Diamonds in the Rough: Dress your home and yourself with vintage, thrift and consignment shop finds
If a picture is worth 1,000 words, imagine the stories contained in a piece of antique or vintage furniture.
Kansas City’s vintage scene continues to thrive as people throughout Kansas City opt for these unique pieces over items found in big box stores. Take a stroll through the West Bottoms the first weekend of the month and you'll see the creativity and determination of these thrifty shoppers alive and well.
Even the triple-digit, humid heat of the summer doesn’t turn these shoppers away. At least 5,000 people pass through the antique stores and flee markets open in the West Bottoms the first weekend of the month, which extend First Friday festivities into Saturday and Sunday.
The trend to find affordable artistic items for the home has caught on in Kansas City and is spreading like wild fire.
“It’s picking up and I think it’s going to stick around,” says Trisha Henny, owner of Nook and Cranny.
Henny opened her store at 1231 Union Ave. in the West Bottoms in December. Her store is one of a dozen antique/vintage stores to open up there. These stores have capitalized on a key concept: providing awesome items, at an awesome price, in an awesome venue.
Who enjoys going to a big box store, wading through crowds of people to purchase a cheaply made piece of furniture or nicknack that inevitably hundreds of other people have? Shopping doesn’t have to be such a headache. In fact, it can be a fun adventure with the end result being a refurbished, bright teal desk chair, or unique hallway mirror, making you and your kitschy interior design the envy of all your friends.
And while you're at it, pick up a pair of designer jeans and trendy handbag on consignment. You and your house can look like a million bucks using a few simple tricks. Who says you can’t have champagne taste on a beer budget?
Interior design on a dime
If you want your house to look like it’s straight out of an issue of Home and Design, you don’t have to take out a second mortgage.
Take a trip to the West Bottoms the first weekend of the month. Not only will you find some great deals at the antique and vintage stores, the creativity that flows through these stores is sure to spark your imagination.
Trish Moore, owner of Good Ju Ju, 1420 W. 13th Terrace, encourages customers to get inspired when they come into her store.
“Design doesn’t have to be hard,” Moore says. “If you love it, bring it into your home. Don’t bring anything into your home that you don’t love. Don’t compromise.”
The trend for buying antique, vintage or consignment pieces has increased because of the recession, but Moore says this trend is likely to stick because the quality of older pieces enables them to last longer than newer furniture.
“You can go to Nebraska Furniture Mart and buy some furniture and in two years it may or may not be paid for but it will be on the curb,” Moore says. “There are a lot of good quality things here in Kansas City and it doesn’t have to come over from China on a cargo ship.”
JoAnn Fowler, part owner of Couches to Curios, 9012 Metcalf Ave., Overland Park, says quality and value have fueled the success of her business.
“The trend is to buy something nice so it doesn’t wear out,” Fowler says. “A lot of the items here are real wood.”
The consignment furniture shop opened a few months ago and the store already has repeat customers. “We have a lot of people who come in either every week or every other week just to see what’s new,” Fowler says.
Becoming a regular at your favorite store enables you to get some of the best deals.
Gina West says she comes into Habitat for Humanity Restore, 9850 W. 87th St., Overland Park, at least once a week. Restore sells used household items from sinks to furniture.
“Since I found out about the Restore, this is where I shop,” West says.
Restore Director Wally Binney says West is one of many regulars who come through the store each week. “We have regulars who come in if not everyday, then every other day.”
When it comes to antique and consignment stores, the early bird gets the worm. If you see an item you want, snag it before it’s too late.
“Don’t wait if you see something you like,” Henny says.
Once you learn the joys of thrift shopping, it’s good to spread the love. The most unique gifts come from thrift stores, antique malls and consignment shops.
Look for items that can be personalized to give to your loved ones. For instance, find an album of your significant other's favorite artist and frame it. The art work will make a great birthday gift.
Or buy a plate or tray at a thrift store and paint your friend’s favorite quote on it. Purchase an antique chest and fill it with towels, dishes and other household items for a graduation or wedding gift. Add some flowers to a vintage vase for a unique Mother’s Day gift. The possibilities are endless. Be as creative as your imagination allows. And don’t be afraid to shop months in advance. Your BFF’s birthday may not be until December, but if you see something that inspires you tomorrow go ahead and buy it.
If you are new to thrift store shopping and don’t know where to begin, head to Waldo. The thrift stores along Wornall Road between 75th and 90th streets are among the best in the metro. City Thrift, 7740 Wornall, and the Goodwill, 8929 Wornall, will not disappoint. Savers — with locations in Olathe, Overland Park, Shawnee, Independence and Liberty — is another favorite among thrift store shoppers.
Thrift stores are also a great place to snag clothes and other fashion items. Gently used clothes are easy to find at area thrift stores. Some times these stores receive items that are brand new with tags on them. Brands such as Banana Republic, Gap, Vera Wang and Burberry (yes, Burberry) can be found at thrift stores, you just have to be willing to dig.
For shoppers who don’t have the time or desire to search through racks and racks at thrift stores, consignment shops offer a great option. Arizona Trading Co., Plato’s Closet and Her Majesty’s Closet sell gently used designer clothes at a fraction of the cost. You can buy Prada, True Religion and Gucci at these stores and still have enough money left to buy items for your house at the West Bottoms during First Fridays.
Regardless of your budget, you don’t have to sacrifice quality or taste when you shop at area thrift, consignment and antique stores. Embrace your inner thriftiness and get inspired by what you find.
And as you shop, Moore says you should remember this No. 1 rule: “Buy what you love, buy what you love, buy what you love.”
Photo by Megan True