I know, I know, sometimes blogs get too personal and the minutia of some guy’s life isn’t that interesting, but I think I can make a point with this personal story.
I’ve been renovating my house for the last three years. Its 95% complete, no huge construction projects hanging over the house, other than a deck, but that’s outside. However, I’m still tweaking the interior. The house is so small that whatever I bring in either has to replace something already there or be of such use or quality that it makes its own space.
I’m a thrift shop aficionado. Keep in mind, this is very different from antiquing. I HATE antique shops. I used to live in Palm Beach County and they have quality antique shops with competitive pricing– mostly because the stuff they sell is the detritus from fine northeastern mansions and cottages and inappropriate for South Florida living– so, there is little market for their stock. Still, there is a lot of cool stuff to be found.
Up here in north central Florida, it is a completely different story. Antique shops in Alachua County are some sort of cross between thrift shops and and antique shops, with an unusually heavy dose of 1960’s and 70’s bric-a-brac, which still frightens me– seriously, lava lamps, plastic chairs, and chrome, chrome, and more chrome? Ghastly.
Mostly, they’re just glorified thrift shops.
Here in Gainesville, the stuff found in thrift shops is usually just one step away from the trash heap. Most of the stuff is garbage and and filthy and smells musty. Still… the occasional treasure is found with enough frequency to warrant a ten minute walk through a few times a month. For example, I have a full set of living room end tables, coffee tables, and some sort of square thing that takes up too much room, but came with the set. That set is from a famous maker and would have cost $2000 new. I also have a lot of valuable art I found lying about in a bin like trash, but a close look and some research will net a finely framed, signed piece for the space above the sofa. I found a rare signed, numbered lithograph worth $2000 for a mere $5.00. Other decent purchases include at least half a dozen pieces of fine Waterford Crystal stored on a shelf next to common glass; over 20 individual pieces of sterling silver or Sheffield plate; china tureens that match my mother’s table settings; Lennox figurines, and some antique German glass Christmas ornaments. If you’re the type that will buy clothing, which I will not buy anything with any type of textile on it, all sorts of linens and outerwear is available. In Alachua City I saw full length mink coats for $75.00– I can’t imagine anyone wearing one of those in Florida… but, it wasn’t there the next time I visited. Weird… And, did I mention the books? I have a least three dozen First Editions in my collection– you have dig around a few dusty bins, but there are almost always a few
I keep my eye out for high end kitchen pots and pans. I have a decent collection of Logan cast iron skillets and pots. A new Logan costs $75 for a small skillet, I picked one up the other day for $5.00. Believe me, owning a set of Logans makes me look like a genius around a Bar-b-Que grill. They cook the food for you.
My last haul was a solid brass Baldwin table lamp for $3.00, it retails for $225.00. With a new shade, it takes a spot on the low boy in the dining room. Very nice looking and I like the light it throws in the room.
What’s my point? Well, times are hard, the economy is weak, and inflation is kicking everyone in the wallet. So, if you need a lamp, check out the various thrift shops in area. Also, most thrift shops are run by charitable interests, Goodwill, Habitat for Humanity, Veterans groups, and so on. If you have some stuff to get rid of and don’t want to have a yard sale, donate it and get the tax receipt.
Anyway, with some time and patience, you can outfit your house or garden with high quality items for cheap. There is no reason you should pay full price for a mass produced product when there is a high end one out there just waiting for you.