Moving into a new, and for that matter, completely empty apartment made me regretfully think of all the boxes with my glasses, mugs and plates stacked away on the other side of the ocean. Out of necessity, I would have to buy everything anew again...
After a few tears cried, I quickly realised what that meant: thrifting with a purpose! Although this is somewhat against Murphy's law of thrifting (You only find treasures when you are NOT looking for them, which translates to: You are highly unlikely to find anything you desperately need). But hej, we are still in America, the home to charity shops! The conditions were in my favour: lots of shops run by elderly women, filled with everything the upper and middle class did not want anymore.
Thrift shops are not so common in Germany, although there is Humana of course, which sells mainly textiles. For furniture and home wares, flea markets are a better bet here. There are some shops, usually connected to a shady businesses cleaning out apartments of those deceased without relatives, but their prices are usually hefty, especially in Berlin. I have perused most of them in Neukölln, struck with awe when peeking at the price tags of stuff that seems as if it had been sitting in the back of hopelessly crammed shops for ages already.
But back to Houston. Luckily - though not coincidentally - we moved into a neighbourhood that probably offers some of the best thrift shopping in town: Montrose. Some of the basic stuff we needed right away like a set of plates, bowls and glasses we bought at IKEA, also because their prices still beat the Thrift shop prices. And thrifting is time consuming, as you wait for the price to go down the longer the item sits in the shop, so you need a decent pinch of luck to make real bargains.
1902 Commonwealth St
open Wed - Sat, 11am - 4pm
It is run by the Assistance League of Houston that benefits school kids. The shop is not the biggest, but offers not only clothes but also furniture and home wares. Once I saw a beautiful couch the colour of eggplants for a incredible 70$, but I felt I needed my better half's consent. The next morning we showed up, the couch was gone already. The home ware section is not so much vintage and you probably won't find art deco gems here, but I bought some useful stuff there in decent conditions, like large salad bowls with lits, plastic pitchers, or a tiny glass holding our toothbrushes, all for 1$ each.
Recently, they had some nice old sports equipment, perfect for decoration purposes.
So far I mainly ignored the clothes, but saw a nice hat from the 50s and regularly check the leather bags. The opening hours ie. days are somewhat restrictive though, but therefore it seems a little less frequented.
The next one on my routine trip was usually the
CHARITY GUILD SHOP
1203 Lovett Blvd
open Mon - Sun, 10am - 4pm
This is a vintage wonderland. An ample furniture section is followed by a very well equipped house ware section. Here you can find truly everything you need (if you really need something), the items are very well sorted and it is easy to get an overview without having to dig through a lot of crap. This convenient arrangement is reflected also in the prices, that are a little higher elsewhere.
If you have time to observe your item of choice, you can get a good bargain here, unless somebody else is willing to pay the initial price. Here too I mainly focused on household items and furniture, as the clothes are rather second-hand and not vintage, ie. from the last few years and nothing too special. When on the look out for some home decoration, I got some nice old photographs framed with cardboard in beautiful colours there, for something around 3$.
They also offer books from every period, silverware and kitchen appliances.