5+ how & where tips for finding amazing vintage decor

I recently had a few people ask me to share the how and the where for finding the best in vintage decor. I’m not going to share the exact location of my favorite thrift store. You might get there before I do and get that one highly sought after piece that looks like it has never been used or even out of the original box. With that said, you have to get out there and find your own favorite Salvation Army / thrift store. Here are a few of my favorites and some tips to assist you on your hunting expedition.

tips for finding vintage decor in the wild

GO OFTEN – you have to practice the art of hunting vintage decor. You can’t go once a quarter and expect to have the skills necessary to spot the best pieces on site. Sometimes we will hit our favorite thrift store 2 to 3 times per week. I’m surprised they haven’t added a desk in the office for me. They don’t know my name at the bar, but they sure do at the Salvation Army.

LOOK HIGH & LOW – Look on the very bottom shelf in the very back, and then way way up. If you’re short like me, you probably forget to look up. If it weren’t for my 6′ 1″ husband I would have missed out on some amazing treasures. One in particular was a gold Christmas tree stand with glitter that spins in circles while singing Christmas carols. How could I ever survive without it?!

DELIVERY SCHEDULES – There is nothing worse than driving out of the thrift store parking lot, loaded down with your finds for the day, only to see the delivery truck bringing a semi truck full of awesome. Try to learn their delivery days and approximate times and (sort of) plan around that.

50% DAYS – On a very regular basis, seems to be at least once a week, the Salvation Army has a 50% off sale. Depending on the store, that 50% may even include the red tag items (red tag = collection). In addition to store wide sales, the store manager can schedule a sale if they are overloaded with inventory. If you’re nice to the staff they may just give you a heads up when their next sale is. BUT if your timing is a bit off, do NOT put that vintage metal basket weave purse with the bakelite top & handle back on the shelf and expect it to be there until the next sale. Don’t second guess yourself, snatch that (insert your favorite vintage treasure here) and run to the cash register.

Head Vase and Metal Basket Weave Purse - thrift store shopping tips

DO NOT LEAVE YOUR CART UNATTENDED – It’s happened to me a few times…while I’m crouched down looking for goodies on the bottom shelf. I have actually had things snatched from my shopping cart. Un-Fricken-Believable!

ROAD TRIP THRIFTING – During your next road trip stop and check out the local thrift stores. Sometimes it can be a total win like the time we were in Maui and we found a complete set of Pyrex restaurantware dishes with turquoise banding. Sometimes it can be a complete bust, but at least you know for sure.

You’ve got some tips, now the where of vintage shopping? Below are some of my favorite in each category: thrift store, flea market, estate sale, online.

THRIFT STORE – if you haven’t figure it out already I heart Salvation Army. Not just any Salvation Army, I’m lucky to have two of the best SA stores within a few miles of me. I like you, but I just cannot divulge the store locations. Tip: In addition to the large chain thrift stores, don’t forget to check out your local Assistance League thrift store, or even the Tag Sales at a near by church.

FLEA MARKET – My bucket list includes a lot of flea markets I want to visit; check out this post by Invaluable to see some of the great markets out there. Some day we will take our little vintage trailer out on a cross country tour; we will hit flea markets by day, and by night have a beer and a hot dog at Jerry’s bucket list of baseball stadiums. Until that happens, my favorite flea market is Long Beach, CA – held the 3rd Sunday of each month. Some would say their favorite is The Rose Bowl Flea Market in Pasadena, CA – held the 1st Sunday of each month. A lot of vendors sell at both, but increase their prices the closer they get to Pasadena.

Tips for thrifting vintage decor

ESTATE SALES – If you have read a couple of my blogs, you know my source for finding local estate sales (estatesales.org & estatesales.net). After shopping estate sales for quite sometime, I actually have a favorite estate sale company. I swear we find some of the best vintage everything at Grasons Co. estate sales. Tip: If you couldn’t fit everything in your shopping bag on day one of the sale, be sure to go back the final day. The final day of the sale is usually when all items are marked half off. Another TIP:  Just because it’s the last day of the sale does not mean that all the good vintage is gone. You may find the vintage piece of a lifetime, and at half off!

GARAGE SALES – In Orange County California there is an awesome little community called Balboa Island. Once a year they hold an Island wide annual garage sale. Mark your calendar for April; I don’t know the exact weekend, but Google does.

Thrift store and Estate Sale Shopping Tips

There is one other place to shop vintage. I should probably input Etsy here since I have a shop and all, but I have to be honest, my favorite online vintage decor shopping is on Instagram. There is a boat load of sellers on IG. Go to the search option and input hashtags such as #vintageshopping #vintagestore #vintagefurnitureforsale – keep looking until you hit your jackpot.

Be sure to share some of your tips for finding your favorite genre of vintage. I’d love to hear all about it.



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9 thoughts on “5+ how & where tips for finding amazing vintage decor

    • Atomic Hostess says:

      That’s a bummer their prices are high. I was in Goodwill yesterday and could not believe how high theirs are. Yikes! AND our Goodwill carries so much Target housewares good, it’s really kind of weird. Maybe an Assistance League will be better?? Good luck finding the perfect spot.


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