I’m re-opening our Etsy shop soon, so of course I’ve been doing some treasure hunting. I also rummaged through my grandmother’s impressive haul of vintage goodies and am now staring at a five foot tall stack of boxes filled with fabulous finds that I have to research, measure, photograph and list. While I’m doing this, I’ve got treasure hunting on the brain.
I think a lot about the ethics of thrifting. Is that weird? You might have already gleaned, I am an avid treasure hunter. I hit yard sales almost every Saturday in the warm weather months, I hit estate sales monthly, thrift stores weekly, and antique shops every now and then. I like to decorate our townhome with vintage finds, of course, but I also love the experience of treasure hunting. I always go with a friend or Hubs, but my grandma got me hooked, so when I’m in my hometown, she’s my yard-saling buddy. My Mom and I are a pretty awesome treasure hunting duo too. I opened an Etsy shop with my Mom to sell some treasures we loved but just don’t have space for. Actually, our rule when stocking the shop is: “if I had a bigger house, would I keep this?” The answer has to be an emphatic YES for it to go in the shop.
I love finding nifty things (and sharing them with people!), but sometimes I feel guilty.
The guilt source: I’m not poor.
Hubs makes a tidy little income and I’m no chump either. I don’t need to buy steeply discounted goods to decorate my home. I have a lovely home and plethora of pretty things. Frankly, there’s little in this world I “need” because our house is pretty packed. But there are people who don’t have a lot of money and I think they deserve a shot at a home that makes them feel comfy too, and sometimes a little vase or nice drinking glasses could be just the thing to make a home cheery (and, well, practical because glasses are pretty damn handy)!! Am I taking this joy away from people in need by being a thrifting monster?
The rationale: there’s enough to go around.
I figure, there seems to be an endless supply of stuff people don’t want. I think there’s enough to go around. I’ve never seen a thrift shop or yard sale devoid of stuff. But still, when I walk into a thrift shop with my Dooney and Bourke bag (from T.J. Maxx, mind you) and next to me is a woman who is carrying a torn canvas sac instead of a purse, trying to pool together enough change for a casserole dish, I feel a little spoiled. Am I alone???
The guilt source: plus I am selling it!
Yup, some of my Etsy shop items are from thrift shops, yard sales, estate sales, etc. Sometimes our prices are on par with what we paid (like if it’s something we bought at an antique shop, and just want to break even), but sometime we charge more than we paid. I feel guilty!! Especially when people think evil thoughts about this kind of transaction, like a commenter on 8 foot 6.
The rationale: it’s a service, too.
My Dad told me not to think of the etsy shop as just goods – we are providing a service, too. Not everyone (like Hubs for example) relishes pawing through stinky stuff in a stinky thrift store or estate sale to pluck out that one gem and then spend an hour scrubbing it clean. I spend hours researching and photographing items for sale. Sometimes it takes hitting five yard sales over two years to complete set of dishes. Plus, I’m pretty hardcore about this sometimes. I wake up at 6:00am (or earlier) on Saturdays. I have waited for 3 hours for an estate sale to open. I hit thrift stores all over North America, even on vacation. If someone in Nova Scotia is missing a plate from their set (remember how worked up I was?) and I find the missing piece in Minnesota, isn’t it awesome I can throw it up on etsy and the two can meet?? Or let’s not forget the salad server miracle.
Frankly, it’s way more work than I thought when I opened the shop, so I think should make a little money. But, I do tend to price things under their “market value,” to keep great vintage pieces within reach. And feel less guilt.
The guilt source: I am a taker.
So in addition to finding cool stuff I love, I’m turning a small profit. I’ve found awesomely valuable stuff for pennies. I feel like a taker.
The rationale: my purchase does good.
Many thrift stores have a somewhat altruistic mission. Value Village, although a profit machine, purchases donations made to not-for-profit organizations. The Salvation Army supports its communities. Sometimes even buying something can keep sweet finds from making their way into landfills if they don’t find another person to love them (or find them in time).
I’m sure there are lots of other aspects I could agonize over, but this is on my mind right now. Do you ever think about this? At the end of the day, though, it’s just stuff, so I’m not going to get terribly worked up about this. While I ponder (and list stuff), here’s a little eye peek at what will be for sale soon. And, if you’re on the hunt for treasures but feel guilty too, try flea
markets! I found a great article on flea market shopping tips on Ryan Homes. I find flea markets are that happy middle road between (higher) antique store prices and the sometimes disappointing thrift shops. Remember my deals from the flea market in Hungary?
|We’re adding more textiles, including aprons and vintage table linens.|
|Set of 6 shot glasses with circle/square pattern|
|Vintage wall hanging (tea towel) with metric conversions – easily removed from frame for use|
|Depression glass set of liqueur glasses|
|Full set (with original box) of glasses made of pure sunshine and awesomeness.|
|Funky bar set, I think these handles are bakelite|
|Amber pendant with 8K gold setting|
|Glasses I want so badly|