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Club Chronicles: Try thrift store treasure hunting

Thrift stores offer a triple-win: Shoppers can find unique items – such as clothing, shoes, furniture and décor – and score those items at reduced prices, plus people who donate unwanted or unneeded items may be able to get a tax deduction before the year ends, if that store supports a charity.

Treasure hunting captures the imagination of the young and old. Most treasure hunters scour the shelves and stalls of local thrift stores and flea markets in search of attaining the fame and fortune attached to the finding of something of high value at little cost.

You often see these treasure hunters on popular television shows, such as Antiques Roadshow and Flea Market finds.

For example, an antique dealer discovered a painting in a thrift shop in Anderson, S.C. He was drawn to it because of the pricey-looking frame. So, he paid $3 and went home – and later discovered the picture was from 1650 and extremely valuable. It was auctioned off for $190,000.

There are plenty of thrift stores, antique malls and flea markets in our area for people to spend countless hours looking for fabulous finds. Treasure hunting may even become a hobby or a business for people who spend weekends or vacations shopping. Part of the adventure is never knowing what you might find.

However, before you start your hunting expedition, you need to make a plan.

1. Take your time. If you’re willing to put in the time and visit the same shop casually but regularly, your purchases will add up to a collected home that you love and fits your budget.

2. Check the store’s schedule. Ask the store owner if there is a day of the week when sales are held or a day of the week when new donations are rotated in. Mondays and Tuesdays are good times to shop, after yard sale leftovers are brought in on the weekend.

3. Buy within your ability to fix. A low price tag on a piece of furniture might seem tempting, but consider the feasibility of rehabbing the piece before you buy it.

4. Look for bulk pricing. When it comes time to clear shelf space, thrift stores often offer bulk pricing, such as 10 cents apiece for all dishes or cups.

5. Be discerning. Don’t buy things simply because they’re bargains.

6. Carry a measuring tape.  This tool helps to determine whether a larger item will fit in your house – or car – before you buy.

7. Bring cash. Not all thrift stores accept credit cards, so make a quick stop at an ATM before shopping.

8. Don’t haggle. Thrift stores often send proceeds to charities, so haggling down prices is frowned upon. The only exception might be if you are buying multiple items, especially whose purchase would clear out space in the shop.

9. Visit stores in new places. Check out shops in other towns, especially when on vacation, to see new selections – plus, whatever you pick up can double as a souvenir.