There are just certain things that I refuse to buy at a big-box stores. First off, I believe that one way of expressing myself is through what I put in my home--and there's just nothing unique about having the same items as everyone else. Also, I figure that if I can find just as good quality for a lesser price, I'd be dumb not to save my money. So I've decided to make a list of a few things that I only buy second hand. I'm sure I've left some out but here's what I could think up.
First off are picture frames, and specifically table top frames. Target may have some cute 4x6 or 5x7 frames, but starting at $12.99? No thank you. All frames pictured above are thrifted and each of them were bought at nothing higher than $5. Now, there is one exception this, and that (of course) is TJ Maxx, Marshall's or Home Goods (see my tips for shopping at off-price retailers here). Table top frames are sooooo cute at these stores and I can almost always find them at the same price that I would pay at a thrift store. In fact sometimes I've found them CHEAPER. True story.
For larger frames I still check my local thrift stores first and generally the price difference between these and any big-box store is much more dramatic. I was at Re-Store last week and saw frames that were no smaller than 16x20 that were priced at $3.99. Frames can so easily be customized to your own style too, whether you embellish them with something, paint them or even use stencils.
Old books make accessorizing a lot easier. Plus they just add so much character to a room. I mean right? I love to look for fun colors, designs and fonts. Re-creations of old books are kind of silly and never really appear authentic, but that is my own opinion. I like the old to look old and the new to look new. Plus old books are so easy to find and generally are only a few bucks.
I have never been interested in buying a simple wooden chair, a small nightstand or end table, or even an ottoman from a big-box store. They are usually cheaply made and over priced. Way back when I was first shopping for an ottoman, I searched high and low and just couldn't find one that I was willing to pay $70+ for. This sweet, buttery, camel colored, leather, vintage one above was one I found for $2 at a thrift store. Although I'll admit that it was frustrating to wait so long to find one, in the end it was well worth it. Small furniture are an abundance on Craigslist, so many styles and types available and always for a great price.
Decorative vases and bowls are everywhere. Again, another item I can find under $10 second hand and for 3x that much at the store. I love finding beautiful bowls or trays to store jewelry, candy or whatever. And who doesn't love vases?
Accessories. On this one, it's not really that I am opposed to buying them elsewhere but it's so easy to stumble upon beautiful and unique items in junk shops or antique stores. Figurines can be painted or polished and small trinkets (that are so necessary for vignette styling) can be used in their wonderful and original state.
Art and mirrors are some other things that I love to look for at thrift shops too! :)