Dear Answer Angel Ellen: I know you’re a big fan of thrift and consignment stores, but when I walk into them, I am overwhelmed – by the jumble of merchandise, the layout, everything. Sure I want to save money, find a bargain. But, honestly, I don’t know where to begin. – Phyllis
Dear Phyllis: I know what you mean. You definitely have to be in the right frame of mind when you set out on this kind of shopping. It requires some digging.
It helps to bring a friend to bounce things off of (preferably one who is not your size, so there won’t be any bickering about who saw it first).
I find that entering the place with a goal helps – a queen sheet set in 100 percent cotton; an evening bag to go with a specific dress; two bedroom end tables I plan to repaint. Once I find what I’m looking for (or don’t), I can be in and out speedily and on to the next stop, or I’m warmed up and can now make time for serendipitous finds too. Perhaps just a peek at the blouses will lead to an unexpected treasure.
Whatever you do, don’t buy something that doesn’t fit or you won’t wear, refinish or resell. Most of us don’t have the storage space to hold on to things that serve no purpose except to remind us that we didn’t lose the weight or repaint those end tables. Remember, it’s no bargain if you don’t use it.
One of the best thrifters I know is Joyce Sobczyk, who recommends, “Zoom in on what you love.” That’s how she found her midcentury pole lamp for $5. She’s seen them on eBay for $300 plus! As for the unexpected find that always perks us up, Joyce just texted me a photo of a handsome brown Kooba leather tote bag she found today at Goodwill for $12.99. She’s putting it on eBay tonight!
Dear Answer Angel Ellen: Now that all the fitted sheets are made to fit extremely deep mattresses, how do you get a nice, tight fit on a more standard size mattress? Thanks so much! – Linda H.
Dear Linda: Try hardtofindsheets.com, where you’ll find “low profile” sheets with pockets designed to fit skinny mattresses starting at 6 inches.
Dear Answer Angel Ellen: Here’s a crazy problem for the middle of summer. We were left with several old fur coats when our mother passed away. There is a full-length mink from the 1950s, a mink jacket and a mink stole. Also two older furs, maybe beaver, from the 1940s. What do we do with them? We heard there is not much monetary value to them. – Jan & Family
Dear J & F: Do what I did. I took my mom’s fur to a seamstress/tailor and had her turn it into luxurious throw pillows. Be sure you use down or down/feather inserts available online for not too much money. I’ve used fabric.com and royalpillow.com for well-priced pillows. Other options? Consider lining the fur in a cozy fabric and having it turned into a couch throw. Imagine taking a nap under that! Two other solutions: A furrier can use the coats or stole for cuffs, collar or hood on a coat you already own or as a lining in a new raincoat. Just be sure you’re working with someone who knows how to handle fur. If the local furrier doesn’t do this work, get a recommendation for a reliable tailor.
Dear Answer Angel Ellen: I have bags/lines under my eyes, and since I don’t wear glasses, they are very noticeable. Is there anything that can help make the upper cheeks less puffy? – Joan J.
Dear Joan: Concealer is what you need. My current favorite is L’Oreal’s True Match (drugstores). It works wonders. A friend had a black eye, and it covered it beautifully!