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Virtual Thrift Shopping Tips

April 23, 2013

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Five Fabulous Tips For Online Shopping

It was love at first sight. We'd lived in the neighborhood, almost directly across the street from the house, for about seven years. Each night we would pack the kids into the stroller and head out for a walk.  

We always lingered just a bit too long at the corner, eyeing the property, peeking into the backyard, hypothesizing what the inside might hold, talking about what it might look like, if it were ours. A fantasy for sure...

Then, one day we were told that the house was for sale.  

We called the owner immediately, made an offer as soon as the polite conversation took a pause and it was ours without any hesitation.

The inside was perfect - almost totally original, great bones, but in need of a lot of work. All of which was fine, because my husband is a do-it-yourself kind of guy and I am a not-willing-to-settle kind of girl. So this place was ideal, we could make it exactly what we wanted and we were super excited to get started.

When the construction dust finally settled, I couldn't wait to get busy with the fun stuff, the stuff that really transforms a house into a home, the decorating! Unfortunately, after the extensive renovations required to bring a turn of the century summer cottage into a modern, year round home, there wasn't a whole lot left in the kitty for fun.

Now normally I wouldn't mind that. I am drawn to very unique pieces, I like to craft, thrift and refurbish and above all, I love a bargain!

There's something about the thrill of the hunt, the unexpected treasure that may be unearthed or the potential a piece could hold that thrills me, but it was winter in our little town, so my usual garage sale solution was not going to be an option.

I checked out the local thrift and antique stores, but there wasn't a rapid turnover in merchandise, so it got very boring, very fast.

That is when I turned to eBay. It was this relatively new site where Santa Claus had scored a sell out toy. Could there be other items besides toys for sale?

A rock maple end table to match my antique bedroom set...score ~$20!
I logged on to see and I was hooked. I became an eBay junkie. It was so much fun, I could shop at anytime of the day or night. I could search for anything from hurricane glass to wooden oars and all of it for rock bottom prices, if I could outbid the competition.

And so I did. In fact, I became a pro at the bidding game, winning just about everything I wanted and my house is so much the prettier for it!

Of course, today eBay is a mainstream shopping destination. In fact, I have purchased everything from custom-made theatrical ball gowns during my costuming days to chemicals for our pool from the site, but my favorites are still those unique second hand treasures.

Since then I have expanded my searches to Etsy, although I think they are little pricey sometimes.

Here are just a few of my favorite pieces from Ebay:


One of a pair of gorgeous watercolor paintings I picked up for $5.00.  I matted and framed them both for under $20.00.  The tin roof birdhouse and its yellow twin were a dollar each. They look perfect next to our DIY birdhouse lamp

My rustic wooden pig family was $2.00. They sit over the entryway to my kitchen. They are sweet and direct the eye upward (away from the mess that is usually on the kitchen floor!).

I love my Homemade Cookies wooden doll sign. She was less than $5.00 and she is always smiling at me, day or night, rain or shine, even when I don't smile back at her-although I really do try. A greeting like that is certainly worth a whole lot more!

My hand painted Flower Market sign was $14.00, the focal point in my family room.  I actually feel guilty about this one, it should have been a lot more. It is truly exquisite.

If you are still not familiar with eBay, or not used to shopping for anything other than cell phone accessories there, I highly recommend a look around.  You never know what you might find!  If you are an eBay shopper I would love to hear about your favorite finds!

Quick eBay Shopping Tips:

*Read the item description very carefully and then read it again. Check the specifics regarding measurements, materials, condition. Pictures can be deceiving.

*Investigate the seller. Check feedback scores, return policies and shipping prices. I NEVER pay shipping charges. 

*Shop around. Once you have found your desired item, put it in your cart and then look at other vendors selling the same me, very few items are one of a kind. 

*When in doubt, ask the seller a question. 

*Take advantage of the "Buy it Now" feature, it alleviates the need for bidding and waiting a week or more for your item.

What are your online thrifting tips?

Kim Signature

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  1. Your decorating is beautiful but it wouldn't go over too well in my house full of guys!

    1. Yes Jen, I can see how Flower Markets and Cookie Dolls wouldn't be a big draw! The garage is pretty rough, power tools, a kayak, maybe I'll do a post on that next!

    2. I love the homemade cookies decoration. Did you make that or buy it and where? Thanks

    3. Hi! I did get that homemade cookies girl online, it was an Ebay auction years ago. It was someone's treasure and they were unloading it. I did just look on Ebay though and found two listed.
      Hope that helps!! :)

  2. Great ideas, thanks for the tips!

    1. So happy you found the information useful. Thanks for the comment!

  3. Wow who knew ebay could be so much fun!

  4. Awesome finds! Would have never thought to turn to Ebay for thrifting! Thanks for sharing at Give Me The Goods Monday! Can't wait to see what you bring next week! Jenna @ Rain on a Tin Roof

    1. I have found a lot of great stuff and many of the local thrift stores have a presence online, so I feel like I am still contributing to something worthwhile. Thanks for popping by!