Thrifting Habit Turns Her Into a Collector of “Orphans”

By Barb Tobias
NABBW’s Thrifting Expert

I am the queen of the unwanted; a collector of “orphans.”  Over the years I’ve embraced the flawed, snatched up rejects others passed over, delighted in the blemished and greedily coveted the imperfect and scarred.

Like metal to magnets, yard sales, consignment shops and thrift stores still lure me into their murky depths to find wonderfully tarnished bits and pieces that I meticulously turn into treasure.  Spotting décor that is unique or unusual has become my specialty … my signature talent. And, dramatic objects that ooze style or demanded attention make me blubber with affection.

After years of searching through the dimly lit recesses of garages, junk yards and barns, I’ve learned to ignore obvious defects, and concentrate on spotting the potential in every item. Identifying the latent beauty hidden beneath decaying layers of tarnish and grime became the rule as my skill and artistry grew.

  • In addition to recognizing promising finds, I’ve also learned to fix broken legs, repair antique frames, and mend holes in tattered throws.
  • Discovering that a peeling piece of furniture could be transformed with a brisk sanding and a new color, spurred me to reconsider items I would have normally passed on.
  • Oil stains became my best buddies  as I morphed the scratched and marred into things of beauty.
  • I learned what products took off rust, what transformed mirrors into bright reflectors, and what oils thirsty furniture craved.

Whenever I considered a piece worthy of purchase, I would first consider its assets, turning it one way then another.

  • “What can I do with you?”
  • “How would you look in a different color?”
  • “What would it cost me to repair you?”

Once I made the decision to rescue a waif, I would purchase the item if I felt that its condition warranted the asking price. Otherwise, I would make a reasonable offer hoping for acceptance or at least a friendly haggle.

Over the years I’ve transformed my home using amazing thrift finds that have turned my frumpy house into a fabulous home.  And, my nondescript wardrobe now boasts $20 fashion statements that are the envy of my frugal friends.

Barb Tobias is a professional speaker and inspiring coach who renovates lives, homes and wardrobes by sticking her curious little nose into other people’s “thrifty business.” After a lifetime of transforming trash into treasure, this savvy mistress of thrift shares her secrets to finding deals, repurposing before tossing, reconstructing the tattered and renewing things others view as passé in her recent release…Tossed & Found; Where Frugal is Chic. Her “tell all” book is not simply a journey of personal transformation, but teaches a newly frugal nation how to purchase, purge and profit from thrift.