The Unexpected Organizing Tool I’ll Always Shell Out a Few Dollars for at Thrift Stores

published Jan 11, 2020
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I love thrift stores, flea markets, and antique stores. I could spend hours walking through crowded aisles and imagining the stories behind the old jewelry, furniture, and knick knacks that line the walls (and floors and shelves) of these places. Purchasing an item with a history makes it feel particularly special, plus antique and thrift stores sell things you may not be able to find anywhere else in the world. And on top of all of this, shopping secondhand is not only more affordable in many cases, but way better for the environment than buying something new.

I stop in my fair share of secondhand stores, and sometimes it’s more than my bank account would like. Even if I’m trying to restrain myself, though, there’s always one item I know I can use around the house, no matter what. Whenever I spot a pretty or unique secondhand bowl or dish (think: colored glassware, or hand painted pottery), I buy it.

Credit: Olivia Muenter

In most cases, these pieces are somewhere between $1 and $5, and there is always a spot for them in the house. I use them in my bathroom to hold hand lotions and reading glasses, and in the living room to hold our keys and display small polaroid photos. I’ve used them in the kitchen to store sugar packets and granola bars. I’ve stored countless pieces of jewelry in them and stacked them full with sunglasses, wallets, and change. I’ve used them for just about everything.

Credit: Olivia Muenter

As someone who loves organization and keeping things tidy but can’t really seem to get behind minimalism, the idea of having a particular place for certain items makes cleaning that much less stressful.

In a world that’s as hectic and busy as this one, having designated places for items makes on-the-go organization that much easier. If I don’t want to do a deep clean, but instead need to just speedily declutter things, throwing items in their designated bowls takes only seconds. It also makes it much less easy to lose things when everyone in the house knows they’re supposed to go in one place in particular. Plus, these pieces are almost always much-needed bursts of color and texture on a shelf or on a table. 

So while I can’t always afford the ornate pieces of antique furniture or paintings that my heart desires, a small dish or bowl cost me less than a latte most days. Plus, they keep me organized, so it’s a win-win all around.