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Where to Find the Best Items to Upcycle & Repurpose

Where to Find the Best Items to Upcycle & Repurpose main article image
Posted on October 17, 2021 by Jennifer Carroll

I talk about upcycling and repurposing items a lot in my posts. It’s a process I enjoy, from start to finish. I call it a process because it doesn’t happen all at once. I have a whole workshop full of things that are just waiting to be crafted. But where do I get the things I use in my projects? And where should you start looking? I’m glad you asked!

The best and easiest place to find items you’d like to upcycle, repurpose, or DIY is in your own house. Shop around in your garage, attic, or basement. If an item won’t work in your décor because it’s the wrong color – paint it. When we moved and my color choices were changing, I made some of my old décor pieces work with a coat of paint or by swapping out flowers. I was also lucky enough to find things that the previous owner had left behind. Mirrors, hardwood floor planks, and scrap wood are all great project pieces. Shopping around your house and thinking with a creative mind is a great way to save money and reuse your old things.

My favorite place to find pieces that I can upcycle is the thrift store right around the corner from my house.  It’s the Goodwill Outlet or the Bargain Barn. Some people call it the “bins.” They sell things by weight, except the heavy items. I bought a 10’, pre-lit Christmas tree there for $10. This will be the third year we’ve used it in our home, and I don’t think this is the year that I’m going to replace it. If you have the patience to sort through the dozens of bins that are replenished throughout the day, you can find treasures for very little money. Lately, I’ve been collecting wooden rolling pins and utensils. I pick them up from here and I never pay more than a few cents.

If thrift store shopping is something you enjoy, make a day of it with your thrifting buddies. I like to find out if the thrift stores in my area have sale days and if they ever put out coupons. Some offer senior or military discounts. It’s a fun day out and you never know what treasures you’ll find.

Another tried and true way to hunt for project pieces is garage and yard sales. They happen frequently on the weekends. Get out early on a Saturday morning to beat the crowd and find the very best things. If you come across an item you’d like and you think the price is too high, just ask if they’d consider a lower offer. The worst they can say is no. My sister has a huge garage sale once a year. She uses it as an opportunity to declutter her house and make a few extra dollars. She even makes a few crafty items to add to the inventory. People in her neighborhood look forward to her yearly sale and sometimes they even participate. Some neighborhoods have a coordinated sale in which the entire block participates. Alabama is the well-known starting point for the longest yard sale. It’s 690 miles long and is considered a major tourist attraction. The sale is held annually and spans 6 states. My husband is just lucky we don’t live in one of those states!

Facebook Marketplace is one of my new favorite ways to shop. There are new offerings every day. This is how I find a lot of curb alerts. Someone has placed their things outside for the garbage man to collect and as a courtesy they give others a heads up. I’ve found some very useful things this way. Last year I picked up several dozen pickets for free. I turned them into flower boxes and sold them for $30 each. I also came across some old spindle chairs curbside. I dismantled them and turned them into spindle boxes. I sell them for $50 apiece. Often people are just trying to get rid of their things without calling for a special garbage pickup.  I peruse the marketplace a few times a week because I’ve learned that there is usually something I can create with whatever I find. Keep an eye on your local marketplace and you’ll be surprised at how many things will be available. Use the search bar to find a specific item. I typed in “free wood”, now Facebook alerts me when there’s an item listed that matches my search.

I find a lot of my project pieces at regular retail stores. I live within four minutes of just about any store you can imagine. Hobby Lobby has 70% off sales a couple of times a year. I use the opportunity to buy things like knobs and wood plaques that I use in my art and craft shows. Home Depot always has a cart of wood that is on clearance. It’s 70% off and I find something useful there every time I visit. Home Depot also has an “oops” paint shelf in their paint department. I’m not real picky when it comes to paint. I can add texture to it if I need to or thin it with water. So, when I can buy it for $2 a quart, I do. Michael’s is a good place to buy things like paints and stains when they are on clearance. And don’t forget about coupons. Hobby Lobby discontinued their 50% off coupon, but they do have sales every week. Michael’s has a 20% off coupon that’s available every day and can be applied to regular-priced items. When you download the app and sign up you can collect points. When you’ve collected a certain amount of points, you’ll earn a voucher that can be used for future purchases.

Whether you’re creating for yourself or you’re a reseller, finding project items is half the fun! I don’t always know how I’m going to use a piece when I buy it, but that doesn’t stop me. Just ask my husband! He experiences a little taste of my favorite thrift store every time he steps into my workshop. Until next time – happy crafting.

Please visit me here to see my latest creations!

The Barnyard Boutique

Facebook – The Barnyard Boutique

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