Why I buy my craft supplies at thrift stores

Less Expensive Hobby and Craft Supplies

>by Christine Stephens

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Affordable craft supplies got much harder to find when Wal-Mart dropped fabric and needle work supplies, but there is a solution. A hit-and-miss collection of treasures can sometimes be found at your local thrift stores.

First, thrift stores are the recipients of many estate and garage sale craft supplies. They also see many more treasures of the truly too busy who purchased craft supplies yet never got around to start their project.

These treasures include new skeins of expensive yarn. A whole gallon-sized bag of DMC cross-stitch floss. Big pieces of Aida cloth, plastic canvas, and ribbon can be had. Many stores even offer kits; some may have just been opened and forgotten. Many thrift stores have a good collection of sewing patterns too. Even tools, such as crochet, latch hook and knitting needles, can often be found in thrift stores for less than one-third of discount store prices. There's no guarantee you'll find what you need in unopened packaging, but it can and does happen.

Second, thrift stores are wonderful sources of recycled materials. Where else can someone find two yards of faux leather for $5, a complete set of drapes big enough to recover your dining room chairs, tons of bed sheet cotton in any color and yards and yards of flannel for $2 a sheet? For the truly experienced crafter, there are endless sweaters to recycle for crochet and knitting projects.

Most thrift stores offer sale days where certain items are discounted. One chain of stores offers Outlet Centers where one can pick up recycled materials by the pound for reuse in your next project or maybe home crafting business.

Thirdly, thrift stores are also excellent sources of used furniture. Any experienced refinisher can spot a laminate or real wood treasure from 20 yards. Laminate isn't an option for a stripping job but makes a wonderful surface to paint once thoroughly cleaned and lightly sanded. A quick scan of the Internet will list a wonderful variety of faux paint effects that can be cheaply reproduced. Real wood furniture has endless finish possibilities and is truly a treasure. Upholstered furniture items can be easily reupholstered with a little self-study of library materials on the subject. Dining room chairs are a wonderful first project. Then work your way up to redoing chair cushions and making slip covers. The same thrift store can be a wonderful source of recycled curtains, drapes, and expensive sheet sets that provide more than adequate materials for just a few dollars.

Fourth, every crafter needs a place to work and store materials. As spare room varies greatly from crafter to crafter, one may start with a shoe organizer on the back of a door, a tackle box, and a plastic storage container all purchased at the thrift store. A crafter with more space can find recycled shelving, plastic storage boxes, tackle boxes, and desks at the same thrift stores to outfit their crafting area.

Despite the scarcity of affordable craft supplies and equipment in some towns, thrift stores remain an excellent source of materials, supplies, equipment, and craft room furnishings for people in any town or city.

Christine Stephens is a single, frugal woman living in the Midwest. She graduated from the Elliott School of Communication with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Print Journalism. She has been a devoted Dollar Stretcher reader for eight years. She enjoys the hobby of needlework with second-hand materials, supplies, and equipment.

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