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Revamp With Resale Stores

Secondhand stores offer value and repurposing for home furnishings

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

Gently used furniture available at Oswego Thrifty Shopper Store.

If you want to refresh or even redo your home décor, a second-hand store can help you create a new look for the new year.  You have many reasons to feel good about finding home furnishings at a resale store.

“Obviously, reduce, reuse, recycle; that’s huge personally,” said Kristin Griffin, manager at Thrifty Shopper in Oswego. Thrifty Shopper operates 22 stores across the region.  “You save things from going into a landfill.”

Why buy new when used will do?

Many thrift stores support charitable causes. Purchases at Thrifty Shopper help support Rescue Mission Alliance, for example.

Some shoppers like to peruse the thrift store to find crafting supplies for their home projects. Griffin has a number of shoppers who buy jewelry not to wear, but to repurpose into decorative uses. A costume jewelry necklace could make a sparkling curtain tieback. Or the stones from costume jewelry rings could accent a picture frame.

Item available for sale at Oswego Thrifty Shopper Store.

“We get a lot of wall art donated,” Griffin said. “Lots of times, people buy an item for a beautiful frame and not the art in it.”

The quality of the furnishings draws many people to buy thrifted décor items.

“We find that a lot of people donate older items, which means that a lot of the furniture pieces are gems,” Griffin said. “It’s easy to strip something old and turn it into something new. The items have to be of good quality for us to sell them. We have a few pieces left over from an estate sale. There are things people don’t find value in, but given the right buyer, it’s the best thing in the world to them.”

Many shoppers go to secondhand stores to find better values. Brands and materials otherwise unaffordable are now within budget, such as a crystal vase. Griffin has one regular customer who owns several places of lodging that she has decorated solely with thrift items.

Shopping thrift can help decorators build an eclectic, lived-in look that’s very popular now, rather than a forced, overly matched appearance. Bland, monochromatic “basic” decor lacks the story and character of mismatched yet coordinating items anchored by an interesting statement piece. Unique items are easy to find, as many times, they are donated from various estates.

Interior of Sequels Home Furnishings in Rochester. The store offers a variety of gently used items.

“We always have an abundance of tchotchkes,” said Laura Bigness treasurer at St. James Thrift Shop in Skaneateles. “We’ve had record sales lately.”

The organization raises funds through the thrift shop to support local and international charitable causes. Shoppers can look for vases, figurines and pictures, as well as old china dishes.

“A lot of younger people aren’t interested in their parents’ fine china,” Bigness said. “More and more are using pieces of it for a craft project. At Christmas, they’re buying platters and fancy plates as part of a gift with cookies or a cake on it. It’s a nice way to make a presentation.”

Sometimes, the chinaware includes brands like Royal Doulton and other well-known brands.

“We do a lot of research here,” Bigness said. “We have a couple of antique dealers who’ve been very good at helping us by suggesting prices and the value. Like we had an expensive tapestry donated. We only charge maybe a quarter of what someone would sell at a retail store. You’re bound to get very good deals at a thrift shop. We price them to sell and don’t keep things longer than four months and then donate them to the Rescue Mission.”


How to Find the Right Item

Josh Gideon is the owner of Gideon’s Gallery in Syracuse.

To find good home décor and furnishings at a thrift store, try these tips from Josh Gideon, owner of Gideon’s Gallery in Syracuse:

• “Look for real furniture from wood, not composite,” Gideon said. “If a piece has been here for 100 years, it speaks for itself. It was made well. You can’t say that with a lot of contemporary pieces.

• “Look at the construction. You have multiple ways a drawer can be jointed. It’s easier to put together something made properly than something wood glued and tack-nailed together. Look at how it’s made. Allen bolts will wiggle loose.

• “There’re brands that typically have notoriety that are making products of nicer quality. It helps if you know a specific brand. Stickley, for example.

• “Faux leather will last a few years. I’d rather find something that is better quality.”