For over eighteen months in a row I have visited at least six charity and thrift shop in my area each and every week. That’s a total of 24 visits a month, 288 each year, or a grand sum of at the very least 432 visits. Because of the level of commitment I brought to my hobby there was quite a bit that I’ve learned and made some totally killer finds, and I can promise you that with the techniques I’ve learned you can start finding amazing quality merchandise without nearly the amount of work I put in.
I’m not interested in painting a rosy picture and sugar coating everything, so I am going to be completely straight-forward when I say: there’s a lot of junk at thrift shops. However, like this set of vintage blue and white Pyrex mixing bowls there are a lot of collectible high-end items you can get for basically nothing. If you were to buy this exact set on eBay or Etsy you could expect to spend over $100 plus shipping and handling. Where as I only paid $9 at GoodWill for the entire set. Which even compared to the low-end merchandise at WalMart is still a $21 savings, and that stuff is going to have to be replace by the time your lease is up.
Cute, right? Guess how much this cast iron saucepan and 6 1/2″ skillet would be if you bought it new… I’m waiting. Alright, time’s up *drum roll* Le Creuset would charge $100.00 for the skillet and $160 for the saucepan. There’s two reason why somebody would part ways with $360 for these items: they’re quality and have a lifetime warranty. So long as they’re in business if you pan is damaged you can get a new one for free. Oh yeah, I only paid $8.00 for the pair at a local Catholic-run thrift shop.
Because all the items at this charity shops or donated in one way or another there’s often some visible wear, but that doesn’t mean you cannot reverse it with a little of elbow grease and the right concoction. Take the vintage Polish enamelware teapot for instance. Whomever previously owned it boiled dry with something in the water, so at the bottom of the pot there was this crystalized layer of whatever the heck that was. Most might look at that and think its ruined or would required a lot of scrapping to get out of there, not so, The same goes for most burn marks you see on the surface of all enamelware.
So the long as the integrity of the enamel is in no way comprised you can dissolve those stains or burn marks right off. To restore this vintage teapot I used a few incredibly common household items: baking soda, vinegar(doesn’t matter what kind), water, dish detergent, and a heat source. Before you try this just make sure a simple washing wont do the trick, but assuming you’ve already tried that here’s what you do: put enough water in pan, pot, whatever to over the stain and bring it to a roaring boil. Cut the heat and add couple heaping tablespoons of baking soda and stir. Once that’s done reacting add in a two or three tablespoons of vinegar. Remember 5th grade science class? Yeah, that’s why don’t want to add too much water. After the “lava” stops rising add in a tablespoon of dish detergent or one of those dishwasher cubes. After that just leave it on your stove for a six or eight hours, and scrub the surface as you normally would to clean it. If the stain isn’t totally gone just rinse and repeat until it is. That teapot took me five days to get looking the way it does in that picture.