Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Come With Me on a Record Hunting Adventure in St. Augustine


St. Augustine remains one of my favorite spots for thrifting adventures, second hand shopping, hitting up the beach, and going on scenic strolls. If you happen to be in the area, you have to stop by Budget Records and Tapes (Or simply Budget Records) at 212 San Marco Ave (the same street as many of my favorite St. Augustine Thrift Stores, which I'll write about soon).

It seems like just yesterday that I strolled into Budget records as it was setting up 9 months ago. I purchased a Prince record from the then empty store and promised I'd be back to check it out when they were settled in. On my return visit this weekend, I was impressed with all they'd done with the place! It was cozy, colorful, and full of a wide variety of records. Owners John and Steve let me take some pictures and ask some questions.

Budget Records is directly across the street from a Rock and Roll landmark, the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind, a school where the legendary Ray Charles received his education some 70 years ago. There are well over 1,000 $1.00 records available at all times, I'm told local bands have made entire albums from the $1.00 record selection available.

There are cassette tapes, CDs, and records in every genre: rock, jazz, r & b, country, folk, and classical. I'll be back to hunt through their R&B, Blues, and Jazz selections frequently, hunting down my favorite classics. I'm interested in seeing what vintage collectibles the team plans to bring into the mix as well.

It was a day of vintage bits, hunting through boxes and boxes of records, and trips to nearby Vilano Beach. Quite a lovely way to spend the Memorial Day weekend! Be sure to follow Budget Records on Facebook to keep track of their weekly deals and sales.

What type of music do you collect and listen to? I've gotta admit, it's hard for me to break out of the Jazzy/Funky/Groovy/Blusey/R&B realm. Any recommendations for me? I'd love to hear them!
Daily thrifting updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow Thrift Core on Twitter and Facebook.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Marketing Tips for Your Blog and Business (& Sponsor Thrift Core!)


I'm accepting sponsors for June! I wanted to candidly let you know how sponsoring Thrift Core works. I don't simply put your button on my site and leave your success up to fate, I work with my sponsors to promote them, help them with their website issues, and really deliver results.

When you buy an ad on Thrift Core you receive: 

  • Free Website Success Newsletter: I provide my insider tips for success 
  • Free Ad Design: Don't have an Ad? I'll make one for you! 
  • Free Website Analysis: A custom consultation for improving your website
  • 24/7 Assistance: I'll always be here for any questions you have 

Remember, I make a living improving websites. A copywriting campaign I launched recently earned my employer well over $53,850 in three months. Part of my day job is spending hours testing what works on the web, and what doesn't. My advice is very valuable, and I'm giving it to you for free when you buy an ad on Thrift Core.  

As a Thrift Core Sponsor I not only promote you, I analyze your website and provide you with a plan to make your online store, blog, or campaign successful. 

Testimonials from my wonderful and happy sponsors:  

" I've doubled my friends on Facebook in 3 days...yay! Your blog has been a real boost for traffic on the website, too!" 
Jolene, JoRetro
"Sponsoring thriftcore has been a great experience, I've seen my traffic go up, and Van is the greatest host. When she says you can write her whenever if you have to ask something she's not lying. She will give you the attention she promises! I'm really happy since I've been working with her, and you will be too. Sponsoring thriftcore feels like your 2nd home!
-Cindy Lou, eLousions 
 "Thanks for being so easy to work with!"
-Hillary, HGTV
"Thanks for being so easy to work with!" -Hillary, HGTV "Van, you have been amazing every step of the way! I love being a part of this site and mostly and thankful for your friendship. You're awesome! :D"
-Marcia, Art by Marcia Furman

Tips for Marketing Your Blog or Online Business

I love providing detailed advice on how to get more followers on your social networks and improve your online sales. I continue to write a creative business tips series for Papernstitch. People have let us know that the tips have already worked for them. Please read them, I'm sure they can work for you, too!

Questions? Comments?
Leave your questions in the comments or simply send me an e-mail. I look forward to helping you with your online success. I'm not just saying that, I really do! :) It's one of my biggest passions.So leave any marketing/website help/Thrift Core sponsor questions you have in the comments and I'll promptly respond.
Daily thrifting updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow Thrift Core on Twitter and Facebook.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

We Thrift Because: We're Dreamers


The more I interact in this online thrifting community, the more I see distinct catalysts that keep us thrifting and junk hunting.  This new We Thrift Because... series will explore why we thrift. 

As thrifters, we're dreamers. We have prolific imaginations. Non-thrifters might see a rusted pile of debris as useless junk, but thrifters never do. We can approach dusty clutter with reverence. We hold it in the same regard as Babylonian artifacts displayed in a prestigious museum. Every discarded item has potential.

Dedicated thrifters live a life outside the status quo. We dream of more than that. Many of us have made our own careers are creatives, bloggers, writers, artists, crafters, and resellers. If we haven't yet, we strive for it every day. We dream about it.

If you want my thrifty dreamer inspiration take a look at my friend Selena's Dream Share posts for a peek at the lofty aspirations shared by those in online thrifting community.  Let's keep seeing the potential in everything and transforming nothing into something. For thrifters, it's second nature. We couldn't help it if we wanted to.

What are your thrifty dreams?
Daily thrifting updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow Thrift Core on Twitter and Facebook.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Salvation Army Canada Interview: Answering Your Thrifting Questions


Did you know the Salvation Army Stores in Canada branch never mark on clothes with sharpies? Or staples prices to them? And they're probably never rude to customers? (Ever?) How do I know? Because the Canadian Salvation Army and I have been talking, and they generously agreed to an interview!

I decided to let you ask the questions! Thankfully they were good sports and the questions didn't scare them away! Here's the scoop:

1. Claire Osada asks: How [do] they price things?! I've noticed their prices end in odd amounts, like $1.56 instead of $1.50.

That is a good question – the simple answer is it is common retail practice; instead of promoting a round figure, for example $3 – $2.99 just sounds a whole lot nicer :)

2. Edward Mourningwood asks: How many of the clothes come off dead people? Not from, but decidedly, off dead people?

This one is an odd one – we do not literally take clothing off of the backs of people who have passed away. All donations are made freely, and initiated by the rightful donor. We receive most of our donations from families and individuals in the community seeking to donate their unused or unwanted items. Sometimes family members donate items from someone in their life who has passed away, but that is a very small percentage.

Nonsequitor interview interruption time with Van:
This answer left my insatiable thirst for blood completely unsatisfied. Did you know I'm a huge horror genre fan? You do now! Of course the Salvation Army doesn't take clothing off the backs of dead people, but dead people clothe themselves in thrifted duds all the time. Take Michael Jackson's Thriller for example:
The costume designer bought clothing from thrift stores and set work destroying them. The team slashed the clothes with razor blades and dirtied them up before they gave them back to the actors to wear. According to The Making Michael Jackson's Thriller documentary (that I can practically quote because I've watched it 1,000+ times), moths got inside the clothes and terrorized the actors!

3. Crystal Miller-Spiegel asks: If they actually donate items to people in need or if people have to shop at the thrift store?

The Salvation Army Thrift Stores of Canada are a 100% charity. Although items that are donated are sold in-store, the stores exist to generate funds for the charity – they are a support – a resource for the charity. All donations made raise money and support Salvation Army programs and services across the country.

 A Salvation Army in Vancouver. From my SixBalloons Interview.

4. Angelika Dawson asks: I don't know if this is true or not but i have heard that some Salvation Army stores have given up their charitable status and are run strictly as retail stores. If that's true, i wonder why that is. I'd also like to know what percentage of their intake from their thrift shops supports their programs.

That is not true. Salvation Army Thrift Stores are a 100% charity, so all proceeds go towards the Salvation Army and supporting the services and programs they provide. That is the reason I love working for this organization – all the work we do – and all the support the community provides truly does go towards making a difference and helping those in need.

5. Amy Tournas-Hardt  asks: I just came from a Salvation Army in Westfield, MA and was very surprised to find that they attach their tags with two staples per item. Metal staples right through the front of knit shirts, silk dresses...huh? Needless to say, I arrived home to find that most of my purchases have small holes in them. Aargh. My question is therefore: Why not use the plastic thingamajigs to attach prices? At least the clothes wouldn't be spoiled.

That is not something we do in our Canadian Thrift Stores; all items are tagged with a tagging machine. As our Salvation Army Thrift Stores do operate independently from the United States stores, I cannot speak too much on their practices, but I can tell you that our Head Office prides itself on maintaining an open line of communication with our guests, and appreciate feedback and suggestions. I recommend you contact the Head Office – or store management to express your concerns.

6. Amy Tournas-Hardt  asks: Why not allow refunds or exchanges like Goodwill does? Then I would have recourse for my 6 new otherwise-perfect-except-for-small-holes-in-them t-shirts... and couldn't they use just one staple, instead of two, to halve the chances of creating holes in the clothes?

This is another question that reflects different policies and procedures than the Canadian Thrift Stores as we happily accept refunds and exchanges within a set period of time.

7. Jessica of Krrb Asks - I want to know if they use any digital or online marketing in any way! (Van's note: I'd love a detailed answer here, too!)

Absolutely! The Salvation Army Thrift Stores of Canada are moving forward with the rest of the world and entering into the world of online communications :) We have divided the country into three online communities to best connect with the guests shopping in those regions, they are: The West, Ontario and The Atlantic. Each ‘online community’ has a twitter and Facebook account, as well as a main website to best communicate and share sales and special promotions happening in that area. Please visit www.thriftstore.ca to visit your Salvation Army online community today!

* * *

Do you have questions for the Canadian Salvation Army? Leave them in the comments and I'll get you the answers! 
Daily thrifting updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow Thrift Core on Twitter and Facebook.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Thrift Haul: The New Thrift Core Store


I broke my temporary thrifting ban and did a little bit of thrifting with a pal who needed clothes for a fashion photoshoot. I came home with a gorgeous boat cup (pictured below) and a dress for work, so I didn't do too bad at controlling my thrifting impulses!

 [Available for sale here, although I almost want to keep it...]

Instead of ample thrifting, I spent time on opening a Thrift Core Online Shop! I've been receiving e-mails and comments asking to buy items from my Thrift Hauls and other areas of the website. After shipping out three items, I felt like it was time to open up shop again!

Check back often, I'll be updating it with plenty of vintage goodies all the time. I tried to keep the prices as low as possible and included shipping with the prices for ease.

Remember, when you Shop Thrift Core and Advertise on Thrift Core you're directly supporting one little writer (this website is not run by a team, it's just me!) and helping her make this website as informative and beautiful as possible.

The more I make from advertising and my shop, the more time I can afford to invest in Thrift Core! If that's not reason enough, you also get amazing colorful vintage bits for your home!

Special Promotion Time: To Celebrate the Grand Opening, used the promotional code "robotexplosions" to receive 10% off your entire order! The offer is for this week only, so get shopping!

See Something You Want? If you see anything in photos on this blog you want, it might be for sale. e-mail me and we'll talk about it. 

What Did You Find at the Thrifts this Weekend?
Linked to: [Thrift Share Monday] [The Penny Worthy Project] [Flea Market Finds].
Daily thrifting updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow Thrift Core on Twitter and Facebook.

Friday, May 20, 2011

JoRetro Vintage Giveaway: Win $200 in Vintage Swag

The JoRetro shop specializes in my favorite kind of retro goodies: the kitschy, eccentric finds! Sisters Irene and Jolene have put together a beautiful online shop of vintage treasures to salivate over. I wanted to introduce you to their shop, JoRetro: Eccentric Antiques and Collectibles, their fun blog, and let you know about an amazing giveaway they're having:

The winner gets to choose one item valued at $200!

How to Enter to Win one Sexy Vintage Item Worth up to $200 from JoRetro!

1.  Like the JoRetro Facebook page.

2. Look through the JoRetro shop and select the one item worth up to $200 that you want to win.

3. Leave a comment on her facebook wall letting her know which item you want to win BEFORE the deadline, May 31, 2011. That's it!

 Vintage photos of Jolene and her family, generously shared with us on her blog. 

I was immediately taken with the JoRetro shop and blog. Both weave in Jolene's love of crafts and her memories of the past. There are sweet posts like this one about her mom's classic vintage fashion, and craft tags like From Trash to Tags, a practical post on making more merchandise for your antique store, for free!

Jolene will be back again soon to answer some questions about her success as an antique reseller. Her shop looks amazing, and I can't wait to pick her brain and get reselling and antique hunting secrets.

If you have any questions for Jolene's success as an antique reseller and hunter, please leave them in the comments!

Note: This is not a paid post, but JoRetro is a Thrift Core Sponsor. Read my Sponsor FAQ and Advertising page if you're interested in being a Thrift Core Sponsor.
Daily thrifting updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow Thrift Core on Twitter and Facebook.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thrifters Around the World: The Vintage Cabin's Becke from Toronto

 [Becke in her beautiful Toronto abode. Her blog is The Vintage Cabin is probably familiar to you.]

You'll love The Vintage Cabin. Becke's blog and  Shop are full of amazing vintage finds, and whimsy, too. She's got a great eye for finds and the editing willpower many of us aspire to.  I'm grateful that she took some time out to answer some questions about thrifting in Toronto for me.

Tell us a little bit about yourself, Becke.

My name is Becke and I run the online shop and blog, The Vintage Cabin. I love the thrill of the hunt and all of the adventures that come along with it.  

When and why did you start thrifting?

I have been thrift shopping and junk hunting since I was about the age of 10. My mom got me into it and it's been a near obsession ever since. We were a middle class family who didn't need to shop at thrift stores at the time but my mom just had a thing for vintage and antique items. She loved to decorate and find unique items and I've followed in her footsteps.  

 [A Thrift Store in Toronto.]

What do you think makes thrifting in Canada different than thrifting in the United States or other places in the world?

I don't actually think there's a big difference between thrift shopping in Canada and the US. The prices seem a bit cheaper in the US but, for the most part, a lot of the finds are similar and the stores are as well. I have checked out thrift stores in England but they are few and far between compared to how many there are here. I am going back there in August this year and plan to check out some car boot sales and, as they call them, charity shops to see if they have become more popular. I have heard that vintage shopping has really caught on in the last year or two there so maybe things are different now.  

What are the names for "thrifting" in Toronto, Canada? Any special nick names?

I don't think so... I usually stay away from words like thrifted or thrifting myself and instead call my outings 'junk runs' even though the last thing I am looking for is junk!  

Is there a large thrifting/junking/second-hand shopping culture in Toronto?

Yes, definitely. It's been popular for many, many years, if not decades. I think Toronto was at its prime for thrift stores about 10 years ago though. There were several amazing smaller Goodwill stores and the prices were still very reasonable then. There was also this great, super dumpy Goodwill downtown called Buy the Pound where you'd go in with a mask on and sort through dirty piles of stuff for hours. You'd fill your bag, put it on the scale and pay according to the weight. It was dirt cheap but a huge amount of work plus there was always the risk of Tuberculosis or some other terrifying illness because of the filth but the finds were worth the risk. I should also mention that often you would grab something you thought could be a cool t-shirt or something and quickly realize it was a pair of somewhat damp, dirty underwear. AHHHHHH!!!  

Is there a stigma against second-hand shopping in Toronto? Is it seen as something dirty or something for low-income families?

No, not at all. I'm sure there are a few circles who would frown upon thrift store shopping but I would say the majority have really warmed up to it. Big thrift chains like Value Village, although they are a for-profit company and have really driven prices up at all thrift stores, have made thrift shopping a less dirt bag experience overall I think.

 [An industrial second-hand Shop in Toronto]

Are there any flea markets in Toronto? What are they like?

There are quite a few flea markets but I think most of them are crappy - ie, they sell new Hot Wheels from Malaysia, bobble heads and cellphone cases. There is the St. Lawrence Sunday Market which has been going for years that is always good. I hear there is also a flea market starting at Brick Works this summer but I'm not sure if it's going to be really high-end or what.

 [Smash, a Second Hand Shop in Toronto. Full post here.]

Are there many dumpster divers and curb-side hunters in Toronto? (Find anything interesting?)

Absolutely! I used to set things out to the curb that I didn't want anymore or was too lazy to haul to a thrift store and it would usually be gone within half an hour at the most. Once, I even set out a homemade giant poop costume I had made and it was taken in about 10 minutes. I didn't really drive around looking for stuff myself, as the garbage rules changed and made it very hard to find much of anything decent. I did find a huge pile of vintage sign letters on my way home once though. There must have been about 25 of them and they were solid metal and each was about 3 feet x 2 feet wide. I sold almost all of them and kept the ABC for my office space. I mostly did my dumpster/garbage runs back when I lived in Ottawa. I used to go out every week but in many Ontario cities now, you can't leave big stuff out like you used to.

Is there a large thrift and craft culture in Toronto?

I'm not a big crafter myself but there is definitely a big scene in Toronto and for sure there are many thrift junkies. Just head to Queen West or Kensington Market and you can see a thriving scene that has been evolving for several decades.  

What are thrift stores like in Toronto?

I would say they're the same as everywhere else. Some of the smaller stores can be dumpy but I always prefer them because prices are best and their goods aren't weeded out so much. Most of the stores in the city and near the downtown core are very, very picked through. Competition is tough so I tend to avoid them altogether. Anymore, you can only really find good deals outside of the city.  

 [Becke Working in her sexy office/workspace of thrifted finds. See it on Apartment Therapy.]

Where is your favorite place in the World to Thrift?

Anywhere that involves little old ladies, dead seniors (sorry! mean, I know, but they have the best stuff usually!) and small towns in general. You could put me in almost any country though, city or town, and I would make the best of any thrift store. The experience is just as thrilling anywhere I would think - well, except maybe for thrifting in a place like Rwanda or the city of Linfen, China where it's dark because of smog almost 24 hours a day. That might not be so fun...

I love the clean style of your blog, shop, and home: what inspires your selections?

Thanks! I am always inspired by items that are quirky and/or funny, even if they don't make it into my house. I like the mix of oddities with a grown-up, refined look. I'm a sucker for contrasting styles, you could almost say my decor tastes are bi-polar, but I find the mix of humor with a bit of bleakness strangely comforting. For the most part though, one thrift find influences another and the chain keeps evolving (and devolving) almost daily. The key is to keep editing. It took me many, many years to learn that.  

What's your favorite thing to collect from thrift stores?

Speaking of editing, I'm not much of a collector of things - well, things in quantity at least. I do have a few items I always buy when I see though and that includes starburst cutlery from the 50s/60s, metal figurines of the Statue of Liberty, plain white vases and items with crests and/or military symbols.  

[Pierre the French Bulldog. I want him.]

And randomly: can I have your frenchie? I will name him Bruce and give him a cape. We'll fight crime together, he and I.

And yes, you can have Pierre but I must warn you, he is NOT into thrift shopping whatsoever. He'll only stress you out at yard sales and he'll even sigh loudly if you try showing him your amazing finds (like most men).


If you would like to be featured in Thrifters Around the World, shoot me an e-mail
I would love to interview you and chat about thrifting where you live.

Past Thrifters Around The World Interviews:
[5/13/2011] Thrifters Around the World: Thrift in Vancouver, Canada with SixBalloons 
Daily thrifting updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow Thrift Core on Twitter and Facebook.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

5 Lessons I Learned From Being a Vendor at the Riverside Arts Market


It was chaotic, but I have fond memories of the time I spent as a vendor at the Riverside Arts Market two years ago. Colorful art, homegrown vegetables, affordable eats, and good music surrounded us. It was an enriching and inspiring atmosphere. This post will reveal the 5 most important lessons I learned from being a vendor at a local arts market, and why you should take the leap and do the same!

1. I Had No Art Ready. But You Should!

Don't be like me, have your art and supplies ready before renting a booth! I already worked more than 50 hours per week at a day job; I rarely slept when you added making merchandise for the art market. I was always rushed and didn't produce a line I was proud of.

2.    You Just Have to Take the Leap. 

It's scary to put yourself out there, but if you can financially take the risk, do it! You can always split your table or booth with others to save money. (I sold art with Nicole Middleton and Fenna Blue, it was fun! )

3.    Make Connections with Your Fellow Creators.

Make friends with your fellow creators, vintage lovers, and artists; they are your kindred spirits. I made so many friends though my time at the Riverside Arts Market. It was my unofficial introduction to the Jacksonville artist community, and I wouldn't know about some of my favorite events (like Dr. Sketchy's!) if I didn't go through with it.

4.    Be The Batman of Organization; Brutal, Efficient.

Before you even consider getting started though, get organized. Hyper organized! Be pedantic. Take inventory of every single supply you'll need to be successful. Have all of your inventory neatly packed and ready to go!

5.    Now I'm Ready to Craft a New Line: Slowly!

My time at the Riverside Arts Market was exhausting, but rewarding and well worth it. Now my art mojo is back and I'm ready to create as much merchandise as possible for the future. I'm going to take my time and produce a line I can be proud to display and sell.

You should take your time and do the same, slowly make a real line. Think about the theme, the color pallate, and what you wan to communicate. Be prolific and make a large selection for buyers to choose from.

On Selling Your Art: I love the connection you make when you sell your art to someone face to face, it's an exchange of ideas and experiences that can't be beat. I love how strangers can relate to something you've created, they take a piece of your soul with them to cherish. It's amazing to meet people that relate to your style and vision. I'll be back to sell art again one day, but only after I patiently produce something good!

Nothing's Stopping You: Make it, then Get Out There and Sell it!
Daily thrifting updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow Thrift Core on Twitter and Facebook.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

How to Back Up Your Blogger Blog- Don't Let Blogger Eat it!


You got a scare Thursday and Friday of last week. You were worried that blogger chomped your posts and comments for good. (And some us did get our posts and comments permanently deleted!) This blogger scare shows that it's a good idea to back up your blog every day just in case. This post will show you how to do just that! Don't worry, it's really easy.

1. Go to the Settings Tab and under Basic Settings the first options include Export blog. Click Export blog.

2. You'll end up at this screen. Click Download Blog.

3. This window will pop up. I chose to open my file with notepad, but you can open it with whatever program you desire. You can also simply save it somewhere safe on your PC from here. click "OK".

4. This is what your blog will look like in notepad. When you import this file, it will import your blog posts exactly as they were. The formatting will be the same, the pictures will be there, even your comments are saved. (Yay!)

5. You need to back up your layout, too. Go to design, then go to Edit HTML. Click "Download Full Template" to download the whole thing. Click "Upload" when you need to upload if you have to upload the layout again.

6. Importing your whole blog will be just as easy, just go to Import blog under basic settings. 

Now go forth, and save a copy of your blog to your computer. Store it on a back up drive or two. If you could print it and put it your fireproof safe, then put that safe inside another safe and protect both safes with an impenetrable magic forcefield I'd recommend that, too. But for now, this the safest way to back up your blogger blog that I know of.

Any other blogging tips to share? Questions? Share them in the comments!
Daily thrifting updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow Thrift Core on Twitter and Facebook.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Thrift Haul: Thrifted Art Bits and Art Books

I'm on a thrifting break. Until I price and stock all the thrifted bits in boxes infiltrating my closets, I can't hit up the thrift store for goodies (Even if it's painful). Yet Thrift Haul posts will live on until the next thrift trip, because there's plenty of thrifted bits around the house that I haven't fully captured yet!

I  found the small framed Chinese Dragon artwork above while hunting last weekend. The combination of colors work so well, it even looks nice against this green wall. I paid $5 for it and it's about 3 inches tall.

I've had good luck finding art history books lately for some reason, too. I have a decent collect of them right now, all from flea markets and yard sales.

 [Small Whale, .25 cents from a yard sale]

I'm always hunting for art while thrifting, and it's hard for me to resist little pieces of art while thrifting. To keep my drawers and closets from being cluttered with too many small pieces,  I always hang them or frame them immediately after I bring them home!

What Did You Find this Weekend?

Daily thrifting updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow Thrift Core on Twitter and Facebook.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Thrifters Around the World: Thrift in Vancouver, Canada with SixBalloons

 [The SixBalloons blog is full of whimsy; just the way I like my thrifty finds...]

Edit: Well, Damn. I posted this yesterday, but blogger deleted it. Blogger also made comments disappear and other oddities. I'll be back on Monday with regular postings if Blogger permits!  Have a nice weekend!

You'll love Vancouver, Canada based thrifter's blog, SixBalloons where she shares her colorful vintage finds and displays a clear passion for the vintage hunt. 

Tell us a little bit about yourself, SixBalloons.

I was born and raised in the beautiful city of Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada where I live with my hubby. We have a little house that we've put a lot of work into, and it's all been worth it - harvesting vegetables from my little urban garden has been one of my favourite accomplishments!

My day job is quite technical and detail-oriented, and thrifting and blogging has given me a chance to have a creative outlet to contrast the analytical work. Starting up the SixBalloons blog has encouraged me to try different things with photography, and think about details like layout and presentation. It's a fun challenge because I know there are always things that can be refined and improved. For instance, my next task is to create a SixBalloons banner!

When and why did you start thrifting?

My Dad has always been intruiged by garage sales and flea markets. While the rest of the family groaned in the car when we were kids, I'd jump at the chance to do some serious treasure hunting! The thrill of finding some mysterious trinket or great bargain always appealed to me. When we started furnishing our home, I was disappointed to find that many new items were of lower quality than those I grew up with (i.e. veneered particle board dressers, heavy porcelain baking pans).

With some patience and heavy lifting, we were able to get several main furniture pieces in solid oak and rosewood. This has been a great foundation upon which to build. Then as we started to stock our kitchen and experiment with recipes, I knew that adding some vintage Pyrex and Le Creuset pieces would add quality and character to our space.

What do you think makes thrifting in Canada different than thrifting in the United States or other places in the world?

At least locally in my region, there are a couple of reasons I can see. First, there is a good culture of recycling and reuse. Then there is the convenience of donating used goods. It is very common for people to donate items they want to get rid of, sell them on Craigslist, or hold garage sales. Charities solicit donations and offer to pick up goods from your doorstep and convenient drop off bins are located throughout the city for clothing and book donations.

This high volume of incoming product makes for great shopping for thrifters. I'm sure this is not exclusive to Canada, but our society values convenience, things that function perfectly, and of course, new stuff. Every time I find something amazing, I'm reminded of how wasteful our society can be. There really are hidden treasures to be found at thrift shops here.

What are the names for "thrifting" in Canada? 

I can't think of any different terms, but the places Canadians go to thrift are:

-thrift stores
-secondhand shops
-consignment shops
-rummage sales
-church bazaars
-flea markets
-garage sales
-yard sales

Estate sales are not very popular here, which I think contributes to lots of items being donated to thrift shops.

Is there a large thrifting/junking/second-hand shopping culture in Canada?

Vancouver is a big metropolis and it has become very popular to shop thrift. There are several high-end consignment retail stores for vintage fashions, household items, and mid-century modern furniture and finds. The typical chain thrift stores are generally quite busy, and you often see teenagers shopping for clothing, and families purchasing household items. Turnover is high, which is great for finding new items, but it can be slim pickings on a Saturday afternoon.

Is there a stigma against second-hand shopping in Canada? Is it seen as dirty or something for low-income families?

Yes and no. Because Vancouver is a fairly expensive city, there are wide income gaps between certain neighbourhoods. As a result, sadly, some thrift stores are shoddy and unkempt, and others can be quite expensive. I have noticed more of a depressing vibe in some stores, but most places are in regular neighbourhoods. The people in these average income areas are fortunate in that they likely choose to thrift.

I would still say that you see the odd kid looking embarrassed about shopping at places like Value Village. You then have the young hipsters who are proud that they are rummaging around for deals and individual style. I think the general population here has gained an appreciation for vintage, and that has really changed the perception of thrifting.

On the garage sale front, there is no such stigma, as it is almost a Spring and Summer past-time to wander neighbourhood sales.

Are there any flea markets in Vancouver, Canada? What are they like?

There is a big flea market in Vancouver on the weekends, and some smaller ones at community centres. There is a wide range of vendors - the vintage-collector-types, the new cheap trinket sellers, and the odd balls selling things like new batteries, shampoos and razors. I think the dollar-store type sellers probably provide convenience for shoppers, but it brings the excitement factor down for me. They also typically charge an admission fee, which further dilutes the experience.

Are there many dumpster divers and curb-side shoppers in your area?

In Vancouver, it is very uncommon to dumpster dive. There are a lot of concerns about cleanliness and safety due to drug-use and homelessness issues in some areas. In terms of the curb-side, you regularly see couches, furniture items, and small appliances set out with a FREE sign, usually around the end of the month when people are moving. These pieces usually don't last long, so that's a great system. I attribute this to the multiple colleges and universities as there are lots of young people moving to and fro throughout the year. Craigslist is very popular in Vancouver, and there is a long free section which helps move products along!

Is there a large thrift and craft culture in Canada?

New TV programs seem to be generating excitement about treasure hunting, and as housing becomes more expensive here, I think that people have less disposable income and more desire to find ways to save money. In terms of crafting, I'm not an expert on the subject of crafting but there are certainly talented local artisans that produce anything from pottery to specialty soaps to handmade knit items.

 [A very tidy thrift store in Vancouver, Canada]

What are thrift stores like in Canada?

Generally clean, organized by sections, heavy on clothing and shoes, lots of donated small appliances, furniture and mugs mugs everywhere.

Where is your favorite place in the world to thrift?

I have to say my hometown and the outlying suburbs. I enjoy finding little local treasures that remind me of my childhood, like Expo '86 paraphernalia, or something relating to my favourite hockey team, the Vancouver Canucks!


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