Some time ago I compiled my top 10 tips for junk shop shopping for Craftier magazine's "Frugal Crafting" issue. For those of you who haven't had a chance to see them, here they are:
1. Get up early
Most car boot sales “officially” start at 8am, but traders get there from 6am (or earlier!) to set up - and professional bargain hunters get there at the same time to make sure they get the best bargains as soon as they are unwrapped.
2. Don’t rush
Charity shops, thrift stores, junk shops and car boots all have one thing in common - if you’re going to find a bargain you have to be patient. Set aside a good amount of time so you can have a proper dig around without feeling you have to rush back to your desk.
3. Learn to haggle
Just because there is a price on a tag doesn’t mean that’s what you have to pay. Go lower than you are willing to pay and hopefully they will meet you in the middle - or even agree to your first offer!>/p>
4. Befriend your charity shop manager - part one
Charity shops get donated all sorts of stuff - some is great and some is rubbish. Broken jewellery would normally be binned - but crafters could give it a new lease of life. Ask the manager if he or she will set broken pieces aside for you to buy at a cheap price - and you’re helping charity!
5. Keep your eyes open
I once found a beautiful but damaged vintage rhinestone brooch in the middle of a field after a horse show. Now it’s a gorgeous new necklace.
6. Do your research
Particularly important if you are buying online - it will help you spot the difference between a real vintage piece and reproduction. Learn which names to look out for, like Coro, Krementz and Sarah Coventry.
7. Don’t let a bit of dirt put you off
What can initially look like a grubby bit of junk could turn out to be a sparkling treasure after a little warm water, washing up liquid and a soft toothbrush.
8.Befriend you charity shop owner - part two
Ask the manager at your local charity shop what days they usually put new stock out on. Then you can be the first to scope out the bargains.
9.Be open minded
Will that horrible looking dress make a quirky cushion? Can you customise that quilted handbag and make it look like Chanel? Always be aware that an initially unpromising item could be reworked into something cool.
This is particularly true at car boot sales - if you walk away from an item to think about whether you want it be prepared for it not to be there when you go back. Snap up bargains quickly - you can always give them to your local charity shop if they turn out to be no good.