any go-to tips for thrift-store shopping on a tight timeline, please share ’em in the comments section so we can learn from each other’s wisdom!

xoxo,

Meghan

P.S. A version of this post first appeared on the Goodwill/Easter Seals of Minnesota blog.

Photos c/o: Julia McMahon, LB Jeffries Photography

how to: thrift for records

This past July, my forever-long wish to own a stereo was granted. And ever since, I’ve been obsessed with hunting for records. Like anything else, looking for records at thrift stores, garage and estate sales can be a crap shoot. And an overwhelming one at that! Here are some super basic things I keep in mind when I’m out and about.

Before you you get your heart set on a specific record, check the condition of it first. See deep scratches, scuff marks, chips, cracks or gouges? Skip it. And be sure to inspect both sides too!

Make sure the record isn’t warped. (Warped records = distorted sound.) The easiest way to check is to hold the record up at eye level.

This is a total no-brainer, but while you have the record out, make sure that it matches the jacket. How sad would it be to go home thinking you’d found a rare Kitty Wells record, only to discover some crappy Billy Joel album inside.

Keep a running list of what you’re looking for. I have a friend who keeps her record wish list on Pinterest, I personally keep a running list in my notes on my phone. Either way, just like thrifting for clothes, I find it helpful to keep tabs of what I’m hunting for.

Take a chance! If you come across an intriguing cover, artist or song, and the record’s in good shape, where’s the harm in taking it home for a listen? I picked “Mustang Jazz,” a recording of the Southern Methodist University Marching Band out of a $1 bin at a record fair last month and it pumps me up every time I listen to it!

And last but not least, it’s OK to thrift records just because you like the cover art! Inspired by this Easy Record Cover Art DIY I spotted over the summer, I painted over a pin-up-y instrumental album cover. It sits on my vanity now and I love looking at it when I get ready each morning.

Some other good resources for learning more about thrifting records:
Thrift Store Vinyl: “Listening to used records so you don’t have to.”
The Thrift Store Record Collector: “Collecting records the cheap way.”
How to Clean Old Records

Do you have any tips for thrifting records you want to share? If so, let us hear ’em down below in comments!

xoxo,

Meghan

guest post: thrifting with kids–tips & tricks from moms

This past Memorial Day, Mary and I went on a thrifting binge, and at it seemed like at every (crowded) store we stopped at, we encountered children of all ages in various stages of meltdown-dom: Some were crying, others were screaming, a few were in full-out tantrum mode.

After my headache subsided, I started thinking…how on earth can you keep your sanity as a thrifting-loving mama?

So, I called on some experts: Mom pals of mine who love to thrift, rummage and flea. As a non-mom, I loved hearing what works for them, and have definitely filed away some ideas for (way far away) future use. For the lovely mamas out there reading, I hope you find their tips helpful!

Thrifty Mama #1: Andrea

In addition to being a treasured friend, my girl Andrea is as close to a domestic Wonder Woman as you can get. Besides being an amazing cook, her beautiful home is full of sweet vintage finds; spoils from her many jaunts to the flea market with her man, Jason, and their five-year-old Hank. Here are some of her tips…

Start ’em young: We bring (and when he was younger, brought) Hank everywhere; thrifting, antiquing and in the summer, to flea markets almost every weekend. “Don’t touch!” was something he learned at a very, very young age!

Bribery works: Find something your kids enjoy getting and use that as a reward. We can get Hank to do almost anything for a toy car, and flea markets and thrift stores are loaded with them. If he behaves, he knows he can pick out a few and that works like a charm for us. Thrift stores also have a lot of kid’s books, so he looks through those while he’s in the cart, giving us time to look around. Now that he’s older, and starting collections of his own, it’s really fun watch his vintage collection grow, and seeing what oddities he picks out.

Keep ’em comfy: We like to go to flea markets pretty early in the morning on the weekends and sometimes Hank doesn’t want to go just because he’s tired. We found if we bring along his wagon, so he doesn’t have to walk, he’s much more apt to want to come along…willingly!

Know your child: When they’re young it’s easier to lug them around everywhere in their carrier, but as they get older, you have to work around their nap schedule and moodiness. You can sometimes coax them into going, but there are days they just want to be at home. The more fun you make it and the more often you go, the more they’ll enjoy it.

Mom #2: Kara, Golden Age Design

My mom took us garage sale-ing every Thursday growing up—I remember peering out the hot backseat of the car, looking for…who knows what! From a young age, she instilled in me the wisdom that things don’t have to be new to be special. Now I have my own munchkin and he not only has one parent who has a passion for vintage, but two! (Poor guy.) The most important thing I’ve learned is if my little man isn’t happy, no one is happy, so I’ve come up with some ways to make the thrifting experience enjoyable for all.

Snacks! A hungry kid usually isn’t a gas to be around, so I make sure I have plenty of yummy goodies stashed in my purse. Some favorites? GoGo Squeeze Applesauce (best invention EVER), Annie’s Bunny Fruit Snacks, Cliff Fruit Twists, organic baby carrots and a good ole standby, raisins. If we need to each lunch on the road, Subway is a good place to stop. Whole wheat bread, veggies, milk and apples make a thrifting mom rest a little easier.

Entertainment! The iPhone has been life-changing. There are so many great educational apps sure to impress your little one. I have a 2.5 yo and here are his favorite games: Tozzle, LunchBox, BabyFirst. Another way I keep him content is bee-lining for the toy section at the thrift store. I let him pick out a toy he gets to play with while we’re there and he’s usually thrilled. (I always keep Wet Wipes in my purse to give his selection a little bath before he gets his paws on it.) Also, before I go out for the day, I make sure the car is plum full of toys and books. We listen to the Current and do lots of car dancing. Keeping the car ride light and fun, especially if you’re garage sale-ing and making lots of in and out stops, is key.

Essential Gear! (1) Sunglasses. For some reason L thinks it’s really cool to wear his while mom and dad are wearing theirs. (2) Layers. The day can easily turn from 65° to 85° without much warning. Keeping kids cool + comfortable is always a plus. (3) Our BOB jogging stroller has been a life saver when we’ve hit the flea markets. It’s easy to maneuver, L is comfy in it and you can hang bags on it. Win, win, win.

Mom #3: Mary Beth, Top Drawer Vintage

One of my favorite activities, pre and post-parenthood, has been thrifting! I could go on and on with reasons why I love thrifting, but I’d rather give you some tips I’ve learned about shopping with my 15-month-old son, David.

My #1 Rule: Don’t set your kids up to fail! Work around your child’s schedule and take them out when they have a full tummy and are well rested. If nap time is at 1:30, thrifting anytime after 12:30 seems like a rotten way to spend a wind down.

Include your kids in your thrifting experience: Point out all the different items, colors, price tags! Let them understand why it makes you happy and why it is exciting. Help your kids learn from their time out of the house and interact with them so they can not only just be your shopping buddy, but a fun experience you can have together.

Timing is everything: I prefer shopping in the morning because that’s when I have the largest chunk of time, but that can vary day-to-day. (Going in the morning also allows me to take advantage of the slow times at the thrifts.) By the time David gets up from his afternoon nap around 4 p.m., we have a smaller window before it is dinner time. After David’s afternoon nap is a perfect time for a walk—possibly to a garage sale? (When we garage sale I often go on Thursday mornings to avoid the rush of the weekend.)

Are you a thrifty mama? If so, what are some of your secrets to success?

xo,
Meghan