Revamping Thrift Store Finds into Garden Art

Today I’m sharing a simple upcycle project that took over a year to get just right.  It started when I spotted this decorative finial at the thrift store the winter before last.  It was only a couple bucks and super heavy.  I’d seen similar shaped pieces sell for much more like this one and thought I could create a knock off version with this piece.  Here’s the quick before picture I remembered to snap just before the makeover began.

I used some grey spray paint I had on hand to give it a new look.  It was definitely an improvement, but I thought it still needed more texture.  I put it out on the deck to see if any ideas came to mind, but then got busy with other projects and never did more to it last summer.

This spring, as I prepped items for the yard I decided to give it another makeover while I was white washing some terracotta pots.  I gave it a quick dry brush with the same white paint and instantly fell in love with the look it created.

Now it looks like it’s made of concrete, just like the inspiration example!  It adds just the right amount of style to this corner of the deck where it compliments the potted plants.

And because it’s so heavy it can stand up to the dogs, so it’s placement here is also strategic.  It keeps them from jumping off the deck onto my plants in the flower bed below.  Pretty and functional all for a few dollars and a little paint. That’s my kind of makeover!


Goodwill Grand Opening


Last week Goodwill opened a new thrift store just a few blocks from where I work!  Although there are several Salvation Army thrift stores around town this is the first Goodwill.  I’ve had great experiences at their stores in the lower 48, so I was pretty excited to see what it was like here.  I’m happy to say that they met my expectations and exceeded a few too!


The first thing they did right is choosing a good location.  Not only is it near my work (extra points for that!) the building is massive and has great parking.  It was previously a sports equipment store so the interior is newer and wide open.  They even have enough space to use half of the store as the donation center, which includes a cover you can drive under so you don’t have to deal with Alaskan weather just to drop off items.

I came on opening day, but waiting until lunch time figuring the 8 am grand opening would draw the biggest crowds.  Unfortunately I forgot to factor in that it was spring break that week so everyone was looking for things to do and this was apparently one that many chose because the place was super busy!  Several times I skipped aisles because they were too congested to get a good look at the items on the shelves, but I’m sure that was just because of this was opening day.  I skipped the clothes, shoes and books this visit and instead made a beeline for housewares where I searched for project materials and décor items.


It was well stocked and the staff were constantly bringing out more items to keep the shelves full.  They also did a great job with creating their employee team because every staff person I encountered as friendly and had wonderful attitudes even as they tried to squeeze around shoppers to do their job.  One gal was cleaning up some broken glass from a dropped item and could barely find room to sweep but it never phased her.  In fact she made it an opportunity to spread cheer and noted that shopper safety was her priority.


Another thing they did right were the prices.  That’s a big thing here in Alaska, where several of the thrift stores seem to think they can charge a few pennies less than retail on items.  It also didn’t hurt that I had a 20% off coupon thanks to donating before the store opened! 🙂  I ended up finding so many treasures that I had to switch from a small roll behind basket to an actual shopping cart which was mounded over by the time I made it to the cashier line.

Check out was another spot they exceeded my expectations.  They had someone monitoring the line to make sure no one snuck past and went straight to the cashiers, plus they had tech support standing by for any little glitches the new computer systems might have.  And all of the staff on the cashier line were smiling and helping each other out when there were questions.


With my coupon I ended up spending just over $60 for this haul, which included puzzles, games and stuffed animals for the foster room plus Easter décor, yard art, dog toys, a treat holder for the chickens and several pieces that will become sale projects.  Hopefully this location will continue to impress with good selection, affordable prices and great staff.  If they do, I plan to be a regular!

What great treasures have you found at thrift stores recently?  Leave me a comment to share!

Thrifitng Karma


As I was driving past the thrift shop around the corner from my office the other day, something said I should stop in and just take a look.  I’m a firm believer in trusting my gut so I pulled for a quick peek.  I’m glad I did because it yielded a pretty bevy of treasures!  I got all of this for just $46.  Apparently my gut can sense awesome thrifty deals from a mile away. 🙂

I plan to use some of the pieces as is, like the plant in the small crock and the cloche, but I’ve already got a few ideas for DIY makeovers on other pieces such as that blue bunny sign.  I may also update a piece or two for resale at the holiday bazaar I’ve booked just after Thanksgiving, but if they find a ‘spot to belong’ in my home before then I won’t be upset about it.

Have you found any great bargains while thrifting recently?  I’d love to hear about them, so share them in a comment below!

Recent Bargains


Just before No-Spend January started (hence the Christmas centerpiece) I snagged a couple really good bargains on a trip to the thrift store. I only paid $45 for all of this! Several of them got a makeover during the last month – I’ll be sharing those very soon – and several became part of my Valentine’s décor – which will also be shared soon.

Although my favorite find was the milk glass vase for $0.99, I was pretty excited about the tall hurricane vase since I had bought one on the local buy/sell page for $5 about this time last year and ended up selling it to someone at a spring bazaar even though it was only part of my display because she liked it so much and offered me double what I paid for it! I snagged this one for $12 and although I originally planned to paint the base I’ve decided to leave it as is for now. The wooden pedestal bowl is still mid-transformation, but I think it’s going to be fantastic when it’s done – just in time for some spring decorating.


But the best recent bargain is this leather arm chair. Wanna know what I paid for it? NADA! Zilch! Absolutely nothing! Every once in a while trolling Craigslist’s free section pays off! 😉 One of the arms is a bit wobbly and needs some reinforcement, but the hubs is pretty sure he can take care of that at some point. That point will probably be right before we have company coming one day when it’s a priority. Oh well, at least for now it looks pretty darn fancy!

Now that No-Spend January is over, I decided to check out a local clothing consignment store last Sunday and brought home a lovely Banana Republic jacket for just $7! I also found a pretty pink scarf at the thrift store in their ‘new/retail donated’ section for just $9. I’d been on the hunt for one for some time now so finding one at such a great price was even sweeter.  Isn’t finding a great bargain wonderful?  Tell me about your recent favorite in a comment!

Bargain Hunting

potShortly after we moved in to the new house, something told me I should visit the thrift store around the corner from my office.  I’m sure glad I did because I hit a jackpot of items for areas of the house.  I knew it was going to be one of those trips when I spotted this copper tin right off the bat when I walked in.  I’d been looking for something like this to make a cache pot (kitchen scrap pot) for a while.  It was the perfect size, had a lid and had a great look to it.  And at $4 it was perfection.  A far better price than the ones I was finding online for $60 and $70!

I also found a basket and shell for the guest bathroom, a fantastic wine rack, a large glass jar, decor pieces, pretty trays, an adorable little Princess House jar and a basket to collect eggs in when we get our chicken coop up and running this summer!  And each was a fraction of the price I would have paid new.  Here’s a picture of the whole haul from that trip.

FindsAfter that, I didn’t make it back to another thrift store for a while, but last week I hit three different ones around Anchorage within two days and left each empty handed.  Granted I was shopping for specific items, but they were things you’d expect to find in thrift stores.  I was fairly disappointed and had even considered buying some of the items new if I couldn’t find them soon.  That evening I had 30 minutes to kill before I was due at my next appointment so I decided to check out the Wasilla Value Village since I hadn’t been there yet.

I didn’t even grab a cart as I headed in because I figured I wouldn’t find much, but as soon as I stepped in the door I saw a whole stash of wicker hampers against the wall.  The exact item I’d just posted I was in search of on a local buy/sell page!  No one had responded to my request, because apparently they’d all already been donated! Some were smaller, some had liners, some had lids, some were in good shape – but not all of those characteristics lined up in the same piece.  I chose a larger one with a lid, but no liner for my guest bathroom.  I also found more decor items, a pantry jar, a flower pot for spring and a lovely purple storage box for my office.  Isn’t that little owl candle holder the cutest!?  He was just $4 – a far cry from the $60 Pottery Barn owl lanterns I’d been lusting after back in November!


Granted this wasn’t as big of a haul as the previous treasure trove, but after the little dry spell I was plenty happy with it.  I finally hit the Alaksa Picker store today and found a couple great bargains there as well.  I’ll share those soon once I get them cleaned up and in place around the house.  I’ve got a post in the works on how the cache pot came together set for later this weekend.  And watch for a post on where that wine rack ended up soon too!

Do you have a favorite thrifted find or a favorite thrift shop?  Tell me about it!

New Thrifty Haunts

One of the best things about moving to a new place is finding new, exciting stores – especially discovering which thrift stores have the best inventories!  Although we’ve been pretty busy since the move I have had time to check out a few local shops and have to say I’m pretty darn impressed.


BricBracThe Wasilla Salvation Army Thrift Store was the first new thrift shop I investigated due to its rather large size and convenient location right off the main drag of town.  It was pretty well laid out for a thrift store and seemed to have a good variety of inventory.  Unfortunately their hours don’t always work for my commuter schedule, but I was fairly tickled to see they had a decent pricing policy, as some thrift shops I’ve perused seem to be a bit bi-polar in that department – likely dependent on whoever volunteers for that task on a particular day.

I was also impressed by Boardwalk, which is also located just off the highway, but closer to the road that leads to our area.  This shop is a combination of three main vendors – Home Again Decor,  Gladheart Acres and Cranberry Cottage – with a smathering of consignment pieces too.  I got to speak with one of the managers while visiting and learned that they plan to start renting out space to regular vendors this year and they sounded interested in having some of my Thrift D’ Creations items available.  Once I’m settled and back to crafting I’ll certainly be looking into it – maybe even getting some Valentines inventory prepped this week!


I was already aware of the Alaska Picker shop which also houses a unique antique restorer, Fancy Lou.  I’m a fan of both on Facebook and love seeing their new inventory via social media when I can’t stop by to browse.  Luckily, they are now just a few miles from my home, which means I can always make a quick shopping trip on the weekends.

Thrifter’s Rock, located half-way between Wasilla and Palmer has been a favorite of mine for a while now.  Run by a local church to support their missionaries, they have amazing sales and a pretty good rotating inventory.  Just 10 minutes from our house, they are always a first choice when thrifting.


SledAnother new favorite is Chickadee in nearby Palmer, just 15 minutes from our house.  I’d been wanting to check them out since spotting them earlier this summer, but schedules just hadn’t permitted it until recently.  I knew I’d hit the jackpot when I spotted this antique sled out front as soon as I stepped out of the truck!  And at just $26.50 it was a great deal!

Vintage Poppy in downtown Palmer has been on my radar for a while now too.  I made it a point to visit them when I was visiting from Kodiak and ended up buying the “Moose, It’s what’s for dinner” sign that hangs in our kitchen on one of those trips.  There are also other vendors in the same shop, including Alaska Chicks and Love Nugget Designs, so they always have a variety of apparel, accessories, home decor and antiques.   I haven’t been in since the Alaska Picker moved out of this spot and into their own digs so I think it’s high time I return to check out what’s going on.

There are still a few stores I’ve spied, but haven’t had  a chance to check out just yet, like Happy Dawn’s Thrift Store located between our house and Wasilla, which looks like it might be a perfect resource for home decor project materials.  I also need to check out the Value Village I spied at the far end of town since it seems pretty large.

Of course I have grand plans to hit the multitude of antique shops throughout Wasilla and Palmer this summer, so watch for projects from those adventures!  What’s your favorite thrift shop or boutique?