Yesterday morning I spent 3 hours at the thrift store.
It was as if I had walked into an episode of Thrift Wars. I was so intrigued, I ended up spending my entire morning there.
It all started with this buffet:
I couldn’t believe I had seen such an amazing, clean piece for……(get this!)…..$35!
You could have put this in your dining room and ate off of it the very same night!
I stood there scoping it out, snapping pics to show you guys, when a nice 70-year-old gentleman asked me if I liked it, pointing out that it was already sold to “Pete.”
Who in the world is Pete??
Pete walks over at that time, with this beauty of a print in his hands, and introduces himself as a flea market vendor.
I’m always interested in furniture flippers and how and where they sell their goods.
But what should have been a quick “Hey, congrats, Pete, you found a nice piece there….” turned into a 3-hour ordeal.
The Best Flea Markets
He was actually waiting for his art dealer friend to show up to give him the print a “once-over” to see if it was valuable.
While we waited, we talked about where all the best Flea Markets are (he told me about The Big Flea Market which is held bi-monthly across the U.S., I believe. Next one is in NYC).
He also told me about the Brimfield Antique Show which is miles and miles long of amazing stuff and people drive hours just to attend.
I had never heard of these flea markets.
Tell me more, Pete…
The Business of Furniture Flipping
When his friend showed up, I stood there watching in awe as his friend pulled out this jewelers magnifying glass and started inspecting it!
(Excuse my horrific stubby nails. HA!)
I mean, I know that people scope out good art from the thrift store, but to pull out the glass….. That was a whole ‘nutha level.
Apparently, depending on the technique used, you can tell “good art” with this little thing.
This guy said he never travels without it after learning his lesson and losing good art because he couldn’t tell it was valuable.
Then they busted out his cell phone, scanned a barcode on the back, trying to check eBay to see what the going rate was on the picture.
Meh–$50 for the print….
The thrift store was asking $50 for the whole piece. Still a deal, but not enough of a profit to sell at the flea market.
I felt like I was standing in the middle of some HGTV show or something and that cameras would come out of the woodwork any moment!
What’s even funnier is that we all three stood around sharing stories of “hoarding” and how our spouses just don’t understand.
We were united by junk.
Pete then grabs this thing around his neck and says, “Well, I don’t leave the house without this thing right here.”
A measuring tape necklace?!! LOL
I carry one in my purse, but clever to have it so accessible. LOL
You gotta be ready, right??
After a couple hours, I had to try to get out of there, but Pete wasn’t done with his lessons yet, and the Thrift Wars were about to get even more interesting.
See this table here?
Apparently, this is a Danish mod table. This is his “taste” so he gravitates towards it.
Knows it like the back of his hand.
And you won’t believe the price.
According to Pete, this table could easily be flipped and sold for least $600.
He wanted to prove to me it was authentic, so he tipped it over.
Sure enough. There was the proof:
Made in Denmark
It doesn’t get any more “quality” than that!
A local artist friend to Pete was interested in the table and asked him to “watch it” for him so he could empty out his truck and come back to buy it.
Well, before you know it, someone else had his hands all over it, claiming he had bought the table just an hour before!
He hovered over it like a protective animal over his meal, pulling out his receipts to prove that he was the owner, not Pete’s friend.
As they all stood around checking receipts, I could have pulled up a chair with a big tub of popcorn and watched this drama play out. It was so interesting to see the salavating and near-flared tempers! (Read my article What To Do When Attached By Vultures at the Thrift Store).
For these furniture flippers that scour the thrift stores every morning, ready to pick off the cream of the cop, ain’t nobody messin’ with their scores!
And what was even funnier is that Pete said that that man in the light orange shirt was their well-known furniture flipping dueling competition!
Then it hit me: while everyone else goes to work and thrift dives for fun evenings and weekends, the furniture flippers (mostly retired men) have scoured the cream of the crop early in the mornings with a vengeance, digging through piles of scraps looking for diamonds!
And suddenly I was on their turf, in the middle of their “everyday,” seeing the other side of thrift diving: the hungry side, the furniture flipping side.
And it almost felt like I was silently being voted into their club.
Finally, I had found my “people”!
And this was better than any cinema entertainment. LOL
What I Found That Morning
I did happen to find what I was looking for while there: a coffee table.
Blah….plain…simply functional for my 30-Day Makeover Challenge in my family room.
But after Pete glanced it over and said, “Nah, this is crap. You should look for the solid wood” I ditched it.
It was horrid.
I’ll find something else, I guess. Or build something with my own hands.
I had walked by it.
Until Pete pointed out all the well-constructed joints, the great stitching the 60’s fun and funky fabric.
You know what?
He was right. This was a cute mod chair.
And it must have been a hot item, because wouldn’t you know some other furniture flippers were stalking it before I shooed them away.
So for $10, I scooped that mod chair up real quick!
The Amazing Steals
And the other interesting finds for the day were these chairs:
First, this man was walking by with this ornate wood carved chair, and I just had to stop and ask him if I could snap a pic of it to show you guys!
One of the sales people glanced over and said, “Hmmm hmmm…you better be glad I didn’t price that, because I surely wouldn’t have marked it at $9.99….”
He walked away like a cat who got the mouse!! LOL It was hilarious!
Everyone was feeling the craze that morning!
And I can’t get over these chairs…. Pete found them before me. Otherwise, they would have been coming home with me.
For $6.99 each, I wanted to find the person who priced them so I could examine them in the head because they must be insane!!
They’re gorgeous for an office!!!
Last but not least, here’s a little something else I saw that was really cute, too! I want to say it was $40?? Can’t see close enough on the tag.
After 3 hours, I finally ripped myself away from the thrift store and all these interesting guys.
I knew I’d be seeing them again on my next early-morning venture to the thrift store.
Next time, we can be on the hunt together.
Feels good to be a part of the tribe.
So do you have any interesting stories from the thrift store to share? Leave a comment below and let’s hear it!