Recycling and its sister, upcycling (the practice of repurposing an object for a different, or better, use), have never been more fashionable. And, when you can shop for items that still have a lot of life for them, and in turn, give back to the community, there’s a lot of benefit to shopping for furniture and accessories from second-hand stores, especially those like the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, in Lanier Plaza, in Brunswick.
So, a limited budget is no longer someone’s only entree into the world of thrift shopping, especially when one’s purchases can make a real difference in the lives of others.
Interior designer, author and television host Elaine Griffin asserts that vintage and thrift store shopping is at an all-time high, thanks to what she refers to as “peripatetic millenials” who deem wherever they lay their hats as their homes, and the ecological focus on carbon footprints. Reusing existing furniture means the environment wasn’t disturbed in its creation.
“I discovered (the) Glynn County Habitat for Humanity ReStore completely by accident,” Griffin said. “A friend asked me to meet there, and I was blown away by the quality and incredible selection of their merchandise.” In fact, Griffin was so impressed it is now her Golden Isles “Marché aux Puces,” which is the name of the celebrated French flea market at St. Oeun in the Paris suburbs.
Those who shop for second-hand furniture come from all walks of life, but Griffin says the ReStore is the perfect resource for those who are furnishing both second and full-time homes, whether they need furniture, accessories, art or objects.
“Our ReStore does a thriving business reselling construction goods as well, including doors, kitchen cabinetry and windows,” she said. The Restore is Habitat for Humanity of Glynn County’s year-round fundraiser. Proceeds cover the overhead for the organization, and remaining monies are added to the building fund to build safe, affordable homes in Glynn County.
For those who are working on specific projects and looking for just the right item, Griffin has some advice.
“The secret to getting the most out of the ReStore is to shop early and often – when fabulous donations hit the floor, they don’t linger,” she said. “Local antiques dealers make regular rounds, and the best treasures tend to be snapped up in a nanosecond.”
ReStore’s pricing model is like the famous Filene’s Basement in Boston. Prices decrease every two weeks.
“It’s furniture Russian roulette – so if you fall in love, surrender quickly,” Griffin said.
Of course, the Glynn County ReStore has an advantage that ReStores in other communities may not have.
“Living in a luxurious, second-home market means that the contents of entire houses turn over frequently,” she said. “I’d like to send a thank you note to every grandchild who loved Nana’s house, but not her furniture, because it’s in part thanks to their generations that … ReStore is such a success.”
Griffin says there are a few things to consider when buying vintage furniture:
• For upholstery and rugs, dirt is to be expected and isn’t a deal breaker. A professional upholstery cleaning is inexpensive and does the trick. It’s budget-friendlier to get your rooms all finished, and then have them come do multiple rooms/entire house in one fell swoop.
• Tears in upholstery can’t be easily repaired, so if you can’t hide a tear with a throw pillow, then plan on reupholstering the piece. Low prices help ensure reupholstering isn’t a scary add-on to your design budget.
• Lavish wood furniture and accessories with a coating of Old English Scratch Cover as soon as you get them home (covers better than plain furniture polish).
• Lamps are easily rewired (one YouTube video will make even the most inexperienced person a pro in 60 seconds), so don’t let that faze you. The big box retailers all have great replacement shade options.