More For Less: The Value of Thrifting For Supplies

Let me preface this post by saying that I’m very lucky to have several amazing thrift store options in my area that have added a lot to our creative toolbox over the years. I know that not everyone will have access to the same kinds of stores that I have in my area. Whatever you do have, scope it out. You never know what you might come across!

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about building your creative toolbox. That post listed out some basic supplies you might want to have on hand to allow for the free exercise of creativity in your home. I promised I would branch out from the basics and give you a few ideas for what you can add to your supplies to give you more creative options. There are entire stores devoted to creative supplies and you could really go crazy in a places like those…and spend a lot of money, too. I certainly have! That said, it is possible to add a wide variety of supplies to your toolbox without breaking the bank. My first secret is thrifting, buying supplies second-hand. Depending on what kind of stores you have in your area, you may find a wide variety of creative tools at a fraction of the cost.

We are lucky enough to have stores in our area that specialize in craft and building supplies. We can find all kinds of things to use for creative projects. Even in thrift stores that don’t carry much in the way of paints, paper, yarn or stamps, you may find project pieces to re-purpose, like frames, vases or even small pieces of furniture.

Interested in taking a tour of our thrift stores with us? Check out the video below. We had fun wandering around seeing what we could find:

(As an aside, I have got to figure out how to make my video thumbnails look less ridiculous!)

I find thrifting especially useful if there’s a new skill you’d like to learn or something you’d like to test out. Maybe you don’t want to spend a lot on supplies for something you’re not sure you or your child will enjoy. Knitting is a great example. I can usually find knitting supplies at at least two of my local thrift stores. Buying a pair of knitting needles and a bit of yarn is a small investment. If you try it out and love it, you can continue knitting with recycled craft material, or head over to that huge craft store and stock up on the latest trends.

When M wanted to try finger knitting, we picked up yarn at the thrift store. When she wanted to start a sewing business, we got all of the fabric for handmade shopping bags from the thrift store. See that neat looking breakfast tray in the picture below? M and my husband made that out of an old cabinet door for me one Mother’s Day past.

We recently started experimenting with using old books in our art pieces. We haven’t gotten too far yet, but we like the look. Books are readily available in most thrift shops. Look for titles that you enjoy. Keep them for reading, or turn them into your next masterpiece.

I’ve also found thrifting to be a fantastic way to create unique Halloween costumes. I re-purposed a dress for M’s Lucille Ball costume and I made this Professor Snape costume almost exclusively using thrift shop components (except for the fabric for the cape and the wand I made from a stick in the yard). We used random finds from the ReStore to make a TARDIS console for M’s Doctor Who birthday party last year. There are just so many ways that thrifted pieces can make their way into your creative life.

Supplies that you gather from thrift shops don’t have to take up too much space. M has a couple of bins filled with random bits from the ReStore and a tool kit. These inspire her when she’s in the mood to tinker. Things like fabric are tucked away on a shelf in the linen closet. You may find that some thrift store finds are immediately used, the project idea already formed.

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Next week, I’m going to explore another great way to stock up your tool box without spending much money. Stay tuned!

Do you have fun thrift stores in your area? Let me know in the comments.