• Joan Wilkening

Shopping Tips for Pre-Loved Treasures - Part I

Updated: Jun 11, 2018

I love a good bargain. Even more, I love a good bargain that I can clean, fix, re-purpose and

re-sell for a profit. Thrift stores, Estate Sales, Yard Sales, Auctions, Tag Sales, Flea Markets and Bazaars are fabulous places to search for treasures. Remember a few tips and soon you’ll be flipping someones else's castoffs for profit.

  • Charge your phone because you’ll be taking pictures & googling for more info.

  • Use a cross body bag to keep your hands free or securely strap your purse in the seat of the cart with the child safety belt.

  • Check the sale signs or ask the staff what’s on reduced.

  • Know the markdown day, store App, and get on the email list.

  • Visit Thrift Stores on Tuesday and Wednesday, they’re stocked from the weekend drop-offs and it’s less crowded.

  • Shop the last couple weeks of December, folks are making last minute donations for the year end tax receipt.

  • Touch it, smell it, test it, look it over and over.

  • Follow the stocking cart as it’s rolled out of the back.

  • Cheap doesn’t make it better if you have to put too much time into it.

  • Carry hand-sanitizer, water bottle, magnifying glass, tissues and a measuring tape.

  • Bring your energy, stay open minded and have fun!

Picture Frames

Look past the painting and the subject matter! Wood, curvy and carved frames look fabulous painted, glazed and waxed or dry brushed. Toss the glass, because it’s difficult to cut and resize, remove the mat and hanger. Floral prints removed from the frame look great propped on a ledge or table. Make sure frame corners are strong and intact.


Mixing bowls, serving bowls, casserole dishes, refrigerator/icebox dishes (especially with the lid) in Vintage colors (blue, yellow, orange) are my favorite. I love the quote “If it’s brown, put it down”! Stay away from pieces with lots of scratches or faded colors, hand wash all patterned pieces. I love sets of three or more sizes! Remove the lid and any tape to run your hand all around the rims to check for chips or cracks. And, it should say “Pyrex” on the bottom.


Tall or small I love them all! White milk pitchers or short creamers they’re simple, useful and make such a statement on a shelf with their handles all facing the same direction. Be sure to check for cracks and chips. Add a few flowers for a centerpiece vase.


Loonie Tunes, jelly jars, Snoopy and all the old cartoon characters and McDonald giveaways are great collectibles. Remember anything with a design should be hand washed! Most will have the year stamped on it.


My favorite scarves are “travel” souvenir patterns and signed designs from the US and other countries. I love 1950’s cotton scarves with maps, advertising or city highlights. Silk scarves from France, Italy and Germany are really lovely and Vintage scarves from Japan and Hong Kong are usually very colorful. Don’t throw them in the washing machine!


White cotton gloves are a classic from the 1950’s and older. A woman never left the house without her gloves! I love crisp, clean white gloves with buttons, sometimes a row, sometimes just one. And leather driving gloves are nice, too. And, opera length gloves in a variety of colors because they always matched the purse and shoes!


A lady always had an apron for every occasion whether for cooking and cleaning, hostess, holiday or honeymoon. I love the bib style apron with a nice ruffle running along the edge of the strap, two big pockets and a long crisp tie for a perfect bow in back. You can always tell a hostess “half style” apron because it never got dirty, it was worn for serving the family and the guests. And then there’s the lacy and satin worn by the new bride. Always check for stains and holes.


From shakers, swizzle sticks, stirrers, strainers, patterned glasses, and travel sets make this category fun to collect. Be sure the patterns are bright and intact especially around the rim (never put in the dishwasher), colors are more popular than gold and I always look for multiples of two with a minimum of four. Travel cases with the contents are highly desirable. Unless they are really unusual I avoid souvenir shot glasses.

Silverware/Flatware/SP (silver-plate)

Forks (all sizes), teaspoons and ice tea spoons are my favorite. Intricate patterns and monogrammed are so pretty! And of course serving spoons, pie and cake servers and ladles are desirable, too. Watch for “pitting” and worn plating, the surface should be smooth, tarnished is okay because it can always be polished-but who has the time? I like tarnished trays especially with feet and handles for displaying various sizes of SP candle sticks. Serving dishes (chafing, casserole etc.) are not as collectible.


I love old games but be sure all the pieces are inside the box. Avoid boxes with tape keeping them closed because the tape rips and peals the paper. Even the pieces to games (especially Scrabble and Monopoly) are also desirable and collectible.

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