Tag Archives: thrift shopping

Thrift Shopping – St Mary’s, Ontario

What a pleasant surprise to happen upon some great thrift shopping in the little town of St. Mary’s, Ontario.

Pass It On, 31 Water Street, is a thrift shop run by Carey Pope. Her flair for the unexpected is evident by the merchandise, her branding, signage and unique displays.


Awesome windows and tastefully hand-lettered signage.IMG_4366She could teach window display (which apparently you now need a degree in).

I thought it was so clever to display scarves this way.IMG_4367
The change room cubicles were constructed of old doors, painted white.IMG_4370IMG_4372
Ms Pope does not take a wage from the store so that she can help make a difference in the lives of people in her local and global community. Here are a list of just a few of the charities she supports:


Nice to see they are closed on Sundays.

I enjoyed the shopping experience and bought a few children’s books for my grandson.

And what could be better the it is directly beside the Salvation Army Thrift Store. So two birds…

DIY Mosaic Table

For years I’ve been saving broken china. I even ask people at yard sales if they have any they are going to throw out.

I sorted it all into colour groups.IMG_3674

I picked up a little homemade table at a yard sale for under ten dollars. A two tiered round table or plant stand.

First I “shabby-chic”ed the dark brown finish with a white-wash of pale yellow. It was the only paint I had around and I’m too cheap to buy a whole can for such a little project.  IMG_3632

Then I lightly sanded the paint off. Martha Stewart would love this.

Next I randomly glued down the broken china with white glue like WeldBond. I used petal ware and jadeite, a milky-green glassware, especially on this piece because it reminds me of my cottage. And of course, Scrabble tiles. Instead of pilfering your own game you can buy some from my Etsy shop hereIMG_3675

I let the glue dry for 24 hours. I coloured the tile grout with a squirt of pale yellow acrylic craft paint.


I was lucky to find the grout at a yard sale too!  Unopened box for 2 bucks.

The groutwork is probably the most time-consuming part of this project.IMG_3706

The hardest part is wiping away the excess grout. Keep rinsing your cloth.IMG_3709IMG_8308

Thrift Shopping – Brisbane

I found a cool recycling place in Brisbane, Australia called Reverse Garbage. What a great name for a thrift shop. But this thrift shop is more like “Salvation Army meets Habitat for Humanity ReStores”.

Woolloongabba Warehouse_web

IMG_9844They encourage you to buy by the bag and weight.IMG_9846

A friend told me that her architectural firm has bins for Reverse Garbage to come and pick up commercial samples such as tiles, carpets, ceramics and countertops.

IMG_9829Some really weird stuff you just don’t see at every second-hand shop.IMG_9827 IMG_9825 IMG_9823 The neat part is that they collect industrial discards thus saving companies lots in disposal fees.IMG_9831 The goods look less like donations and more like salvations.

IMG_9819 They sell everything direct to the public for use in art and craft projects, home and garden improvements and anything else their ingenious customers come up with!IMG_9820 IMG_9821 IMG_9847They run environmental education workshops in schools, festivals, and community groups and at their urban environmental education facility located in their warehouse.IMG_9833Their website lists everything that they sell. My favorite subcategory would be New Stuff.IMG_9832Even old picture framing matboard corner samples!IMG_9830Part of the store is a Reverse Gift shop and Gallery, called Reverse Emporium which stocks high quality art, jewellery, and home decor. All items are up-cycled from salvaged materials, making them perfect eco-gifts.

Sort of an Etsy retail storefront where they sell items on a consignment basis with a 50% mark-up on the artist’s asking price.IMG_9835

  • All items submitted must be made up of 75% salvaged materials (this means materials can be pre loved, recycled, reused, reclaimed and up-cycled)
  • All items must be finished to a high standard and suitable for sale
  • Wholesale prices should not exceed $120 per item

IMG_9834I enjoyed seeing the creativity and success they are having.

Have you been to a store like this?

Thrift Shopping – Melbourne, Australia

I love to treasure hunt at thrift shops. In Australia they are called ‘op shops’, as in ‘opportunity’.  And that perfectly describes it, an opportunity to discover.

I made my way by train down to Chapel Street precinct.

This is where I was told that I would find second hand shops.


The absolutely most fun one I found was a charity shop run by MECWAcare. They had such a sense of fun. Old china plates, stacked to the ceiling. I asked the guy, “are those glued?” Yep.IMG_8784Wooden salad bowls made into a sculpture.

IMG_8775 IMG_8776Old vinyl records stacked into towers.

IMG_8783Fancy paper shopping bags used as decor. Cutlery spilling out from containers. IMG_8786Books piled as decorations.




IMG_8777 IMG_8778A tower lamp made from old aluminum tea pots and stainless steel bowls.

Generally speaking Op Shops in Australia seem to be very upscale. Maybe it’s the quality of the donations.

The Salvation Army tops the list of these. Branded as “SALVOS Stores” they are nothing like the Sally Anns’ in Canada.


Beautifully painted floors with chic industrial shelving.IMG_8793

And they played lovely music too.IMG_8794

One of the Salvo’s in downtown Melbourne looked like a designer dress shop.

In this Mission shop I asked for Australian made or designed clothes and the volunteer helped me find some perfect selections.IMG_8799

Mixed in with the op shops were designer clothing stores.

IMG_8802This shop owner was the knitter.

Every second building was a cafe with outdoor seating of some description and radiant heaters for the cooler weather.



My lunch was “The Forever Popular Smashed Avocado” at AMICI Bakery. Mashed avocado on toasted pumpkin bread, feta, lemon, cracked pepper and toasted pepitas.

Beautiful architecture well over one hundred years old.IMG_8830Admist all these shops were antique places too. Like this vintage mall called Chapel Street Bazaar.


A building FULL of stuff. This one’s for Steina!IMG_8809

Talk about being overwhelmed with sights.IMG_8814

I walked the whole breadth of Chapel Street in the drizzle. And I wasn’t disappointed at all.









Thrift Shopping – Paint by Number

Paint by number art has been around since the 1920’s but the was all the rage as a hobby in the 1950-60s. Talk about colouring inside the lines! And of course the instructions never encouraged you to ever sign your painting. So these paintings remain anonymous.

In 1953 alone the paint-by-number craze reached $80 million in sales.

I find mostly finished ones at estate and yard sales. Rarely do I find an actual unused or unfinished kit. Vintage paint by numbers can be purchased online and are popular for cottage decor and that kitschy look.

The ubiquitous still life, marinescapes, hunting scenes, forests were all standard fare for the paint-by-number artist.

In his book, Paint By Number, William L Bird, Jr. “takes us on an unbelievable journey where art meets kitsch and popular and high cultures collide in a collage of home economics, leisure time fun, and art education, Bird revisits the hobby from the vantage point of the artists and entrepreneurs who created the popular paint kits, the critics who reviled them, and the consumers who enthusiastically filled them in and hung them in their homes.”

Marine scene

One can only make up a story of the hobbyist or detailed person who took hours to paint these, opening the tiny little plastic pots of colour with the numbered lids.

Screen Shot 2013-07-25 at 2.52.42 PMAt least the paint by number craze got a paint brush into millions of hands of people who wouldn’t have otherwise tried painting.

Let’s hope that after painting for hours, the person was liberated to try painting on their own with the leftover paint at least. And maybe buy some canvas and tubes of paint and break out of the lines.