While traveling through Maine, for example, he noticed that “even the local Goodwill stores were filled with vintage Americana with a New England twist, like ceramic lobster plates and perfectly used LLBean sweaters.”
Chamlee makes it a point to save on nearly every domestic vacation she takes, visiting retail chains, charity shops and more. We talked to her and other thrift-buying enthusiasts for tips on locating and transporting treasures big and small. Here are her suggestions.
Do your research. Make a plan before you pack your suitcase. You’ll want to get a feel for the region and what it can offer in terms of furnishings and décor. “Florida, for example, is full of all the Palm Beach glamour, rattan and wicker you could want, while Detroit came of age in the middle of the century, so you can expect to find some pretty mid-fashion pieces. great there,” Chamlee says. She often checks social media for images of a store’s sales before visiting. “Online reviews only go so far,” she says, “particularly because other shoppers don’t necessarily share your taste or aesthetic.”
Antique and vintage sales have skyrocketed, thanks to supply chain problems.
And determining what you need before you hit the road can help simplify your shopping, says Andrea Heinrichs, a registered nurse in Toledo who is behind the Instagram account @love_in_1000_square_feet.
Pack accordingly. Carry an extra suitcase or stuff a collapsible bag inside your luggage, says Dana Curatolo, who sells vintage finds through Archive, an online store based out of her home in Jersey City. If you get any treasure, just check the biggest suitcase on the return flight. Chamlee recommends traveling with a tape measure, so she can confirm if something will fit in a vehicle or under a plane seat. “If it doesn’t fit, I can get a general idea of how much it might cost to ship the item home using the item’s measurements and an online shipping calculator,” she says.
Weigh the cost of transportation. There are many ways to ship furniture, so even if all you brought for shopping was a tote bag, it doesn’t mean you can’t hop on that dreamy brass étagère you found. Chamlee says that Greyhound (yes, that Greyhound) will ship large items across the country (see shipgreyhound.com for rates), while other services, like uShip, can connect you with carriers passing through your area. He has also rented a U-Haul to transport items. But weigh the costs before you buy. “If I’m not close enough to home to warrant that, I try to avoid buying anything too big,” says Chamlee. “Be as practical as you can. You might find a great deal when you’re 20 hours away from home, but if it doesn’t fit in the car or on the plane, it could end up costing an arm and a leg to get it home.”
Don’t forget garage sales. Alexandra Sammons of Ann Arbor, Michigan, also enjoys yard sales on vacation. “It’s an amazing way to see cute little neighborhoods and get a real feel for the city,” says Sammons, who launched her resale store, House of Sammons, in 2020. In addition to finding gems, she can also get travel tips. of experts. her while she talked to the locals. It’s easy to find garage sales and real estate across the country by visiting websites like Craigslist, AuctionNinja and salesofgoods.net. Sales are often announced weeks in advance, so it’s worth spending a few minutes online in the days leading up to your trip.
Become a regular. If you’re going to be in town for a while, consider visiting the same thrift store multiple times. In addition to being able to take advantage of the inventory change, you may also appreciate the feeling of routine. Heather Clawson, founder of lifestyle blog Habitually Chic, recently spent a month in Paris, where she visited the Marché aux Puces de Vanves every week. She bought six paintings at that market during her stay. “I was sad when I had to tell my favorite dealer that I was going back to the States,” she says. “Going once a week made me feel more local and less of a tourist.”
Sarah Lyon is a freelance writer and stylist in New York. Find her on Instagram: @sarahlyon9.