Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thrift Store Conventions: Addendum to Entertain

Mr. Golightly and I worked a marathon photo shoot last Saturday to document items for The previous Thrift Store Conventions: Entertain post featuring items readily found in thrift stores. Two things happened today: 1) we realized we forgot a few items and 2) I hit the thrift stores and scored. For your viewing pleasure and thrift enlightenment we offer an addendum to the initial post on Entertaining a la thrift.

These "snack sets" are a must for entertaining either at a cocktail party, a dessert party, a luncheon or a book group meeting. I bought this set of four for $2. They are still in their original box that reads “This snack set of four plates~four cups in sparking crystal glass for quick attractive service.” I love that.

Let’s grow that exponentially. You could serve, say 16 guests for $8. Consider the cost of paper plates and cups, make them pretty and sturdy. Hmm, you’re going to need more than $8 to cover that. Plus, paper plates are outright wasteful. So why not go to the thrift store, stock up on these “hospitality snack sets” and never buy a paper plate again? Have more refinement for a better environment and save money. The Elegant Thrifter writes, "I always keep odd dinner and salad plates on hand to give a guest a little something to take home. That way, they don't have to worry about returning the plate. They are also great for baked-goods gifts for the same reason. I love to say to someone who wants to return a plate, 'Why, just keep it!'"

Plate stands, like pedestals are great for entertaining. Like Louis Sullivan, they build up to add more content to the table without sacrificing real estate, $3.

All this for $1.90! I was feeling frivolous. Imagine that, frivolous for $1.90. That’s less that a latte and I get to keep the silver. If you are a connoisseur of fine dining, you may have noticed that my $4.61 place setting was missing a dainty butter knife. Bump that cost per setting to $4.71 for I hit silver plate pay dirt at the Salvation Army today! Note the dainty butter knives in my booty.

I also picked up this darling teaspoon set I just wanted to share. It was $4 and will make a lovely gift. Yes, it’s used but would you be offended to receive it? Might it not bring a smile to your face each time you measure Vanilla or Almond extract? Sonya, over at Dime Store Thrift doesn't have a hang-up with reused gifts either. She wrote a post about it today.

I must thank Mr. Golightly for humoring me tonight and snapping these extra photos. But he was pleased with this 1908 Keuffel & Esser slide rule that I picked up for $7 in it’s original case. It’s gorgeous. It’s art. It’s not planned obsolescence. It’s built to last like the old refrigerator in my grandparent’s basement that’s been running as a spare for 50 years unlike the many replacements that have come and gone from their kitchen. Currently, Mr. Golightly and I are in a tug of war over that slide rule. He wants it in his office but I want it on display in the living room.


Anonymous said...

Damn it! I'm jealous. You seem to have so much more choice in your thrift shops than we do here in Australia.That cutlery is beautiful and as for the measuring spoons - I certainly wouldn't be offended, rather I would feel extra special that someone would take the time to find something so special.

Shopping Golightly said...


I cannot deny that I am indeed lucky to live in a city that is heavy on thrift. But, I intend to take it to another level everywhere. There is too much stuff out there that that needs to be donated and not tossed in landfills. I really believe every place could have a stronger reuse market if people just started agreeing that they want to participate in reuse. Donate what you don't need, doesn't fit or you simply don't want and good things will come back to you.

But, there are days were the thrift gods aren't so generous. But I figure that, over time, my routine 10 minute recon strikes easy balance out with a conventional shoppers two days at the mall.

Both my daughters birthdays are in March. They wanted Converse tennis shoes last year. I figured that was too specific for thrift so we spent three hours in the mall comparing prices on a weekend. The experience was hell and I did my best to keep my happy face on. We went out for their favorite dinner afterward. I had an entire small bottle of sake with my sushi to help me recover from the experience and I RARELY drink. (A swig of fine brandy to warm me up on the Holiday tree hunt with Thriftfully Modern Mommies is one exception.)

Then, a week later a NEW pair of white Converse shoes with pink laces appears at Goodwill. They fit Little Pie perfectly and cost 10% of new price. I think the thrift gods were speaking directly to me that day.

Bee Balm Gal said...

I stopped at a Salvation Army thrift shop recently, a particular store I have been to many times in the past 20 years. Formerly, shelves and racks overflowed with orphaned items. Not so last week. The shelves were nearly bare, almost no furniture was on display, and the racks of clothes were quite thinned out. Clearly, here in upstate New York, the economy is inspiring people to take another look at thrifting. I love your blog because you show so nicely that second-hand can be very glamorous.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

Anne said...

Just found your blog recently and love it. I'm jealous of those spoons, especially! Can we be friends? :)

Saver Queen said...

Thank you so much for taking all those beautiful pictures and for blogging. Every single time I visit I feel happier and more inspired! Out of the entire blogosphere, this is my very favourite place to be!

I've been thrifting A LOT lately, following your advice to visit frequently. I've found a few good little items, but mostly have had lots of disappointments in the last few months. I've even gone to wealthier, nearby cities, and hunted through their stores! Did it take you a long time to accumulate all the beautiful things in your catalogue? How often do you walk out of a thrift store empty handed?

Luckily, I love the thrill of the hunt. But I'm starting to feel discouraged! Do you ever have moments like this? I am hoping that by continuing to pop in frequently my hunting will pay off with some good finds.

Shopping Golightly said...


You bettcha we can be friends! Jealous of my $4 measuring spoons? They are darling and will make someone special very happy and that makes me happy.

Saver Queen,

I've been thrifting almost exclusively for about four years. When I was single I shopped consignment on Chicago's Gold Cost and Boston's Newberry Street. It's taken about four years to acquire what I have via thrift. I still have my consignment finds from 20 years ago. Denver isn't as formal as Chicago or Boston but I'll give those clothes to my daughters before I give them up - they're gorgeous and I miss wearing them.

Almost every thing I have is thrift so it would take a very long time to photograph it all. Sometime soon I'll photo some of the items I've pulled from the alley, like my oak fainting couch.

And yes! There are days when I walk out empty handed and am annoyed. But, I can't count how many times I've been to a mall and painfully weaved through slowing moving crowds of people for hours and found nothing. I'm in a real booger of a mood when that happens. I'd rather do 3-5 10 minute weekly reconn strikes in thrift stores.

Thrifting such a great metaphor for possibilities and problem solving. It really is. So, it’s okay to walk out of a store empty handed because honest solutions are always made on demand and might take more time than we prefer. But, if you keep at it, you’ll find your solution, and if you keep and open mind, it might be something you never would have imagined.

Like anything else in life there are highs and lows. That's why I wrote posts like The Harbingers of Decline and Thrift or Miss. The only use I can think of for Billy Big Mouth Bass, the plastic mounted singing fish, is torture. Perhaps I should super glue a few Senator's Washington offices with a note that until they start to behave and direct concerns to the welfare of this nation and not their re-elections, I will put plastic fish on an instant play loop. I don't think Billy Big Mouth Bass is listed in the Geneva Convention.

I didn't mention in my last post that I had a horrific start to my day so I was determined make something good of it. So I found a lot of little solutions for not a lot of money in thrift. My big problem still needs solving but I was able to take a few things off my plate.

Persistence and an open mind will direct you to the find! Remember, just 10 minutes, unless some fantastic, cosmic donation has been made.

Saver Queen said...

Thank you SO much! I love hearing from you. You write so well - I can't wait for your book!

You're absolutely right - I cannot stand shopping in malls either. At least when I'm shopping in a thrift store I'm (usually) having fun, being creative and using my brain - it's a stimulating activity, as opposed to being stuck behind a herd of zombies in the malls and still coming out empty handed (I really, really hate that.) I've avoided retail shopping for so long now that I think I have forgotten how frustrating it can be!

Four years - Apart from the shopping I did at thrift stores in my teenage years (going through grunge and punk stages) I've only been thrifting and hunting at garage sales for the last, oh, 8 months, so I think I need to recognize that this style of shopping takes patience, and, as you frequently mention in your blog, foresight. It's a different way of approaching your needs.

One more question - how do you sufficiently analyze if there is anything new in the store in just 10 minutes? The stores are so big where I live, it takes ages to go through and see if there is anything new - I usually check out the clothing, housewares, and books, so it takes me a long time! Do you have a strategy that you use?

Thanks again for all the inspiration!

Shopping Golightly said...

Saver Queen,

You always have such good questions. As for clothes, if you go on a Monday morning, stores are typically restocking from the weekend, so the new racks are out. Fly through those new racks. I don’t spend much time in clothes because we’re not in need at the moment. But! As I have written many time, thrift taught me quality. So, take that cart and slowly walk by sweaters and dresses and look for quality fabric. Keep at it, and you’ll get to a point where you can spot cashmere on a 15ft rack with one pull, Snake Eyes. Then the funny part, you might pass on that $5 cashmere because you don’t like the color and know another sweater will be coming through. With men’s suits, go to the jacket section and squat down to see where the pants legs are hanging to direct you to the actual suits. It doesn’t take long to walk through house ware to see what’s new. I think the key is learning to hone the eyes on quality.

Saver Queen said...

Thank you so much for always answering my questions so thoroughly. You give excellent advice!!