Anyone who loves to shop secondhand has a wild story about purchasing an irresistible item. Personally, I'll never forget this one crazy thrifting adventure. A friend and I decided to complete a 12-hour, round-trip drive from D.C. to Connecticut in one day to pick up a set of beautiful burl wood chairs listed for just $100 each on Facebook Marketplace. We rented an oversized van to hold all eight chairs, divided them up so that we took home four each, and the rest was history. To make the drive home more fun, we stopped at various thrift stores along the highway in search of even more treasure. It was basically my idea of a dream day.
Since I know I'm definitely not alone in having a story like this one, I turned to five fellow thrift enthusiasts who share their wildest secondhand shopping stories. Warning: they're going to invoke major jealousy.
Scoring a $2,500 Rug for $25
"I was in a local thrift store and saw a pile of new (in their original packaging) rugs piled up. There was a corner peeking out, and it was a black and white wool rug in a zebra pattern. The sign said $50, and I couldn’t find a size or picture, but I do love a zebra rug. But, I also know us—did we need a rug that was 50 percent white? Deciding I wasn’t willing to risk $50 on a rug that would almost surely get stained in my home, I moved on. As I was leaving, I saw that they were 50 percent off. That changed things—I was willing to risk $25, so I loaded it up. The checkout girls told me that a local furniture store donated the pallet of rugs and this one originally sold for over $2,000 dollars. I was very skeptical, but I got the rug home, opened it up and it was a new, huge, 100 percent wool, zebra rug from Ethan Allen—and the original price from their website was $2,559. Perhaps my biggest thrift score dollar-wise ever!" —Marcie Millholland, @madebymolliesmom
Finding a Vintage Goyard Trunk for Just $90
"Several years ago, my grandmother and I spent the morning at estate sales, and we really lucked out (I found a 1960s Lanvin dress for $3 stuffed in the back of someone's closet). We didn't want to press our luck and headed home, but as fate (and the thrifting gods) would have it, we got stuck in traffic right next to a tiny little thrift store with a sign that read 'OLD WICKER.' Once inside, the shopkeeper said, 'Be sure to look in the old shed out back.' As soon as I walked into the shed, I saw it: a four-foot-tall, logo-covered Goyard trunk, complete with drawers, jewelry compartments, ribbons that said Goyard—and the best part of all, a price tag that read, 'Old trunk: $90.' I don't think I've ever loaded something in my car so fast. I had it authenticated weeks later, and it's the real deal." —Virginia Chamlee, @vchamlee
Finally Tracking Down a Dream Chair
"A rattan peacock fan back armchair was at the very top of my 'vintage wishlist' ever since I saw one in the 2017 Southern Living Idea House and at The Colony Hotel. For three years, I spent endless hours scouring the internet looking for one to call my own. I love to browse estate sales in other cities all over the U.S. to see what’s out there, and one day while browsing estate sales in Florida, I spotted one buried underneath a bunch of pillows—I couldn't believe it! So, as a rational person does, while sitting at home in Nashville, I immediately called the phone number on the estate sale listing to purchase the chair, sight unseen. This wasn’t the first time, nor will it be the last time I’ve pulled this stunt, but this particular instance was absolutely kismet because, after so many years of looking, it was only an hour away from my parents, making logistics easier. My family has become accustomed to me pushing the envelope when buying vintage furniture. I learned this behavior from my mom, so the desperate call to retrieve my purchase wasn’t too much of a shock to them, thankfully!" —Jess Ziomek, @thrillsofthehunt
Grabbing a Louis XVI Table on a Major Whim
"I was scrolling Facebook Marketplace during one of my self-sanctioned 'brain breaks' when I came across a blurry, terribly angled photo of what appeared to be an entry table. My 'you just found a gem' alert went off in my head, and before I knew it, I was messaging the seller to claim it. He had a line of people wanting it as well, so I told him I was jumping in the car to get it. I bailed on work and drove almost two hours on a whim and a blurry picture. Thankfully, it all worked out, and I got the most beautiful Louis XVI-style fruitwood table from the late 1800s in pristine condition. The seller had gotten it from an estate sale and was only the second owner." —Tara Carney, @thecarneysbloom
Picking Up a Massive Table and Chair Set
“I once found a vintage porcelain blue-and-white table that came with six matching garden stools on Facebook Marketplace. The listing was riddled with spelling errors and the pictures were grainy, but I decided to take a chance and go for it. My sweet husband drove three hours round trip to pick up this 300-pound table that barely fit into our car. It turned out to be absolutely stunning, and it is my forever favorite secondhand find.” —Kate Damich, @speakingofdiy