May 9, 2024

Finding Joy in Preserving Vintage Items

picture of vintage mirror and green chair

As you wander through the packed shelves of your nearest thrift store, you might just be walking right past some incredible antique treasures. The artsy lamp shade, dusty painting, or tangled gold necklaces you see, just might be something worth buying.  

As an avid thrifter and reseller of vintage items, Ray Norton shares her thrifting tips to help others enjoy the thrifting process and how to find some vintage treasures along the way. Ray, a “secondhand sorcerer”, frequents the Deseret Industries nearest her to find treasures either for her own home or to resell at a secondhand vendor shop.  

Throughout her thrifting adventures, Ray has found some amazing treasures at DI such as a:  

  • Real gold necklace  

  • High-value art print  

  • High-dollar duffle bag  

Learn a few of Ray’s tips for finding joy in preserving vintage, unique items that deserve a second life.  

1. Know the best times for thrifting.  

Finding popular vintage items is really a matter of knowing the best times for thrifting. Most people donate items over the weekend as they declutter their homes and garages, which means those items are then processed and shelved towards the beginning of the following week. To beat the crowd of other weekend thrifters, visit DI on a Monday or Tuesday.  

Time, as well as day, matters when it comes to finding unique treasures. Each thrift store processes and restocks differently, so befriend the associates at the store and become familiar with when they typically restock. If you are looking for a specific item, the associates may be your greatest help in finding such items.  

If you go at the right time and day and still don’t find any cool treasures, don’t get discouraged! DI’s processing system only allows items to be in store for 3 months maximum and then they are either used for humanitarian or recycling purposes, so just remember it’s basically a whole new store every day as items are put onto the floor daily.  

2. Know how to research and identify vintage and antique items.  

Half the battle of finding vintage items is being able to identify them to begin with. Some of you may have the vintage items found in your grandparents’ basements memorized, but the majority of thrifters need to learn as they go and become more familiar with antiques. Ray’s tips for identifying vintage and antique items include two things:  


  • Google Lens Image Search: Use your Google Chrome app on your phone to search for an image by taking pictures of the item in question. Google will find matching images of the item, which often includes images from secondhand websites where these items are being sold.  

  • Pay Attention to Clothing Tags: When it comes to vintage clothing, the tags are going to be your biggest indicator of how old the item is. Older clothing tags have a different look than tags today. Vintage clothing tags are often intricately designed and textured, even including embroidered items or lettering.


Image of a vintage frame on top of a fire place

3. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by thrifting, go with a plan.  

Knowing your style and aesthetic will make the thrifting process much easier. Ray explained that having a plan of what you’re looking for can help you stay focused and excited about thrifting. When Ray is looking for something specific, she pays close attention to the signs in the stores, being sure to look in those locations first to avoid clutter burnout.  

So, whether you’re looking for your next art piece for your mantle or a vintage vest to complete your next work outfit, be sure to keep in mind what you came for, so you don’t get overwhelmed.  

Thrifting with a plan in mind also includes knowing your own personal style and aesthetic. Knowing your style will help you avoid buying things you don’t need. One rule of thumb Ray shared was to not buy something just because it is cheap. But if it’s something you’d wear or decorate with, go for it!  

If you’re just getting into the thrift game, or wanting to elevate your thrifting skills, remember these tips to help you enjoy the process. Thrifting can be the perfect way to find joy in items that deserve a second life.


bookends in the shape of hands

About Ray:  

Ray Norton is an avid thrifter who shares and sells her unique thrifted finds on her Instagram page, @yarnotron_vintage. On her page, she shares her finds, how she refurbishes and updates items, and wears or decorates with them.


Image of Ray, a blond girl in a green backyard