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National Thrift Shop Day Finds

August 22, 2023

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Did you know that August 17th is National Thrift Shop Day?

Yeah, neither did I. I mean isn't every day National Thrift Shopping Day? No? Well, it should be.

All kidding aside, once I was made aware of this fun fact, I was all about celebrating.

You know, doing my part to increase awareness.

National Thrift Store Day August 17

So over the past week or so, I made several trips to thrift stores in my area.

Showing support and spreading a little cash to these worthy non-profits.

Well, two of my favorites anyway.

One is in my church's attic. It's tiny, but it always has some very interesting items.

Lots of vintage and most are in great condition.

The merchandise falls somewhere between what you would expect in a church thrift store and an antique shop.

The other is more of a true second hand store.

The prices are low, low, low, but most items need a lot of help.

Which is great, since turning thrift store trash into decor treasure is one of my favorite pastimes.


Toastmaster Vintage Hospitality Tray

Sometimes I find something I just know will look fabulous with a makeover...until I do a little research about its history. And then I don't have the heart to touch it.

This tray is that kind of item.

You see, I had planned to show you another pretty tray makeover.

Until yesterday, when I turned it over, to find out that it was actually an antique, most likely from the 1940s.

Granted, my $2.00 tray was in terrible condition, but still.

I know some people go crazy when you mention you've painted over old wood furniture, but that doesn't usually bother me, especially if it's on its way to the dump. It's better being used in my home.

Somehow though, painting over this felt different. It's a verifiable artifact.

Toastmaster Hospitality Tray

It's a small piece of history and while, I'll never sell it, it's probably not really worth more than the two bucks I paid for it, and I have no idea who might even want it in the future, that's not really the point.

So I find myself stuck in limbo and I'm not sure what's best.

That's when I decided to crowd source and leave its fate in your hands.

Should I Paint Over An Antique Thrift Find? Text over vintage wooden tray

What do you think I should do with it? Give it a complete makeover with with the works? Or should I try to clean it up a bit and use it in my home as is?

I'm all ears.

Recent Thrift Store Finds

In the meantime, while I wait for your answers, I figured I'd share what else I found on my thrifting journey.

Let's start with the pricier church shop finds.

This very large, wood like cake platter was $4.00 and I almost left without it. There were some cracks on the top, so it needed a makeover and I thought the price was a little much for its condition.

Clearly, I changed my mind.

If you pop by on Friday, I'll be sharing that DIY. I have to say, it came out better expected.

Thrifted Cake Platter

Next up, I found these rectangular frames. Red and blue, $3.00 each. They're bigger than they look at 15 inches long. They'll both be getting a new look, as well. 

I think I'm going to hang them in my hallway, horizontally, over one of my mirrors for a pop.

Thrifted Frames Red and Blue

This silver plated metal pedestal planter was a splurge at $10. In all honestly, it wasn't a recent purchase, but one I don't believe I've ever shared before.

Silver Pedestal Planter

In fact, I'd forgotten all about it. I never even took it out of the bag it came home in until this weekend.

It's kind of banged up, but very heavy. I'm trying to decide if it needs a coat of spray paint to shine it up or if I should just enjoy its aged patina.

The next two finds were ticketed unusually low for this shop.

My little green glass vase is perfect as is, sitting in my family room. For $2.00 if was a no brainer. I had to have it.

Green Glass Vase and White Ceramic Planter

Believe it or not the very large white planter behind it was also $2.00. Thrift pricing is so odd sometimes, isn't it? 

Who decides what each item is worth? I understand if you have vintage or name brand pieces, but more often than not, it just seem arbitrary to me. 

Ah well, it is what it is and I keep buying so I guess they know what they're doing! 

Moving onto my finds from the next shop, overall less expensive.

For instance, this is another metal pedestal planter, very similar in shape, size and condition to the silver looking one above.

Except this was only a dollar.

Large Metal Pedestal Planter

Larger than it looks in the picture, it's 10 inches across and almost 7 inches high. Bigger than the silver colored metal one, but just as heavy.

Another inexplicable disparity in price.

Thrift Store Metal Urn Prices

I'm not complaining though. It's still better than buying retail and certainly much more interesting.

Look what I found for $5.00. This antique, solid wood mirror in perfect condition. 

After I stole the plastic mirror that I made over to look like wood and placed it in the family room, the stenciled bathroom wall was bare. I couldn't find the right size, shape or style mirror to fit.

Antique Wooden Mirror With Decorative Top

This one was perfect for the space and at a bargain price, it was a gift. A major score.

Are you ready to move on to Christmas? I hope so because this inexpensive shop has holiday items displayed all year long. 

And I found two sleds.

A small one for $3.00.

Festive Flyer Christmas Sled

And a smaller one for $2.00. Frankly, in my opinion, the smaller one should've been a dollar, but it had some good picks on it, so I said ok and it hopped into my arms.

Tiny Thrifted Christmas Sled

Besides, I kind of a have a small sled addiction.

I've painted a sled, decoupaged a sled and ever covered a sled with fabric. I have no idea what I'm doing with these two, but I have a few months to ponder.

The last item I found was my favorite. I think I may have manifested its existence in the shop. It's a long, wooden village and it was only $2.00.

For years I've been in love with this Christmas village, but every time I've gone to buy it, it's either out of stock. Or I come to my senses. It's not cheap.

Then this year right before I checked out, I thought, I could, make something like that. I just need a few wooden houses.

Small Wooden Houses or Village Sign

This is obviously not the same, but I think I could get a look that's very similar for far, far less.

Over $100 less.

Which will leave me with more money for next year's National Thrift Shop Day.

Or more likely, lots of days in between.


Are you a thrift store shopper?

Oh...and don't forget, let me know what you think I should do with the tray! I'm counting on the help.

Here are a few more thrifting finds:

Happy Thrifting, Friends!
Kim Signature

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  1. My two cents on the tray. I would probably paint top and sides (upper and lower) and leave the bottom plain so you still had the history behind it. Then it would fit in wherever you wanted to use it. The last 'row of houses'...I used to cut those out and paint them and sell them at art fairs-although I know yours is the company brand one. But- over the door way of the house I would paint a little plaque with a name on it...or leave it blank for someone to personalize...and screw hooks into the base of the house so people could use them for Christmas stocking hangers if the wanted. The hardware/hooks/etc. came in an attached baggie in case they didn't want to use it for that purpose. I had one left and gave it to my daughter a few years ago. Love everything you found! xo Diana

    1. You are a wealth of wonderful ideas, Diana!! Thank you for sharing them all with me. I will definitely leave the bottom unpainted so the history will travel with it. The houses on earth did you cut those houses out? It seems like you'd need a hefty power saw, but also be able to carve out some intricate detail. It seems very technical and artistic all in one. Of course, I'm not shocked, every time we chat you reveal another hidden talent from your past lives!! Is there anything you haven't done?? 🥰

  2. I'm always so jealous when I see posts and videos about thrift shopping in the US. We just don't have that here in New Zealand. Our thrift stores are full of junk, although having said that, I have very occasionally found a great piece but usually at a high price.

    As for the tray, I would paint it but that's just me. The wood tone doesn't really work in my house but I feel that it could in yours. I'll be interested to know what you decide.

    1. Thanks for the input, Carol! I am leaning towards a modified makeover so I can keep some of the wood, even if it's just on the back. I'm sorry you don't have any good thrift stores in New Zealand, but honestly, I'd swap you all my local shops for a bit of your climate and lovely blue water!!

  3. Well - this is a holiday meant for you! Glad you did your part! :)
    I like your finds and am very interested to see what you do with that village. I like your inspiration piece, so I know what you come up with will be good.
    As for the tray, I think you need to do something to it, or you won't use it and then it's worth nothing. I'll be interested in that too.
    PS - I'm working on a project you inspired, using decals! When it's done, I'll share. :)

    1. Haha! It really is a holiday meant for me, Mari! That’s so funny! I hope I can get close with that Christmas village I just can’t see spending over $100 for one. It’s lovely, but I’m too fickle for that. I can’t wait to see what you’re up to with the decals. You made my night when you said it was something inspired by one of my DIYs. Thank you! I can’t wait for you to share!!

  4. That little green vase ... I love it.
    I am looking forward to see what you do with the little houses!!!

    I would probably give the tray a new coat of stain, but leave the bottom alone, to show the original work.

    1. Isn't that the sweetest? I had to have it, the shape is adorable and the fact that it matched my new sofa was a bonus. I agree with you about leaving the bottom. Great idea and someone just suggested rubbing it with a walnut to cover the scratches. I'm going to try that first!

  5. Paint or decoupage it gets my vote. When thrifting I feel you have full permission to use it the way it would serve a purpose best for your house. Thrifting gave up ownership of design.

    1. Yes, that's true. I feel the same way most of the time. This little piece of Americana has been pulling at my heartstrings though. Funny, the things that give you pause...who would've thought a $2 tray would be such a problem! Haha!!

  6. Do a little of both on the tray, Kim. Paint the outer frame and leave the center wood. You could also stencil it. The rest of your finds are fabulous, but that silver pedestal bowl steals my heart. Don't paint it. Let it live on in all it's 'banged-up glory'. After all, it has a story to tell....

    1. Thanks Ann! I have a feeling if a makeover happens it will be a partial kind of DIY. I love the bowl, too and my husband agrees with you, he like the rustic look. Too bad it's not really silver, then I could just shine it up.

  7. Try rubbing the tray with a shelled walnut, it may cover the scratches.

    1. Interesting! I've never heard of that. I need to google it now to find out exactly how to do it. I'm going to give it a try. Thank you!!

  8. Nooooo!!! Please don't paint the tray! How perfect just cleaned up and use for a vignette base or even as its intended purpose, a serving tray. Love the wood.

    1. This is what my gut is saying, too. I need to see if I can make some of those scratches and wear disappear. I'm not looking for perfect...just presentable. Thanks for comment!!

  9. Hi, I can’t figure out how to comment with my google/blogger/whatever account so I guess I’ll have to be another anonymous, lol! Concerning the 1940s tray, I would like to offer my vote for leaving it unpainted. A light scuffing with a fine grain sandpaper and then applying a stain should bring it back to life and luster.

    1. I'm so sorry you're having trouble commenting. Blogger is a fickle friend for sure, but I appreciate your perseverance!! I really would like to leave it, I'm a huge fan of wood pieces. The only reason I grabbed this tray in the first place is because it was two bucks and since it was so beat up I thought it would make a great canvas. Who knew it was a small piece of Americana!!

    2. Oh, I definitely hear you! Two bucks? I’d have snapped it up in a heartbeat myself, lol! But finding that 1940s date would have stopped my painting plans dead in their tracks unless and until I’d proven to myself that restoring it was an impossibility. There’s just something about a piece that’s been used and survived that use for almost 85 years that compels me to try and restore it to its original form/appearance. I’ve bought two vintage/antique chifforobes over the years. One, with a little work, was brought back to its’s original beauty. The other? Well, it was so broken (as in the drawer fronts were glued on with no drawers behind them) that restoration was impossible. So drawers were rebuilt repairs were made structurally and the whole thing was painted inside and out! I love both pieces. My very long winded way of saying that if it can’t be fixed, paint it. I do like the idea of painting just the top and leaving the bottom the natural wood tone. Can’t wait to see what you end up doing.

  10. Leave as is, then it will not detract from whatever you choose to stand on it, .

    1. Yes, great idea, a nice neutral piece for all seasons! Thanks!

  11. Start crushing walnuts in a white rage. The oil is the greatest for wood. It will add a depth to the tray, too. This is how I polished my antique violin. I don't have it as my mother was cleaning out a closet and decided to sell/give to one of my former teaches for his child to learn on. I was not happy to say the least. I was not consulted on this. Any way walnuts is the best way to polish any wood. Let the oil sink in and then buff it with another soft white cloth. Old T-Shirts are the best! The natural oil probably would not harm the back, either.

    1. Thank you for this tutorial! Someone else recommended walnuts, but I had no idea how to use them. I was going to Google it, but here you are with a great how to. Fabulous. I'm sorry to hear about your violin. I've know that disappointment. My mom had a gargage sale once and many of my treasures were sold (or tossed) before I had the chance to claim them.

  12. Both the cities Elgin in Illinois and South Haven in Michigan are both great towns and I would not paint the bottom to keep the history. You always find the best thrift shop finds to re love. Happy Wednesday. Stay cool we are all cooking this week. Hugs. Kris

    1. I love that you are familiar with the towns, Kris! I definitely won't paint over that part of the tray. It's where all the history lives. I hope you can catch a cool breeze in your neighborhood...and send some of that heat to us. The northeast is chilly...

  13. Such wonderful thrifting finds! I had no idea about August 17 being National Thrifting Day - I need to remember that for next year! I love all your finds, and anticipated re-dos. As far as the tray - I'm torn. I see the impetus to restore it, and then to repurpose it also. I know you'll come up with the perfect solution! Many blessings to you :)

    1. Thanks for the confidence, Marilyn! I'm still torn myself. My friend Ann always says that the piece will let you know what it I'm giving it time to tell me! Ha!! Enjoy the week my friend!

  14. You got some great finds! As far as the tray goes, unless you can think of a way to use as is, then go ahead and paint it. It won't be doing any good if it's not used, so you may as well find a way to make it usable! I like Diana's idea of just painting the top and sides so that you can leave the maker's mark on the bottom.

    I rarely go thrifting anymore because at this point in my life, I'm purposely trying to get rid of stuff, not bring more in. In fact, my project for today has been photographing a bunch of my vintage stuff that I want to get rid of (but not just donate). Now I will be sending the photos to a woman who has a booth in a nearby shop, to see if she's interested in purchasing any of my things.

  15. I would see if I could cover up the scratches with Old English polish. I'm getting away from painting, but sometimes that's all you can do. You should do whatever pleases your esthetic though.

  16. Love the tray and since I am a bit late to the party, I will wait to see what you decided to do to it...Great finds...I had a field day at a local church flea market a few weeks ago...I had the best time and got some great things...

  17. There's a National Thrift Shop Day!!!? How did I not know that? Any excuse to go thrifting works for me.

    That silver metal bowl is gorgeous. I vote to leave it as is. The patina and wear add loads of character. And don't even get me started on that darling little village <3 I'm so keen to see your DIY version when you get around to it.