It’s the snowiest winter in the Inland Northwest since the 2008/2009 season (according to Inland Northwest Weather Blog) and the 20th worst December since 1892. In December 2008 we got 61.5 inches.  In December 2016 we got 19 inches.  It’s still a lot of snow.  But there’s not a lot of estate sales and I’m going through withdrawals.  And as much as I hate summer, “sale-ing” outside in the frigid-as-a-polar-bear’s-tit weather is never fun.  Not ever.  Not even without my two ADHD kids.  Nope, not worth it.

Fortunately there are many other options to satisfy my withdrawals from warm weather thrifting.  Here are my three favorite options when I can’t find an estate sale to dig through (or don’t want to):

1. Family & Friends Barter Party.

This kind of party is when you ask the invited guests to each bring a set number of items (I’d keep it less than 10) that they no longer love, but are still in good condition. These items will be “thrown into the pot” for everyone to have a chance to get for themselves.

Ask each person to also bring an appetizer or beverage to share.

As everyone arrives the organizer takes their items and “sets up the shop” by grouping like items together while the guests munch and meet.

Guests draw numbers to determine who’s first, and so-on.

When you’re ready to shop each person picks one item at a time. The cycle keeps going as everyone has a chance to pick the same number of items they brought.

Sometimes not everything will be picked.  If that happens you can give the owner a chance to take them home or have a designated person load all the extras into their vehicle and the leftovers get donated to a thrift store.

To spice things up you can make it a “White Elephant Party” and encourage stealing.

This party isn’t for everyone. I have fun at these. Not all of your friends will enjoy thrifting as much as you or I do.  I find it exhilarating.

2. Thrift stores.

But not just any thrift store.  I like the tiny local thrift stores because so many cool things are there and sometimes you have to dig around in bins to find some really cool treasures.

I don’t like the big stores.  I’m not a fan of the Salvation Army Store (mostly because a rude woman gave me a dirty look and stared down my then 2 year old daughter as I walked through the store.  Then she started to yell – because that’s part of her speech delay – and the bitch tells me that the manager of the store will kick me out if she doesn’t quiet down. Pleasant Hill, CA, I’m talking to you! No, I will not apologize for calling her a bitch. She was nasty and waited for my daughter to “act up”. I never went back to that store.) And the regular goodwill stores don’t do it for me anymore if I want to get lost for hours.  Those stores are great if you know exactly what you want because they’re very well organized.  I like to dig around so I can get my estate sale fix.

The thrift store that I absolutely love the most?  Goodwill OUTLET stores.

I know, right!?

Goodwill has outlet stores?

If you’re fortunate enough to live in a city with a Goodwill Outlet you’re going to lose your pants.

Plan on spending three hours on your thrifting adventure to the outlet.  Bring grungy clothes and gloves.  You’ll be digging through bins and bins of stuff that the regular goodwill stores couldn’t sell.  You pay by the pound and, i was a total dork when this happened the first time, you roll the cart onto a scale and it weighs your items (minus the 45 pounds for the cart, I think).  The price per pound drops if you have more weight.  I can easily fill my cart for less than $35.  I have found some awesome toys and other kid things like paper storage bins and cabinets to upcycle into play kitchens.  My 7 year old son, especially, loves our outlet adventures.

3. Declutter.

Yup.  Going through clothes that don’t fit, toys that are too young for the kids (or broken), items that no longer bring me joy; I send them off to donation (not the broken ones).  And since many of our material things are thrifted, I feel like it’s the circle of life.  These items get to bless another owner, I don’t have to pay full price for them, and it’s one less thing going to a landfill. And since I didn’t have to pay full price for them initially (unless I bought them new), now someone else won’t either.

When you declutter you should also shop your own home.  Find new uses for things hidden in the closet, rework your space with things you already own.  And now that you’ve gotten rid of some things, I’m assuming your house is looking much happier and you’re not cringing in anger every time you walk in (we don’t have to talk about how I know this feeling).


It’s mid-January now.  It’s cold here with rain on the way.  We’ve been visited by Winter Storm Helena and Winter Storm Jupiter.  Snow will be coming back next week (I wonder what that winter storm will be named?) and if the world ends right here, I’ll never see another estate sale or outdoor yard/garage sale again.  I can only hope that the doom and gloom of the dirty snow-covered sidewalks is brightened by my own decluttering mission that I’m taking on these next few weeks.
Watch for more posts about what I’m saying goodbye to, while we wait for spring and summer together.  (Even my California friends are getting lots of rain)

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