How to Find Great Pieces Online and In Thrift Stores

thrifting tips thrifted home

Thrifting has been part of my life since I was a little girl.  Whenever we’d go visit my grandparents a trip to the local thrift stores with my grandmother and mom was always on the itinerary. Thrifting is definitely in my blood!  It’s often a fruitless activity and requires diligence, but the joy of finding a treasure makes it absolutely worth it.  Many of my favorite pieces in our home were purchased at thrift stores and then I updated them with a coat of paint…the key to thrifting is to keep an open mind and seek out that diamond in the rough.  Some of my favorite thrift store finds include: our tall faux bamboo dresser, the low faux bamboo dresser, our Chinese Chippendale dining chairs, the faux bamboo vanity, the campaign dresser/hutch, a bamboo ladder and faux bamboo nesting tables, my pair of pink wingback chairs, our vintage blue willow plates, and a handful of other things like ginger jars, a garden stool, lamps, and decorative items.

Tips for Shopping at Thrift Stores and on Facebook Marketplace

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my top is from Pearly Vine and code WHIMSY will save you 10% (c/o)

blue and white lamp rattan tray blue and white decor

Over the past few years I’ve also gotten into Facebook Marketplace, and while I haven’t scored a ton of things that way, I’m constantly on the lookout and wish I had a giant warehouse to keep all the things that have caught my eye!  Top Facebook Marketplace finds include our double BOB jogging stroller, our chinoiserie rattan headboard, and most recently, the Victorian marble top dresser, as seen in this blog post.

chinoiserie garden stool spring outfit

Here are a few tips to help you find the best things in thrift stores and on websites like Facebook Marketplace (Craigslist is a great source too but I prefer Facebook because you can see a little more about the person before you make the exchange).

Identify Your Style.

Learn what catches your eye.  Is your style more classic and traditional?  Or is it more modern or boho?  Study design books, Pinterest, Instagram photos, magazines, etc. to see what it is that gravitate towards, and see if you can find some commonalities.  This will help you know what it is that you’re looking for and allow you to see potential in something even if it’s sitting in a junky thrift store or flea market.  If you’ll be searching online then learn the exact words to describe your style and names of the specific items that you like.  Doing your homework makes for more successful thrifting!

Make a List.

If it’s helpful, consider making a list of things you’re hunting for.  Searching for a vintage faux bamboo dresser or a blue and white ginger jar?  Add that to your list on the Notes app on your phone so that you always remember what it is that you’re looking for!  You never know when you’ll stumble across a gem.  I’ve had a running list going for years, and I’m currently on the hunt for vintage twin headboards (I plan to have the girls share a room one day and I love the look of matching twin beds).

Check Your Stores Often.

One thing that’s for sure is that thrifting takes some dedication and you’ve got to stick with it.  I make the rounds of my local thrift stores weekly (if I’m able to) and often leave empty handed.  But occasionally I’ll find a true treasure and that always leaves me coming back for more!  I prefer to visit early in the week because after the weekend is over that seems to be when the stock has been updated.

Plan Your Visit.

My trips through thrift stores are pretty quick, often 10 minutes or less if I don’t find anything.  My first order of business is to head to the homeware section, where I’ll check out the dishes, decorative items, baskets, etc.  Furniture is always on my list, as is the lamp section.  Clothing isn’t really my priority, but I will sometimes browse the “boutique” area where the nicer brands are at the front of the store.

Look For Potential.

Often times the things you find at thrift stores, flea markets and online will need a little love.  Don’t let that dissuade you!  Sometimes a little elbow grease, Bar Keeper’s Friend, or a coat of paint can fix them right up.  And if you’re hunting online then don’t be distracted by what else happens to be in the photo.  Sometimes junk can be really distracting but try to look past it to see the actual item.

Check for Quality.

For furniture you want to check hinges, drawers, and everything that’s structural.  Dovetail joints on drawers are always a great indicator of a well made piece.  Things like paint or rattan wraps (and even fabric) can be addressed without too much effort, but the piece itself needs to be solid.

Compare with Prices Online.

Whenever I find something I almost always check online to see if I’m getting a good deal or not.  I often just Google the type of item it is and compare it to similar listings online.  If it’s cheaper online I won’t get it.  I like to thrift to get really good deals, and high priced items are not my thing!

Narrow Down Your Search Terms.

Below are my go-to terms while searching on Facebook Marketplace.  I recommend saving items that catch your eye because it’ll help Facebook continue to serve you items that are similar.  It learns your preferences through its algorithm, so put it to work for you!  These are also the types of items I’m searching for in thrift stores and at flea markets, with the addition of fun brass knickknacks and other things that catch my eye.

faux bamboo





blue and white

marble furniture

antique chest

blue willow

Ballard Designs

Serena and Lily

ginger jar

vintage dresser


garden stool

antique furniture

vintage furniture

Chinese chippendale

campaign furniture

campaign dresser




wingback chair



vintage rug



Have you had thrifting or Marketplace luck lately?  I’d love to hear about your biggest second-hand treasures!

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Katie Vail
Katie Vail

Find me on: Web | Instagram | Facebook

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