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Online Thrifting Tips from Secondhand Savvy!

I think it's safe to say that after spending nearly ALL our time inside, many of have gotten really comfortable with our homes. So comfortable that, if you're anything like me, you're ready to ditch a lot of your current furniture and decor for a fresh start! I'm super passionate about up-cycling, thrifting and antique furniture, and have been really missing the thrill of the hunt. Furniture and decor shopping can be time consuming and somewhat tricky to do currently, so I wanted to loop in a pro with the best insight on secondhand, online shopping. I connected with Ashley (@SecondhandSavvy) on Instagram and we became fast friends, bonding over everything from classing style to stain fighting and removing monograms from thrifted clothes. She's a wealth of knowledge and creativity, and truly loves shopping secondhand! I hope this interview inspires you as much as it did me.

What are your top tips for shopping on Facebook Marketplace/secondhand furniture shopping? 

Facebook Marketplace has really started booming in the past year or so, and it's something people feel is slightly more safe than Craigslist and allows you to browse from home, unlike thrift stores. When I first started shopping on FB marketplace, I was lost as to how to find the "good stuff!" A tip from my friend Lindsay at @myeclecticabode was to search for what you like and the algorithm will follow. After trying this for over 6 months, I would say that is the biggest help! I also like to make sure I'm comfortable with their general pick up area and see if we have any friends in common. This is not a fool proof security measure, but if the person has no personal pictures or friends in common with me, I'm more wary to buy from them. Definitely always take a buddy with you when picking up! (Safety first, I've never had any issues, but still!) I'm also a big fan of thrift stores, like Goodwill and Habitat for Humanity ReStores (both often have a lot of furniture options), if you'd like to shop in person.

Are there any search terms or keywords you have found to have the best results? 

Use general search terms of things you like, whether that's an actual item or an aesthetic. When you search something general like "bamboo" or "table," it will show you search results from your area. Whatever you actually click on to see more, the algorithm will pick up on, and tend to show you more items like that. So be careful when clicking on things to look at, make sure it's something you are actually interested in, so that Facebook will continue to show you items you might like. It curates at the top of the page what it thinks you might be most interested in. (Normally, I would find this very creepy, but it's also very helpful! haha) Less is more when it comes to the terms, you want it to pick up on anything that could fall under that look. Always filter by "date listed-newest first" to get the first look at things.

Are there any "hacks" like setting alerts or anything like that you have found? 

I haven't found a way to set alerts, but I will say just like any thrifty shopping, you have to look often. I tend to look 3 times a day for a few minutes (which might seem like a lot!). Do whatever works best for you! There does tend to be an influx of new listings on the weekends when people are at home and have more time to list, so know that while there is more to see on the weekends, there are also more people shopping. You have to be quick to message a seller on those amazing items! If there are multiple people interested in an item, I've found it helps to mention that you are willing to pick up and pay ASAP. (Unfortunately, a lot of people can be flakey on pick ups, so it helps to be proactive!)

Do you have any best practices for picking up furniture (safety wise)?

I am always a proponent of bringing someone with you to pick things up, even if it's just a porch pick up! Many people feel more comfortable meeting in a public place, like a Target parking lot, but I know some sellers prefer the ease of someone just picking it up from their home. I tend to only buy from people who use real profile pictures and possibly have friends in common with me Facebook. Although I have found some amazing items on FB marketplace, I am in a few smaller local Facebook selling groups where the members are vetted, so the safety is more comfortable because I tend to have tons of friends of friends on that page. If you're unsure of if this exists in your area, ask your friends if they belong to any local selling pages OR search general terms in the search tab on Facebook such as "Raleigh buy sell trade" or "Raleigh furniture resale" etc. 

Any ideas on how to creatively use things you buy? (Two of my favorite projects of Ashley's have been painting over framed art and the coasters she mentioned below!)

For repurposing items, I think you have to make sure that the base of what you're working with

is a well made, solid piece. Whether that's a solid wood table, custom framed art piece, or fabric that has stood the test of time, I've found that to repurpose, it's got to be hearty! I am a HUGE fan of Annie Sloan's chalk paint. It's not the cheapest, but it's the best, easiest to work with, and a little goes a long way. It's amazing how paint and some new hardware can totally change up an item! If your budget is tight and you're up for some DIY art, finding a large canvas or artwork secondhand for a steal can allow you to get crafty and make a big impact in a room for a small amount of cash. I also recently found the most beautiful floral vintage sheets and couldn't leave them behind. For $3, I have a TON of fabric to get crafty with. I already made some coasters and am hoping to get a caftan made sometime soon. 

Do you have any best practices for cleaning or once you have something in your home? 

Definitely. Before taking something home, don't be afraid to take your time glancing it over for additional wear or smells you might not have been aware of! You don't have to take the item if it is not as described. For wood or smooth surfaces, I will use my basic home cleaner or soap and water to do a once over for any dust or grime, whether I'm going to paint it or not. Smoke smells can be very stubborn, so I wouldn't pick up an item that has a strong smoke smell, but if it has a moth ball/musty smell, just set the item outside/in your garage for a few days with some dryer sheets and that should help a lot! This isn't a fool proof plan, but I pay close attention to how the item is photographed to help me get a sense of the life of the item. Is the picture dimly lit from someone's garage? You're probably taking a gamble on how it might appear or smell in real life. Is it photographed in someone's home that looks loved and lived in? I'm more likely to be comfortable with buying that, because you can see it's been taken care of. 

What are some of the best finds you have gotten from a site like FB Marketplace or Craigslist? 

Around 5 years ago, before FB Marketplace was a thing, we bought an entire Pottery Barn dining room set for $1,000 that was still in stores for over $5,000. It ended up being from a local professor who was downsizing, so it was a wonderful experience and we were able to use that set until recently when we wanted to change that space up. Not my cheapest find, but it was exactly what we were looking for at the time. I bought a set of vintage chairs for my kitchen table that were a perfect match to the wood and recovered them myself with fabric I bought on eBay. I am constantly changing things around in my house with my secondhand finds, so there have been so many more purchases, but often I end up fixing them up a little, selling them, and buying another new-to-me item. There are so many benefits to buying secondhand, but one I find that is fun for me is I almost never lose money on an item. I get a great deal, love it for a while, then sell it and make my money back, and on to the next thing!   So there you have it- a sneak peek inside of the brain of a pro-thrifter, and SO many fun ideas to get you started refreshing your space without changing out of your jammies!


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