I love to go junking/thrifting. I used to go with my grandma and aunts when I was little and I consider myself a seasoned veteran in “flea market speak”. When the weather warms up, I always hit the highway to look for the best flea markets/junk stores and thrift shops around Kentucky. I have managed to furnish nearly my entire home with thrift or junk store finds. This includes furniture, paintings/art/pictures, bedding (yes, bedding), and even odds and ends for the outside.
You can honestly find just about anything you need for a fraction of the price, if you know what you’re doing, what to look for, and how to go about junking. People ask me a lot how I find the things that I find. I have one simple rule I always tells folks, the cardinal rule (for me) of thrifting or junking is this:
Take your time and bring the right tools, an open mind, and a large vehicle.
Seriously, that’s all you need. But in case that little tweak doesn’t entirely work, here’s some more tips and tricks that I use to always find what I want and get the most from my thrifting experience.
1: Do your research.
Before I go anywhere, I try to learn a bit about the business before-hand. Knowing the type of merchandise the place has, and who the owner is is actually a big deal. I have managed to establish good relationships with a number of thrift/junk store owners and if they come across a piece they think I’ll like, usually they will save it for me or put it on hold. It’s always nice to have an inside connection. It is also a plus if you are able to scour their social media sites (if they have them) to see new merchandise. Many times, I’ve asked people to put things on hold for me.
2: Take a large vehicle.
You definitely want to take a large vehicle, just to be safe. What if you find a piece of large furniture that is such a great deal, you just can’t pass up. BUT, you drove a two-seater car. Be safe and take a larger truck or SUV just to be sure. I have been out and bought boxes of dishes, pots for flowers, antique chairs and an antique recliner for 30 bucks at an opportunity store…..better safe than sorry.
3: Don’t be afraid to get dirty, and always bring hand sanitizer.
You will probably be getting your hands dirty or dusty if you go to a junk store. Some of the ones I’ve been to have had dirt floors even, and those are the best. Don’t be afraid to roll up your sleeves and dust off hand panted planters or vintage jewelry. You may find a piece of McCoy, Hull or Rosewood….or maybe even an antique piece of Weiss costume jewelry.
If you buy any type of upholstery, I also recommend bringing (at the very least) some Lysol spray because no one wants bed bugs or any other type of crud. Always thoroughly clean any type of fabric before you put it inside your home.
4: Know what you’re looking for before you head out.
Make the best use of your time by knowing what you want before you go. If you want furniture, you can rule out any store that doesn’t have furniture. If you want jewelry or clothing, you can better gauge what shops you want to check out. It will just save you more time and energy if you are looking for something specific.
5: Learn the art of the “haggle”.
Learn how to haggle. Most people who own thrift stores or junk stores will work with you. Make an offer on something, all they can say is no! It doesn’t hurt to try. More times than none they just will be happy someone wants to buy it!
6: Don’t waste your time on antique shops unless you’re willing to pay antique shop prices.
I always steer clear of antique shops that are truly antique shops. They are wonderful to go in and browse, but I know I can usually never afford anything they have. Antique stores know what they have is valuable stuff, and much of it is very expensive. At least at a junk store you can buy it cheap and fix it up yourself, which is what most people do.
7: Don’t be afraid to buy something that is damaged.
If you find a piece of furniture that is a great price but has a minor flaw in it, don’t be afraid to purchase it. Many of those little glitches can be fixed. I have purchased dressers with chips that were fixed with a new stain. I have bought chairs with bottoms missing and had them re-finished for nothing. I have bought jewelry that I love that I’ve had to replace a clasp. If you love it, there’s a way to fix it.
8: Have fun!
I always say there is no wasted day when you’re thrifting. Many times, my husband and I will just hit the open road and enjoy the weather and each other. It doesn’t matter to us if we find a gold mine or nothing at all. There is something interesting and refreshing in going through old records, and delving elbow deep in crates of old dishes with someone. Enjoy it. Have fun sifting through old ratty clothes, and just go with it! Part of the intrigue is never knowing what you’ll find, and where your adventure will take you!
Below I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite “thrift/junk stores!
*Oven Fork Merchantile in Oven Fork Ky.
*PJ’s Attic, Hazard Ky.
*Asbury’s in Hazard Ky.
*NU2U (contains upscale things as well as antiques. Wide variety!) Hazard Ky.
*Hazard & Jackson Mountain Mission, Hazard & Jackson Ky.
*FoxHouse Vintage in Lexington Ky.
The Scavenger Hunt in London Ky.