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thrifting: my why + how

Updated: Jul 8, 2021

I think my love for rescuing old things started in my early 20's when I was living in Detroit. My Mom had flown to Ohio to meet up with her sisters, and I drove over for a visit. One day, as we were driving, my aunt yelled, "Stop the car! There's a beautifully discarded luggage set on the side of the road + I need that for my trip!" Before I knew it, all four of us were hoisting + shoving the world's largest suitcases into our (small) 4-door sedan. The drive back to my aunt's house was full of SO MUCH ENERGY as the 3 sisters laughed + rode high on sheer exhilaration. I can still feel the cold breeze on my cheek remembering how my face pressed against the back window. "I can't believe we just did that!" was said more times than I can count; although my emotion was mostly embarrassment from this generational "gift" that unbeknownst to me, was about to take over my life.

Who knew I would someday do the same thing to my kids.

Many times.

From that moment on, my eyes were opened to the possibilities of garbage-picking + since having a taste of it firsthand, I wanted more.

Fast forward about a year: I moved into my first apartment, located on 9 mile road in Detroit. Remember the movie 8 mile with Eminem? Yep. My apartment was one mile away. (How my parents let me do that is beeeyyyooonnnnddd me.) I moved into my new place with only a twin bed + some clothes. By the end of the week, it was fully furnished. And not because I primed everything either. (Did Amazon even exist in 1998?) Nope; I thrifted, I wheeled&dealed + oh did I garbage-pick.

My apartment was just a couple miles from Grosse Pointe, which is a very well-to-do city. There are so many mansions + so many residents that would put beautiful furniture + home goods out as trash.

Enter Audra + her 15 passenger church van.

Yes, I drove a 15 passenger van. It was full of rusted holes + smelled like day-old onion bagels that were picked up + delivered to the soup kitchen every morning. But it was the perfect vehicle to shove all my garbage-picking treasures in.

(Can you just see my 19 year old self driving around every trash day + hoisting couches + entertainment centers into a rusty, old church van?)

Like I said earlier, this "gift" was going to take over my life.



With 20+ years of stories about deals I've found for free or while thrifting, you would cry laughing (or due to terror) if I told you the number of times my kids had their little cheeks pressed up against the windows.

Not my proudest moments.

Or are they…???

Nevertheless, more than the item that I find, it's all about the rescue for me. What was once discarded, has now been found. But more than just found, it's been given an opportunity for NEW LIFE.

Every so often, I get asked these two questions:

  1. Why do I thrift?

  2. How do I find such great things. All. The. Time.?

With over 20 years of experience (wink, wink) I can say that I might know a thing or two. Let's dive in.

My WHY: 1. Everything has a story. That alone draws me in.

2. I love the hunt + rescue. Sure, buying new is sometimes easier, but searching for it is aaalllll the fun for me. When you find something beautiful, that someone else thought wasn't, and then you rescue it….well, that just GIVES. ME. LIFE.

3. I love items that are unique + weird. At one moment in time, most things were mass produced. But over the years, the stragglers (somehow) found their way to a thrifted shelf. When you can transform something into an "original" piece, the value increases.

4. Supporting local, while also supporting beautiful community missions, is a non-negotiable.

(Remember when I visited the Hospice Benefits Thrift Shop the other day? This is a perfect example of supporting a local organization who's mission is so needed in our community. Just knowing that my purchases help local friends + neighbors with the grieving process of losing a loved one is a beautiful thing.)


1. Be patient + consistent. I don't find something every time I go. But like all things, consistency is key to success.

2. Know what you're looking for. It is super overwhelming if you just "go" without at least knowing the basic things that you're looking for. I have a mental list of about 10-12 things that I always look for. It makes it easy when I stop in for a quick visit.

3. Think outside the box. Can you paint it? Sand it? Use it for a different purpose?

More to come on this topic I'm sure! And the next time you're thrifting, tag me so I can (virtually) join you!

Love, Audra


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