A History of Thrifting

I grew up thrifting. We thrift shopped on vacation, when we visited family, on the weekends, you get the point. If I’m being totally honest here, I hated it. I am ashamed to say that I was actually embarrassed to be around people in need, not to mention cringing at the mere thought of someone I knew possibly seeing me. I thought it meant that we were poor. I was obviously not giving my mother the credit that was due for being much savvier than I knew. Little did I know, we were able to even go on vacations because she insisted that we find at least a handful of gently used school outfits for pennies on the dollar every time we took a trip. Every penny she saved by buying used meant other opportunities she and my dad were able to afford for their four daughters. That stark realization has been engrained deeply into me, so deeply that I am daily thankful for every single thing I have been blessed with.

On the flipside – my mother is also a champion shopper. (Hmm, wonder where I get that hidden talent?) The lady can shop, and buying used for pennies on the dollar takes the sting out of marathon shopping trips. It wasn’t until I found my first gem at a Colfax (Denver, Colorado) thrift store – a Pentax 35 mm Super Program camera in mint working condition – that I realized the pure genius behind this sport. I was converted at the young age of 11 years old. A new love bloomed and perpetuated into the thrill I get out of buying and selling to this day. My husband thinks it’s all humorous, but I truly can’t help that I have a knack for finding bargains, unearthing treasures from thrift piles and seeing the potential beauty in poorly constructed classified ads and fuzzy listing photos. I can spot a Patagonia sweater from across the room, a pair of Baby Gap jeans under a strewn pile of clothes, a J.Crew cashmere hoodie on a rack of 50 other similar items. It’s innate I tell ya – I fly through racks because I have memorized what quality looks like. Like my mother, I too have been able to dress my kids in my version of cute because I diligently search for bargains and use the savings to buy new when need be. I buy a lot of clothes, I don’t spend a lot of money. Don’t believe me? I keep a spreadsheet to make sure I don’t overspend just because it’s a good deal. Then I turn around and sell my spoils to buy bigger (kids) clothes. It’s a cycle that is REALLY fun for me.


Back to the point of this whole post – I am having a BALL decorating this new house. I have always had a soft spot for mid-century decor. I snagged a lovely pair of Danish Modern sitting chairs at a garage sale last summer for $6. I never really had a good place for them until we bought our new home, a mid-century atomic ranch. My pretty chairs are now right at home! My mind is going a thousand miles a minute because I feel like I have been pretending for 28 years, never really knowing what my true style was until we broached the threshold of our new home. Every piece of decoration that never had a place in our old house, is perfectly at home here – like it was meant to be.


Decorating mid-century can be outrageously expensive, I am painfully aware of this fact. Husband prefers reproduction mid-century, while I am thriving on the good old authentic pieces. I prefer old because they are hands-down better quality, he prefers new because they have warranties. Mine are pennies on the dollar, while his are thousands. Right now I’m winning this argument 🙂 Emry and I have had some serious fun at local thrift stores over the past week, perusing the aisles for anything from the atomic era. Here are my spoils from yesterday:

-Yellow embossed coffee tin. Price: Found in the free bin, couldn’t pass up the cheery hues – husband can store some K-Cups in this cutie. I can imagine a tin of this type might have graced the set of Mad Men.

-High Time Sentry Ceiling Projector Clock. In working condition, will make a great addition to my built-in bookcases amongst my Reader’s Digest Condensed Books. I am finding conflicting information about whether it was sold in 1978 or 1984. Price: $2.00


-Yellow decorative vase. I was drawn to the cheery yellow and the unique shape. I suspect it is NOT mid-century, though it’s shape is reminiscent of some decor of the era. Price: $0.50

-Panasonic FM-AM Clock Radio RC-6253. From 1974 and in working condition, I am tickled about this one because I was looking for a reproduction clock radio for our bedroom and this fits the bill for only $5.00.



I promised to unveil my deal of the day on Instagram last night. Here she is!

Tell City Chair Company Ratchet Table Lamp in #48 Andover Maple Finish

-Tell City Chair Company Ratchet Table Lamp in #48 Andover Maple Finish with original sales stickers and original burlap lamp shade. From the 1950’s. It is in PERFECT working condition. I was hard pressed to even find a nick or scratch on the base anywhere. The wood is beautiful, and the architecture is incredibly unique. The same lamp recently sold on eBay for $249.99, I purchased it for $2 wee little dollars. I was off on the price on Instagram by a few dollars – sorry about that 🙂 Others are currently listed for $399 (who knows if they will sell for that). Apparently it’s a rare piece, and it was just sitting on a lonely shelf in Hays, Kansas! Jeff wants me to sell it but I think it’s going to stick around the Baier house for a few months, quirky conversation pieces are always fun.

Tell City Chair Company Ratchet Table Lamp in #48 Andover Maple Finish Tell City Chair Company Ratchet Table Lamp in #48 Andover Maple Finish Tell City Chair Company Ratchet Table Lamp in #48 Andover Maple Finish

There you have it, $9.50 for a few great pieces and hours of fun with my mini-me. Our little excursions during little guy’s naptime have been a riot, I love spending one-on-one time with her and I hope to pass my love of thrifting down to my daughter.

Have a blessed day!



I'm a mom that loves blogging.

5 thoughts on “A History of Thrifting

    • Hehe thanks Aunt Ruth 😉 I guess I should have also mentioned that I have two Aunts that love shopping for a good bargain and beautiful house decor as well – it is definitely in my genes!!

  1. Love the ratchet lamp and the dresser. Both very beautiful pieces. Plus a free yellow tin. Super cool. I am a dumpster diver, I have found super cool treasures in the weirdest places 🙂

    • Thank you! Jeff gives me heck for dumpster diving – but I seriously don’t see a downside to it (and can sometimes make a couple of bucks when I fix things up)! I agree, some of the coolest finds are free. Happy to hear of another family member with the same interest 🙂

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