The Thrill of the Thrift

When we were contemplating selling our beloved X-Terra SUV and moving into a truck I made my husband a deal. I said I’d be willing to get a truck if it meant that anytime we were travelling and I saw a roadside antique shop/junk barn that I got to stop. This was a big commitment for the husband who has a one-track “get directly to the destination” mindset when driving but he conceded and we got our truck. I love our truck and I got to continue my family tradition of treasure hunting as that is what I see as the heart of thrift shopping.

I’ve always had an appreciation for older/vintage items. I love their uniqueness and character. I love that they come with a story. I love giving them new life and saving them from a landfill and I love getting a great deal. As I see less and less of these roadside shops I am forever grateful for community thrift stores that are a literal smorgasbord of fun finds.

Thrift stores are a collection point for what I would view as three main categories of goods. Vintage items, second-hand practical items and clothing. All of these categories are useful and worth checking out. Here in Estevan, we have two fabulous thrift shops that fund local charities and give further purpose to your shopping.

The Second Chance Store on 4th Street funds the Choose Life Ministry started by Shelley Boyes. This organization “was founded to establish a place for young women between the ages of 18-29 to find freedom from life-altering challenges.”

The Salvation Army’s Thrift Store and church are located on 4th street as well and the organization supports the community in various crucial ways including disaster relief, a food bank, the Christmas hamper campaign and the Warm Welcome Kitchen. Both places are a treasure trove of items needing homes and every dollar spent there greatly benefits those in need.

Thrift shopping can be a bit of an art and I’ve got some tips on key practices to share.

1. Go Often

This is a key practice of being a successful thrift shopper. Thrift stores are constantly taking in items and restocking their shelves so if you want to score the good finds you have a greater chance of success if you’re in the store regularly. It doesn’t have to be for a long time and doing a quick 5-10 minute scan of the store once a week will give you a good glimpse at any new stock.

2. Have a Shopping List

It pays to be intentional and to know what you’re looking for. You can keep a list in the notes of your phone for easy access. If you’re looking for
something to add to your home or wardrobe it often pays to consider second hand first as it will reduce the consumerism load and save you money.

3. Consider Repurposing

One of the great things about thrift shopping is that it is an opportunity to think creatively and see items in a different light. Just because an item was meant to be used in one way doesn’t mean you can’t use it entirely differently.

4. Consider Refinishing

A can of spray paint can be your best friend with thrifting decor items and furniture. Look at the bones and shapes and imagine its possibilities.
(This lamp got paint, wood beads and a new shade.)

5. Use Coupons and Loyalty Cards

Second Chance offers a loyalty card and paying attention to which colour tags are on sale at any given time will help you save even more money.
Establishing good practices is just half the battle, it’ll serve you well to know WHAT to look for as well. This will obviously vary based on your style and what you value but here are the things I’m always on the hunt for. When it comes to decor I believe that layering the new alongside older pieces with a story adds character and uniqueness to your home.

Interesting Art

Personally, I am always on the lookout for vintage art prints (specifically nature scenes) in nice frames. Even if you don’t like the look of a print, pay attention to the frame and consider using it to frame your photos other art.


Boho and farmhouse decor have been trending for a while and baskets offer an inexpensive way to add texture and warmth to your home. I use baskets for plant pots, as wall decor, as storage and waste/recycling containers.

Real Wood

So much furniture nowadays is particle board wrapped with wood veneers so sourcing out older pieces that are solid wood is a great idea. Real wood can easily be given new life through sanding, re-staining or painting. If you’re not up for the DIY you can also hire professionals like Jewels and Jems Furniture Redesigns to upgrade your find.


Brass finishes are making a comeback and some of my favourite things to look for are quaint candlestick holders and small dishes to use as jewelry trays or containers for office items like paper clips. (Bonus tip – I almost always see taper candles at thrift stores.)

Kids Clothing

My tall children rapidly outgrow their clothes so I am all for saving money by purchasing second hand clothes for them. Knowing brands that tend to have higher quality construction will help you get more value for your money.


We enjoy playing games in our house and they can get pricey. I check the games section every time I’m at a thrift store and search for ones we don’t have. If I’m unsure of whether we’ll enjoy it I buy it and view it as a game rental. If we don’t like it I’ll donate it back and I’ve supported a good cause and tried a new game.

Lastly, thrift stores are one of my favourite places to shop when I’m travelling. Each region tends to have a different type of vibe and items in their store. My house is filled with thrifted art from Montana, Banff, and the Northern Sask lake we grew up frequenting, etc.

I hope that visitors to Estevan will consider stopping at our thrift stores and enjoy the hunt of a memento of their trip to bring home.

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Monique Willms
Monique Willms
Monique and her family have called Estevan home for the last 18 years and she has a long history of seeing her surroundings in creative ways and adding whimsy to the mundane. A constant need to explore and adventure has allowed her to seek out hidden gems in our area and cultivate ways to enjoy and engage every season in the South East.



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