Rummage sale season is upon us, and for me that means cheap craft supplies. I always find stuff to supplement “my stash,” but more than that, it gives me a chance to put my creative mind to work. While getting cheap supplies is a great thing, the even better activity is looking for new uses for old things. (Besides that, I really love seeing what people get rid of; I find it fascinating.)
People ask me sometimes what I buy at rummage sales. Here are the things I look for.
Craft supplies that are complete and useable. People try and sell half-used things but I never go for it. If I see a half used-skein of yarn or packet of scrapbook paper, I shy away from it.
- Material. Specifically, large pieces of stuff I will actually use (like the great buy I got for a quarter last year.)
- Rubber stamps. (Because they clean up easily enough and are otherwise so darn expensive.)
- Scrapbook and sewing “do-dads,” or things like rivets, ribbon, charms, etc.
- Old books. I love using them for scrapbooking and pictures.
- Shadow boxes. Even if they have something in them when I get them. They are easy to take apart and reuse. If you get them in the store? So expensive.
- Wooden chairs. I love painting these suckers. I should probably leave more of them behind, but they are so easy to transform.
- Small side tables. They’re easy to paint and rework.
- Old patterns. (Great for mixed media stuff.)
- Tissue paper. (Ditto.)
- Craft organization materials. (Because we always need to be more organized, don’t we?)
- Any usable, irresistible find. Sometimes you see something that is obviously working, well cared for, or in great shape. For those things, it’s worth picking up. Last year I bought several tiny locket-type frame things, some pillow forms, and a couple scrapbook tools from people, only because they were like new. I wouldn’t pick them up had they not been in perfect condition though.
Does that mean everything at a rummage sale is a bargain? Of course not! Some things I usually pass on:
- Anything I can’t clean up or wash.
- Tools with motors because I usually can’t plug it in and test it for the long haul. In general, if I can’t verify whether or not it works I usually just leave it there.
- Half-used scrapbook paper. (You’d be surprised at how many people sell this.)
- Anything I know I probably won’t use. A few summers ago I found tons of cheap rubber stamps somewhere, but they were just the kind I probably wouldn’t use. I left them behind. Same thing with some gorgeous beads I loved. I don’t make jewelry and probably wouldn’t have used them.
- Paints. I see people in our area that sell a lot of paints, but you never know how old they are so I usually pass.
- Pillow stuffing, batting, etc. For me, this is an issue with allergies. I just can’t bring something in the house that I know I’m going to throw away.
what a fun post Cherie! I am always on the lookout at rummage sales for things to use in my crafts too- but I’m hardly ever lucky enough to find stuff. Most times I find the odd cabinet or chair that I can re-vamp. Once I found an entire box of little wood shapes that I am still using in different projects. It’s like winning the lottery when you find something you can use, isn’t it?
It is like winning the lottery! Half the fun is just hunting for stuff.
Barbara Moore says
Great post Cherie! I too love rummage sales and have picked up some remarkable buys at them. I too have a hard time passing on chairs. They’re just so much fun to redo aren’t they?
Oh Barbara, I LOVE chairs! I have to stop myself sometimes, because they are so fun to paint and jazz up. I could buy a zillion of them. (But at least if you get them at a rummage it’s cheap, right?) 🙂
Cyndi L says
A friend of mine bought a bag full of an already-cut-out quilt because she liked the fabrics. Then she ended up going into obsession mode trying to figure out what pattern it was supposed to be instead of just simply using the fabric for her own design. You guessed it…it still sits unused. I think you’re wise to be careful of half-used things!
I know what you mean. I have to stop myself sometimes from buying something just because it’s a great deal.
But couldn’t you use half-used scrapbook paper the same way you use old books and patterns – for mixed media? If it were priced cheaply enough …
You know what, Eileen, you could. I hesitate buying stuff that is half-used because I know I probably won’t use it, but if you’re going to use it doesn’t matter if it’s half used. Plus, you’re right about finding some great paper for a mixed media project.