I've never been much of a thrift store or Craigslist shopper. I totally envy the folks that are and marvel at the "look what I found!" photos on their blogs and Instagram feeds. It's such an artform, and something I didn't know if I'd have the patience for.
Turns out, I sort of do. I started searching Craigslist right after we knew we'd be getting our San Diego house because I knew I would need and want different furniture to fill it. So far, I have only found one big piece, the chair I shared earlier this week (which isn't vintage so much as awesome).
Craigslist is a beast. It's overwhelming and you have to look through loads of junk to find the gems. I found this post from Emily Henderson super inspiring and helpful. When I am looking, I search specific things like "wood dining table" or "bookshelf" or "bench." I also search "fiddle leaf fig" almost daily as well as "indoor tree" because I have my fingers crossed someone is going to need to move across the country and want to sell their giant plants for cheap. "Mid century" is also a frequently searched term, but there is always an insane amount of junk and $1700 coffee tables to wade through. This general search term is how I found my plant stand, art, candlesticks and mirror though - so I think my three months of casual browsing have been worth it.
I am very careful with Craigslist and don't make plans to go and pick up something unless I have someone with me. I negotiate the price in advance and bring cash. You can sometimes tell by the photos and way the listing is phrased if this is a legit situation or something not worth wasting time on. And of course if anything about the correspondence feels off, I don't even consider making the purchase.
When I feel like driving around and looking, I like to visit some of the used furniture stores in the San Diego area. Not all are awesome. Not all are even close to affordable. But many are so fun to wander through. I spent a lot of time on yelp when I first got here, figuring out what stores might be worth dropping in on (turns out they almost all are and I have many more I'd like to visit). Below are I have enjoyed and recommend so far :
- Stuff (where I found the dresser for the baby's room)
- Mid-Century Design (where I found my huge black and white rug)
- The Atomic Bazaar (last time I went during the week it was closed unless you called and set up an appointment, but they had cool big pieces the first time I went)
- Rusty Gold (this is a quirky shop located in a residential neighborhood that fills two shipping containers - they have a blog with photos of new pieces)
- a stroll down India Street in Little Italy is worth it too. There are a few used shops and a few normal stores. The deals are not great, but it's totally fun to window-shop and you never know... we bought our white trunk at India Street Antiques two years ago when we lived here.
I have started visiting local Goodwills and my favorite (and only!) finds so far have been a wooden elephant for the baby's room, a woven basket for the indoor tree I have let to find and two ceramic mugs. Not huge scores, by any means, but under $10 total so that's a win.
My biggest thing when I am searching online or sifting through things in person is to not let the "deal" or perceived deal cloud my judgement and therefore accidentally end up buying crap. I am constantly asking myself :
- Do I know where this will go in my house?
- Do I love it more than what I already have?
- Is whatever I am looking at equal or better to everything else I already own?
- Would I pay twice as much for it?
- Have I ever seen anything like it?
In general, if I have to stop and think too hard about it, it's not the right fit. But if I can answer yes, yes, yes, yes and no to the above questions it's usually something I should jump on. I'm not yet great at scoring the BEST deals in the world, but I am pretty good at being realistic about what's good and what's bad and leaving the store empty handed.
I'm still such a newbie at this, but I'm enjoying the hunt so much. I love my collected treasures.