Thrift-store finds perfect for repurposing

Buyers and sellers alike can count on finding small items to freshen up.

After finding the color Dried Basil that Carol found was featured along with other colors in the current issue of Better Homes and Gardens Magazine painting started..jpg
Carol Thouin chose the paint color Dried Basil from the current issue of Better Homes & Gardens magazine. (Contributed photo)

Soon you will be heading off — if you haven't already — to garage, auction and flea-market sales. But thrift shops are open year-round, so you can find items to paint or recycle all year to keep or sell.

Thrift shops are inexpensive places to shop. They help the community, and some are run by charitable organizations. They keep more items out of landfills, and they are great for collectors who love furniture and other little extras. You never know, you may just strike it rich with a certain item of great value.

Thrifting can provide an adrenaline rush. You never know what you're going to spend, but you know you'll find a bargain, and so you're a “thrift-store junkie.” Don't let that scare you; think about being creative, as so much of what you can find in thrift shops can be repurposed, made-over and resold.

Thrift store buyers

Carol Thouin, of The Backyard Flea in Spring Valley: “Yes, we go thrifting, and have found a few pieces that we will use as accessories in our upcoming sale. Sometimes we refurbish things we find at thrift shops, and sometimes we use them to accessorize, such as pillows or florals. I found a very cute drop-leaf table/cart that I sanded and then put Bondz undercoat on. I chose an Earth-inspired color as featured in this month's Better Homes & Gardens magazine. This color is called Dried Basil. The tea cart will be available at our May sale, Monday, May 10, through Thursday, May 13, by appointment, and Friday and Saturday, May 14-15, open to public. 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 421 N. Huron Ave., Spring Valley, MN.”


Another final photo of this fantastic thrift-store find, the drop-leaf table-cart a Carol Thouin, Goodwill thrifty find..jpg
Carol Thouin's repurposed Goodwill find. (Contributed photo)

Shayna Dais and the girls at the Rusty Bucket in Winona told me, “Yes, we all shop those thrift stores and find furniture pieces to repaint, reupholster and refurbish. We sell a lot of small, inexpensive furniture pieces, such as chairs, side tables, bookcases, stools, and we always have a large assortment of lamps, too, at our sales, the first weekend of the month.”

Carol Loshek, of The Cottage Cupboard in Winona: “I do some purchasing at Goodwill in order to repurpose china and different containers for our spring sale with florals. The next sale will be before Mother's Day, May 6, 7 and 8.”

Angie Pehler, of Angie's Vintage Rust, located within Treasures Under Sugar Loaf in Winona: “I usually look for vintage side tables and old chairs while I'm at the local thrift stores. I like to repaint them a bright, new color, perhaps for use in a garden. I've never have a problem selling them throughout the year, at flea markets. I also look for items that are often seen on Pinterest to upcycle and resell.”

Angie Pehler, Angie's Vintage Rust usually finds some good side table and benches at the thrift stores, that she repaints in bright colors and sells..jpg
Angie Pehler, of Angie's Vintage Rust, usually finds good side tables and benches at thrift stores, which she repaints in bright colors and sells. (Contributed photo)

Melissa Placzek, a Red Wing author and collector: "I can walk just a few blocks to some thrift stores, like the Salvation Army, for one. I always tell folks that there is something magical about thrifting in this city, I don't exactly know why that is. I have been on thrift store tours by bus to the Twin Cities, and although they really do have some amazing shops up in those parts, they don't captivate me like the shops that are close by, and I always come home with some amazing deals locally.”

Thrift store in Red Wing

Stacy McConnell, manager of the Salvation Army store in Red Wing: “We have a whole section of crafts and a whole rack devoted to fabric. We get in furniture that is perfect for repurposing. I’m amazed at how many resellers there are out there now. It’s a big thing! We have people lining up out the door each morning. Which is silly, because it takes about an hour to get the items to start to flow out the back, and there is constant flow out of the processing room all day long.”


Some nice finds a great desk and hassock found with store manager Stacy McConnell, Salvation Army store, Red Wing...What a new treasures these could be....jpg
A desk and hassock at the Red Wing Salvation Army. (Contributed photos)

According to Eric Bradley, editor of many Antique Trader Antique & Collectible Price Guides, “Thrift stores, in my opinion, are outpacing antiques shops for diversity, cost and quality. It’s a generational thing. Some shops neglect to see the value, and the thrift store staff will price well under a collector’s demand.”

Sandy Erdman is a Winona-based freelance writer and certified appraiser concentrating on vintage, antique and collectible items. Send comments and story suggestions to Sandy at .

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