How To Thrift Like A Pro

thrifting It’s thrifting season! Or rather, it’s always thrifting season for those who love a bargain or an eclectic find. However, the good weather brings out the flea markets, garage sales and even more endless chances to dig deep and find yourself something that no one has possibly even seen since 1902.

Although thrifting has never been my scene, one of my oldest and dearest friends, Bess Dunlevy, is a thrifting pro. It’s not just about love for the treasures she scores, but it’s an art that she’s perfected. Simply, the woman just knows how to shop thrift stores, and she has much to share on the topic.

When I asked Bess to explain this love affair with eras long gone, she said:

I find value in old objects and fashion, and I love hunting for vintage in my region of Pennsylvania. I’m particularly drawn to midcentury housewares and there is a rich history in this area – former manufacturers like Canonsburg Pottery, Jeannette Glass and Hazel Atlas were once booming Southwestern Pa. industries. As a result, items from these former industries can be found when thrift shopping, often discarded from homes of former plant employees or relatives. Personally, I collect a great deal of 1950s dishware and glassware and I dress in vintage, as it suits my personal aesthetic. Thrifting just goes well with my own collecting habits. I’ve also been a vintage dealer since 2009, both on Etsy and here in Pittsburgh, and thrifting is a small part of maintaining my inventory.

So, from where does this thrifting adoration come?

I grew up with a grandmother who loved antiques and I would often go to flea markets with my mother. I’ve always loved the history behind objects, décor, fashion and art – and when I purchased my own home almost 7 years ago, and my own vintage collections grew, my thrifting habits further developed. It’s also very smart when on a budget. I bought three 1960s cotton summer dresses last week for $10.50.

In addition to be a thrifting pro, Bess is the woman behind Etsy’s Red Pop Shop (along with two other friends), and the initial driving force of the annual Pittsburgh Vintage Mixer, an event that gives the Pittsburgh vintage community a chance to show off their goods, add to their personal collections, and share their love for the past.

Here are six tips from Bess on how to thrift with the same expertise as she. If you’d like to pick her brain even more, you can track her down via Facebook, or Twitter. She loves to share her knowledge while sipping iced coffee out of glasses from 1970-something.

Photo: Anne Taintor

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