What To Do When Attacked By Vultures at the Thrift Store

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I think you guys are really going to hate me for this: letting the most awesome sewing cabinet get away. 

I tried to lie to myself and say, “It’s okay, Serena, the next great piece will come along…” But sometimes a piece is really unique and you can’t even find it on Google. That’s how unique some things are.

Like this sewing cabinet I saw:



By the looks of it, you can’t tell it’s a sewing cabinet. I thought it was a dresser. Dressers are a dime a dozen in these parts, and I would have just walked right on by. But it was one of those Monday mornings when you just have time on your hands to stroll through your favorite thrift store. So I decided to stop and investigate.

It’s not a dresser, but a sewing cabinet!




Okay, but I already have a sewing cabinet, why would I need another one, right?

Well, THIS is why!

Seriously, how cool is it that the seat actually slides out from inside the cabinet?!?! Yes, take another look at the pic above. The front of that sewing cabinet is really the back of the chair. It just sliiiiiiides right out.

Perfect for the apartment-goer…the small space saver….the person who needs to maximize every inch of space for their crafting and sewing…



And since I’ve 1) already got a sewing cabinet that I found at the thrift store, 2) am not pressed for space, 3) am not actively selling furniture, really, right now…..

…..I walked away.



But no sooner did I walk away after contemplating this piece, and pulling it apart, did some dude bum-rush the sewing cabinet and grab a store employee and claim it as his.

I have no reason to be mad, but I was irritated!

I mean, I know I had walked away from it, but what irritated me was that this guy walked up on me real smooth while checking it out, swooning over it alongside me:

“Oh wow…yeah, yeah, that’s reeeeeal nice!”

He circled back around a couple of times, like a vulture, apparently seeing if I was getting it or not. And as I started to walk away, he said innocently (I guess to not let his excitement show), “Oh, so you not gonna get it?” And I must have responded with something like, sigh, “No, I don’t think so….”

The second I walked away, he had the store clerk over there, writing a “SOLD” ticket for it.

If you watch this short clip I recorded, you even hear him walking up on me, at 1:19 min in the video. Can’t you hear his excited “yeah!!” LOL

The reason I didn’t buy it was because I just didn’t feel like lugging another thing home. It was compact, yes, but heavy. And I already had things in my van. I really can’t complain. He didn’t do anything wrong.

But he is what I call a “thrift store vulture.” They’ll hover around, waiting for you to walk away or sit something down so they can swoop in and pick at it.



1-Never walk away from something you love at the thrift store - Thrift Diving Blog


But after posting about this in the Thrift Diving community on Facebook, some people mentioned getting a sold ticket even if you’re still “iffy,” and putting Post-it notes on a piece of furniture if you need to walk away and get a sales clerk while making up your mind. I decided to throw in a few other suggestions on how to combat thrift store vultures ;).

1- What to do when attacked by thrift store vulture

Vulture Solution #1 – Create a megaphone with your hands and announce to the whole store, “Just because I’m walking away, doesn’t mean this is up for grabs! I’m just going to get a sales clerk! It’s MINE!”

Vulture Solution #2 – Carry Post-it notes in your purse adorned with skulls and bones that say, “Touch this, and you’ll be sorry. It’s already SOLD, pal!”

Vulture Solution #3 – Fake sneeze on the thrifted item profusely (along with sneezing on your hands), and then proceed to exaggerate touching all over the piece.

Vulture Solution #4 – Put it in your cart, even if it’s hanging off the sides and bumping stuff off the shelves. Speak loudly, “Coming through! ‘Scuse me, coming through!”

Vulture Solution #5 – Squeal loudly, “OMG, I just saw a bug crawl in there!! I wouldn’t even think of taking that home!” Then sneak off quietly to get a sales clerk to write you a sales ticket.

Vulture Solution #6 – Cover it up with an old comforter from the bedding department. Use the ugliest comforter you can find (only if item hasn’t been spotted already, that is… ).

Vulture Solution #7 – Put a “BROKEN” Post-it note or “DANGER! Contains asbestos!” sign on it while you walk away to get a sales clerk.

Vulture Solution #8 – Bring your kids to babysit it. Promise them an extra toy from the kid’s section if they don’t walk away from it.

Vulture Solution #9 – Use your cell phone to place an S.O.S. call the store’s main number and ask them to send a sales clerk to the furniture section RIGHT AWAY.

Vulture Solution #10 – Shout out, “OMG, did you just know they’re handing out 50% off coupons in the parking lot to the first 75 customers?! You better hurry! I just got mine!” Then quickly find a sales clerk.


Okay, so of course I am just being facetious. But really, the idea bout the Post-It notes was great. I’m going to have to try that!

What I DID Buy….

After losing such a great buy on that sewing cabinet, I wasn’t going to let anything else pass me by! I did snatch these up at the sister store a few days later. Not quite as “wowza” but still a great find!


Thrifted Side Table - Thrift Diving 1

They are solid wood and sooooo clean inside. Really great deal. They were a bit more pricey at $29.99 each (with 25% off). But for that quality, seriously, they were a good deal!

Thrifted Side Table - Thrift Diving 2


Thrifted Side Table - Thrift Diving 3


One of the end tables I refinished along with a brassy lamp, and the other one is in the basement. You can watch it here:


So tell me….have you ever been a victim of vultures at the thrift store? Do tell in the comments section! 


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  1. Some of the stores in the Chicago area have 2 part tickets so if you want an item, you take the bottom half to indicate that it is taken. As you mentioned, sometimes someone will take the tag, change their mind and not return the tag. .You’ll hear announcements looking for the person with a final “this is the last call for the …. or it will be sold”.

  2. Where I live ~ and I thought it was the same all over ~ when a person wants to buy something, they take the price tag off and up to the till and nobody else can take it because the price tag is gone. After reading some of your stories I am really glad they do it this way.

  3. Sharon G. says:

    Hi Serena,

    I think VULTURES is the appropriate word to use. At the Goodwill that I often go to, I feel bad for the staff when I hear their cart bang through the door headed to the shelf to put things out on the floor. Customers storm the shelf barely giving the employee time to set the items down. WOW!!! It reminds me of the commercial showing the employee that has to open the doors for shoppers during Christmas sales at department stores (lol) I love Erin’s suggestions to keep something in your cart while you make up your mind Unfortunately, we only have the 2 handle baskets to use. Got a little bit of thrifting in this weekend but looking forward to my trip to Baltimore next month for my BIRTHDAY.!!!!

  4. Hi Serena!!!! Monica Chi here! I am sorry to hear about your grandmother. Allow yourself to rest and recoup girl! I loved your post about the vultures!!!!! So funny!!! The sad thing is I have not only seen the vultures at the thrift store but I have actually done at least half of those things you said to do to keep them at bay…LOL! Funny!!! Even funnier…..I have actually BEEN a vulture a time or two myself!!!!!!

  5. Hi Serena! Was wondering what state you found this in? Anyways, just wanted to tell you that while I was looking for a sewing table and watching videos about the features found in todays models (the wonderful world of Sauder pressboard lol) I STUMBLED across your youtube video about this piece (the same one as posted here) and I was soooo taken by it that I started searching for one…I have only found a handful (not trying to add insult to injury, seriously) but I have found one that I am trying to have shipped to my home lol…its not a fun adventure but your video inspired me and now I CAN NOT wait for it to arrive! The one I found did not have the machine and it will need some TLC but it will be sooo worth it having a quality piece! I guess I just wanted to post a positive side to your blog…instead of dwelling on what could have been…you have inspired others that had NO IDEA how wonderful and quality built a sewing table could be! So from the shores of Michigan…THANK YOU! I feel as though accidental encounters are not really accidental šŸ™‚

  6. Oh this really gets my goat! I have a story of a stolen dresser, and in thinking about it now, I’m surprised at how fresh it still is after over a year. I was at a flea market with my cousin and we were both pregnant at the time. I came upon a mid-century dresser that I wanted to use in my nursery, but the price was just on the line. My cousin was standing nearby and chatting to me as I was opening drawers and doors, taking measurements, and calling my husband and mother. The lady who ran the booth even came over to talk to me about it. As I was on the phone with my husband, this family of young marrieds + in-laws was walking around behind me and admiring the dresser. I even heard them say, “Well she’s going to buy it.” But, as soon as I hung up with my husband and went to the booth owner to pay, she said to me, “Oh, actually, they just bought it,” referring to the family of VULTURES!! I looked at her shocked, then I turned to the man, looked at him in the face and said, “You just bought that dresser our from under me, didn’t you?” And he said yes. HE SAID YES. I was absolutely fuming and I was LOUD about it. Listen, you don’t mess with pregnant women. (I’ve since learned to take drawers or cushions off of the things I want and carry them around with me.)

    1. Oh no, Meagan!!! I’m imagining the scene just as you’re describing it. I would have been majorly PO’ed!! The nerve! And the fact that he wasn’t going to deny it and act surprised and just say “yes.” Grrrrr….. At least now you take something like the cushions so that people won’t want to buy it! Smart cookie!! Next time, sneeze all over it. I guarantee that would work, too! HA!! šŸ™‚ Thanks for commenting!

  7. I laughed at the idea of thrift store vultures. I think I can recall a few times that one swooped in at my mere hesitation, making me feel I wasn’t aggressive enough. But, here is my advice if there is something you really want but want to think about it some more. Put one of the drawers in your basket and keep shopping while you’re thinking. Then, if you decide you don’t want it, just put the drawer back. In the meantime, the vulture can’t swoop in b/c there’s a drawer missing!

    Is that bad?


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