Feb 23, 2024

Thrifting: Give Old Things New Life

Rob Freeze
YouTuber, @Oldshovel

I am a regular thrift shopper who frequents DI. Sometimes I think of thrift stores as public libraries. I drop off items of lasting value that I am no longer using so it can have a new life with its next owner. I also pick up items I can use, giving them a new life with me. 

A big part of how I live is my mantra, “Look for opportunities to give old things new life.” My tips for thrift shopping follow suit in expanding that mantra. 

Tip #1: Know what you are looking for. 

Being knowledgeable about the types of items you are looking for will help you focus on where to look and what to look for. Personally, and for my YouTube channel, I regularly look for bikes. My knowledge of bike brands, components, bike repair costs, and value helps me determine what bikes I can bring home and truly give a new life to. So, if you are looking for something specific—like a bike, furniture, or tableware—educate yourself in that area as best as you can on the brands, components, repair costs, and value so you can find the best thrifted items that meet your needs. 

Tip #2: The hunt is part of the fun and the cost. 

Thrifting should be a synonym for hunting. Thrift stores don’t have the same items on the shelf every day, so you may have to come often and hunt deep to find what you are looking for. The hunt is part of the experience; enjoy it. If you are looking for that perfect piece of vintage furniture to restore for your living room, it may take coming in regularly before that right table shows up. You may even have to explore several other thrift stores. The hunt is part of the cost of thrifting, and the thrill comes when you finally find the item you’ve been hunting for. 

Rob Freeze with a bike he fixed
Rob Freeze refurbishes old bikes and posts about the process on his YouTube channel, @Oldshovel.

Tip #3: Know what you can do with an item. 

Giving things new life often involves restoring, fixing, changing, or cleaning. If you are picking up a used bike from the thrift store, getting it back to a new life state may take fixing and replacing a few things. Knowing what you, a friend, a family member, or a bike shop are able and willing to do is essential to providing that new life. 

Tip #4: If you don’t have a use for an item, leave it. 

Thrift stores have all kinds of amazing, quality items with lasting value just waiting to be given new life. Without focusing on what you are looking for and what you can use, you could end up with a car full of things you do not need. If you don’t have a use for it, don’t bring it home, even if it is super awesome. That would be like checking a book out from the library that you never intend to read. Leave it for someone else to find. Perhaps it’s that perfect table they’ve spent the last few months hunting for. 

About Rob: 

Rob Freeze is a YouTuber and avid thrifter. He lives by the mantra, “Look for opportunities to give old things new life.” He thrifts for both himself personally and for content he can use on his YouTube channel, @Oldshovel. On his channel, Rob shares the process of refurbishing old bikes and tools.