Best Kept Secrets: Hidden Thrift to Treasure Stores

The world of thrift stores has exploded since the economy crashed, but some of the best finds may still be hidden. During the Green Building and Renovation Month 2010, Re-Nest has featured some inspiring habitats and DIY projects. Most of these designs feature vintage and upcycled furniture that may have you thinking..."I can do that!" and most surely you can. But with the enthusiastic revival of the 'Thrift Store', how will you find the good stuff before everyone else without spending a fortune? Here are some little (and well) known places that will appeal to the most thrifty at heart.

1. Goodwill Outlet Stores Now The Goodwill typically has some good deals if you are willing to do some digging. Their new endeavor, Second Debut, features designer and more upscale clothes and accessories at their stores for quicker thrift store shopping. But of you are a true thrift store lover, the little known Goodwill Outlet Store is for you! With big bins on conveyor belts and rolling carts filled to the brim with Goodwill rejects, pile on as much as you want because they are typically a pay by the pound operation.

2. Freecycle Why pay when you can get it for free? Freecycle is a network of individuals who are literally giving away things. You can sign up for your local listing to learn about what is happening in your neighborhood. Anything from toilets to scrap paper can be found on these listings. There are over 7.5 million users to date. This is a great place to find things that are in good condition from homes that just don't want to see them go to waste.

3. ReUse Centers In a growing number of cities, ReUse centers are popping up offering old cabinet doors, windows, and a host of other home renovation odds and ends. These are great places to find pre-screened items with knowledgeable staff. Sites such as the ReUse Center in Minneapolis, MN and Whole House Building Supply & Salvage in Palo Alto, CA are great places to start.

4. Specialty Sales and Shops Now depending on what type of renovation or DIY project you have in mind, there are a host of specialty sales and shops that can keep your materials upcycled and unique. In many small towns and cities there are Library sales to help fundraise money, many have $1 - $5 bags that you can fill with whatever you like. This is a great way to stock up on supplies for cheap. There are also shops that specialize in specific types of reuse like art scraps that can help you zero in your search for exactly what you need.

5. The Usual Suspects Of course if all else fails there are three great online spots to check for unique, sometimes free, and always evolving items: Craigslist, Etsy and the Thrift Store Directory. Craigslist has a specific section 'For Sale' with specific categories including 'Free'. More and more collectors have been popping up on Etsy, so if you are looking for reclaimed thrift pieces don't cross Etsy off the list. If you aren't sure where to start looking for thrift stores in your area, try the Thrift Store Directory, they don't have consignment shops, but its a great jumping off point!

Now before you head off on your great thrift excursions, check out some Re-Nest tips on common finds that are easy to upcycle. And when thinking about donating your own items to thrift stores, you may want to think twice before handing it in according to fellow Re-Nester, Adele.

So thrift happy, thrift easy, and good luck getting your hands dirty!

(Images: The ReUse Center)