Is there a AA type meeting for junk crafters like me? Hi! I’m Dolores Rush and I’m a crafter who buys from thrift stores and garage sales. *smile*
A few years ago, I was at the heart of a stirred up hornet’s nest with my letter to the editor at Scrap & Stamp Arts Magazine concerning “Expired Stamp Companies.” Seems I was not the only thrifty soul and many said they wouldn’t mind seeing new ideas for their older rubber stamps. So I keep shopping and hoarding freebies and cheapies and trying to think of off-beat ways to reuse “last year’s models.”
Right now, I’m involved in a thread at Splitcoast Stampers forum ("Ways to Make Do Instead of Buy New" by Barbara Jay). It’s about 23 pages long at last count. I’ve been adding to it, but also mining everyone else’s ideas. You know, I just can’t get enough ideas on making do with what I have! Oh the thrill of the hunt!
Last night, I attended a FREE community program at our library on how to save money by shopping thrifty. The speaker, Lily Wolfgang, is an interior decorator who regularly shops for her store, A Breath of Fresh Flair .
I went hoping I would hear the names of new stores that I could excavate for low-cost craft goodies (see my link list over on the side menu of stores I shop at). Having champagne tastes on a beer budget, I’ve decorated our home, homeschooled and crafted on a shoestring budget for years. It might have been around Christmas when I last visited a department store at the mall and that was probably because somebody gave me a gift card. So here’s how I craft shop =
* I wear comfortable shoes!
* I have a general idea what things cost in the crafting world now, having browsed through scrapbook and stamping stores, the internet and enough Stampin’ Up parties to know a good bargain when I see it! Once I stopped in a new-to-us Goodwill and found a Cri-cut font cartridge for $4.00. It was unopened and one corner was slightly crinkled, but I took a chance on it anyway and bought it. Since I didn’t have a Cri-cut, I thought it might come in handy for the gift drawer. It wasn’t too long after that a friend at church purchased one. I gifted her with the font and guess what? The main gizmo inside wasn’t damaged in any way and she’s been blessing our church with “writing on the wall” taken straight from scripture ever since!
* I also stamped a inventory of all my stamps and glued punchies to an index card, so I have a general idea of what I have at home. Girlfriends got after me because I stayed up til 4:00 am working on it, but I knew if I didn’t do it then, I probably wouldn’t get it done. :) I also decided early in my stamping career that I do not like clear stamps. I like the concept, but not the reality, so steer clear of those kinds of stamps when out shopping. I do like the stamps that come pre-attached on a foam backing and can be mounted on an acrylic block to stamp from.
* My hubbin parks our car in the handicap area in the parking lot and yes, I have a legal handicap placard. I don’t usually need it going in; it’s the coming out I appreciate the car close by. A couple of years ago, I herniated a disc in my lower back and was diagnosed with arthritis and vertigo at the same time, so my standing and walking times are limited to short spans without pain. I can shop longer if given a chance to sit down and stretch the back muscles periodically, so I cruise the aisles hanging onto a grocery cart and quickly scan the shelves looking for craft candy in the usual places and not so usual spots. Recently I scored a huge bag of vintage scrapbook supplies at one thrift store over in a section that held mostly men’s hardware and tools. By the way, the sack had two photo albums, several pads of Anna Griffith scrapbook paper that had only a few sheets ripped out, stickers, a box of Stampin’ Up eyelets, and more, all for $12.00! We LOVE, LOVE, LOVE our PT cruiser. Our previous car was tiny and had barely any room to pack people and stuff in like recyclables, a sack of stuff to donate to the thrift store, groceries, and maybe furniture all in one trip. The way gas prices are now, it just makes sense to have a roomier car, make all the numerous errands we have to run at once and I also like it because it’s easy for me to climb in and out of.
* At thrift stores, if you think you want it, put it in your cart. You can always take it out later if you find something better or decide against it. If you take a large item to the front of the store to the cash register, be sure to tell the cashier you are purchasing this item or someone may swoop in and “steal” it from you. Knowing this, I’ve stood by big items until my hubbin has paid for it and gotten store personnel to help him move it to our car.
* I got this idea from Emilie Barnes = carry a small spiral notebook with a pocket inside along with a pen. I have ADD (really!) and as one of my coping skills, I would write down lists of things I needed to do or buy on scraps of paper, but then would lose the scrap of paper. This has organized my life so much by keeping it all together in one place. I keep it in my two pocket zippered purse with a handle long enough to go over my head and across my chest. The pocket in the notebook is handy for keeping the coupons I get in the mail from my local hobby stores.
* I learned a long time ago to carry a measuring tape around with me.
* I never leave a store without first cruising down the clearance aisle especially after the holidays.
* I almost never turn away a crafty hand-me-down from a friend. Another woman’s junk is often my treasure! However, if I find that I have too much of a good thing or decide later I don’t care for it, I try to think of a way of reusing it first or I regift it to a thrift store or a Children’s Museum Resource Center. They are usually delighted to take it off my hands because they sell donated items low-priced to finance their museum.
* If I’m looking for a craft book or magazine, I first check out my library, World Cat inner-library loan or visit Half-Price Books, a new/used bookstore in the city. I have found craft books and magazines at thrift stores, liquidation/salvage stores and garage sales too! And I check out the little pads of free tutorials that hobby stores sometimes hang and grab a sheet or two. When I homeschooled, I sometimes used these as an art assignment which I stapled to our son’s assignment notebook Also our local conservation office has free patterns for bug barns and birdhouses if I’m in a nature craftin’ mode so I’ll make a point to stop in and ask. They even have free craft classes from time to time – like a leaf printing class and a sun print making one.
* When we go on vacation, we check out the tourist information office for not only historical points of interest, but also craft stores in the area and thrift stores. I’ve even picked up free scrapbook store postcards there to mail home to my friends.
* I try to go for the gold and buy the good stuff. And as my mother often makes a point of telling me, if you don’t like it or need it, then it isn’t a bargain no matter how inexpensive it is.
* And last but not least, I scout out the front entryway of any place of business we visit on the way out for freebies. Those magazines, catalogs and newspapers one can pick up sometimes yield a wealth of information!