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Be thrifty when shopping

Let's face it: Whether we're talking flea markets, auction sales or secondhand stores, everyone loves a bargain. Add in the current economy, and thrift shopping bargains become even more appealing.


Shopping for bargains can be inspiring and fun; for some, it can be a bit overwhelming. Over the years, I have found many interesting accessories for my home. Here are some quick tips on how to find hidden treasures.

Keep an open mind
First and foremost, start your shopping adventure with an open mind, and don’t go hunting for a specific item. The best things are always found when you are not looking for them. Just think about when you are shopping for a dress for a special occasion: You seem to find it not when you are shopping for it, but when you least expect to. The same applies to shopping in secondhand shops. Just walk in and let yourself be inspired. You will most likely find something that is unexpected, beautiful and just right. Don't go with a shopping list of items to find.

Use your creative mind's eye to visualise the hidden potential of the item. How would it look refinished? Painted? With the legs cut down? Can it be a planter or a wall decoration? Will it look great in the living room beside the sofa or on your back patio near the door? Train your eye to see what it can be, rather than what it is. Then, assess the estimated cost of supplies for repair and your creative work to determine if the result will still be worth it.





Look beyond the obvious
Secondhand shops, auction sales and pawn shops are great places to flex your creative muscles. When shopping, don’t think only about the function the objects were originally intended to perform. Instead, think about how you can repurpose the item and redefine its function for you and your home. For example, interesting vases can be grouped together as sculptures to create a charming vignette.

Old wooden boxes can be used as planters to display dried or silk flowers or even moss for a more contemporary look. An old scale can be used to hold fresh fruit in your kitchen, and crystals from a broken or used chandelier can be strung and used as a necklace. There are so many possibilities. Let your imagination run wild!

Negotiate the price
Remember that you can usually negotiate prices. If something is priced beyond your budget, talk to the owner and inquire how low she is willing to go on the price, then make her an offer. Keep in mind, though, that many vendors don’t take a very large mark-up, so be fair. Bringing cash also makes negotiating easier.

Take your time
I always end up finding things I otherwise would have missed when I take my time. There’s a lot to see and sort through, so don’t rush the experience. And my most important tip of all: Remember that “the hunt” is almost as much fun as bringing home something that you love.

Online and offline bargains
While I'm not normally one to do my bargain hunting online, I have picked up quite a few pieces in this way. Start off with Craig List (Joburg or Cape Town), then head on over to Bid or Buy or the various other classified websites. Set aside plenty of time for browsing as all these lists are pretty extensive.

Your local newspaper will also have plenty of options, with information on auction sales, classifieds and flea markets Although the online versions of most major newspapers have listings, the most complete listings are usually found in your newspaper's classified section. It's a jungle out there! All the big cats stalk their prey (of tagged items), come in for the kill (on the prime choices), pounce (to be first to grab it) and then drag the prize home for the family to enjoy. Ahhh, the thrill of the hunt! Ahhh, the satisfaction of thrifty decorating! Go ahead... Let the fun begin.