Thrift & Consignment Shops
Thrift Shops are often run by a church or other organization such as the Goodwill or Salvation Army. Their merchandise has been donated so it is usually very cheap and very eclectic. You need to go back frequently because you never know when the thing you need or want most will come in. My best thrift shop buy was an almost complete set of stainless steel flatware (place setting for 8) for a dollar! After receiving a better set (setting for 12 with serving pieces) I sold it at a yard sale for 3 dollars and the woman who bought it couldn't believe she was getting such a bargain!
Consignment Shops operate in a different way. They sell articles for other people and keep a share of the money. This means that their prices are not as low as thrift shops but the quality is more consistent because they are pickier about what they will accept from the sellers.
From Lynn Lukins: My husband and I were looking for new bedroom furniture last year. We had and then bought some used older furniture (solid wood). It was all mismatched--we had a chest and bed given to us from relatives, but had to buy a dresser and mirror. We found an older Dixie dresser at a used furniture store (we put our name on a "wish list") and happened to ask if the store owner had any mirrors. He happened to have a beautiful wooden-framed mirror that went with another set but had broken, so he couldn't sell it. We got both pieces for $70 total. We stripped all pieces and refinished them, replaced the handles on the chest and dresser so they matched, and now we have a beautiful, high quality bedroom set for a total of about $150 (including the $70 for dresser and mirror, a replacement mirror, and the knobs and supplies). This set is nicer than anything we could have bought for even $700 or $800.
These great ideas for furnishing a game or activity room come from "Hiiquality": Recently my husband decided that he was going to turn our upstairs storage room into his very own "kick back" room. To him the definition of this room is "a room with an old couch, a tv, a microwave, fridge, etc." He wanted a bar with a stool and I found one at a moving sale that had a few dings for 10 bucks. I looked around for Coors, Bud and other type of beer mirrors and misc. items. I actually found a place that gave me everything I was looking for......FREE! It was our local drug store! I didn't think that they would have such items until I was in the store one day and I saw a Budweiser display...an inflated football that said "Bud" on it. I asked the store manager if he knew where I could get things like that and he said, "Actually, when we don't need these things anymore, we throw them away....you are welcome to leave your name and number and we will call you when we have anything." I was so surprised! I ended up getting 3 huge, framed mirrors with beer names on them. I also got a large, inflatable football player! We couldn't fit that in the room so I tied it to the end of our dock and it floated in the lake. Our neighbors thought it was the funniest thing. They also gave me a big red cart with wheels that said "King of Beers" on the sides. The shelves are removable and adjustable! My husband uses it as a microwave cart. I bought a used microwave for 5 bucks at a yard sale...and at the same sale found a nice cushy couch for 10 bucks. We already had an extra tv, but where was I going to get an extra refrigerator? I asked a few friends and one said that a good place to look is at college apartments. I thought it would be kind of weird to find a fridge at a college apartment building, but I tried it anyway.......I actually found a VCR. I hooked that up and it worked great but I still couldn't find a fridge. I never even thought of looking in the paper but when I did I found a free one that was the perfect size! So, for a total of approximately 25 bucks I got everything I needed!
Here's a tip from Jennie Pipkin for a way to frugally attain the "shabby chic" look: I absolutely love the shabby chic look. It's a simple elegance that comes on a frugal budget. It is composed of faded florals and laundered linen. To accomodate my frugal budget, and the shabby chic look, I bought a long dress from the local thrift center, the fabric was a faded floral pattern, I cut the skirt from the top, cut down both seams, and made a hem at the top for a curtain rod, the easiest curtains I ever made, and they already had a 6 inch ruffle at the bottom. As an added bonus, There were 2 darling pockets on the skirt that I unpicked, and overlapped then sewed onto a plain piece of white fabric, then sewed two strips of matching fabric to the back. I then tied the strips of fabric into a bow, and hung the pockets from the bow on a nail in my bathroom, and had an instant toothbrush, etc. holder. There are several things you can do with faded fabrics, and you can get them at your local thrift store!
An unidentified frugalista sent these ideas about auctions (which are a little different from thrift and consignment shops but this seemed as good a place as any to include them): Look for local auctions in your newspapers or on the web. Some of these auctions have really nice things and if the auction is an "absolute auction" meaning that everything has to be sold regardless of how low it sells for you can get some great buys. I have purchased so many great bargains at auctions that I have too many to list but the most recent buy was an entire box of silverplate. My daughter is always borrowing mine and so when a box came up with about 8 platters, gravy boat, 3 bread trays, 2 casserole servers and 4 bowls, I bid on it. I only paid $15.00 for the whole box!!! All of the pieces were pretty black but with a little elbow grease all of the pieces are now sparkling. Only 2 of the pieces were unsuitable for serving due to permanent spots that wouldn't come off. Those 2 pieces will go in my next yard sale. She now has almost as much silver as I do and I made silver bags from the silver cloth I purchased at the fabric store. Only a couple of yards was needed and it also saved tons of money. You don't have to buy the expensive premade bags from the store. All polished and stored properly they are always ready when she needs them.