By Kellene Bishop
There’s a great deal of success for your preparedness efforts waiting to be snatched at your local thrift store, or a myriad of other places. And today I’m going to give you just few of those ideas. But before I do…
I know that many of you are anxiously awaiting the continuation of the water filtration article. It’s written (and, in fact I even accidentally posted it for about 8 hours), but out of respect for the expert whom I quote and resource in the article, I’m going to wait for him to approve the content before publishing. However, in the meantime, there are plenty of preparedness topics to cover and lots to share. So, just look at this article as a minor detour. *grin*
I’ve always said that a person can get abundantly prepared for the future challenges for cheap or even free and I’ve been proving that to myself over and over again lately at my local thrift store. As such, I thought I’d share with you some of the items that really are worth the time to stop and find through using second-hand resources whether they be garage sales, thrift stores, FreeCyle.org, or your local classifieds. I know that I will be more aggressive and diligent in finding some key items for my supplies this year. There’s just too much great stuff to find for pennies on the dollar. MY favorite addiction is my local thrift store, Savers, because every time I drop off a donation, they give me a coupon for 20% off of anything I buy. LOVE it!
Oh how I love finding great, old books that I’ve heard of for years but are hard to location because they are no longer in print. I rarely read fiction but my passion is not shared by many who discard their non-fiction books like they are head lice or something. I guess folks are looking for more of an “escape” nowadays and getting rid of their serious books. More for me! Homesteading, matters of the constitution, gardening, animal husbandry, cooking, cooking, and cooking. It’s all great and so very, very cheap. Some of these are such great finds that if I was ambitious enough, I’d buy these books and then place them on E-bay or Amazon for a profit. Instead I bring them home and prioritize when I’ll read them. *grin* But hey, it’s not a bad idea for some of you who need a little extra income.
I refuse to spend money on workout clothes. Isn’t it humiliating enough that I have to actually buy something that big only to know that the only reason I need it is so that I’m clothed while I’m sweating my brains out? So yes, the gently used store is the place to be. In addition to those kinds of things, I also find other tools to help in my physical preparedness such as wagons, compact dollies, and even some quality exercise equipment.
I have to say that aside from books, this is the area that I find to be the biggest treasure trove. It’s the best kept secret in my opinion. Keep an eye out for medical supplies such as walkers, ace bandages, braces, knee pads, and gently used bedding materials. These items are seriously expensive at full price or even coupon priced in the stores, but you really make out in the preparedness category, thanks to someone wanting to get rid of that pair of crutches. You’ll be strengthening your medical preparedness all the while, being ready for all kinds of possibilities in the future. I’ll worry about getting the pain relief medicines such as Tylenol and such when I can get it free at Target. *grin*
Boy, am I finding a lot of great stuff in this category! Great light bulbs (the good kinds), flashlights, gas/propane heaters, thick tarps, rope, hand tools such as crow bars, hammers, and saws, garden tools, gently used work gloves, etc. I specifically check at my thrift store once a week for both fleece and wool blankets. I’m averaging only 99 cents a yard for both right now—there’s not a fabric store in sight that can offer fleece or wool for that price! This past Monday my thrift store had everything 50% off so I stocked up with TWO entire carts full of fleece blankets! I then brought them home, laundered them, and then sealed and “shrunk” them in those space-saving bags and stashed them with the others. Co-axial wire…lots and lots of wiring. I've purchased LOTS of sewing thread, buttons, and other supplies that were marked way down. Now if I could just be lucky enough to find a Singer Treadle Sewing Machine there one of these days. Guess I’ll just have to hunt the garage sales aggressively instead.
I also need to mention the heavy boots I’ve found and lots and lots of camouflage clothing. In my opinion, you can never have enough of that kind of material. I also have a thing for denim, because when denim wears out it’s going to require more denim to replace or patch them. (Duct tape just doesn’t cut it sometimes!) Denim is a comfortable clothing for most and unless you’re foolishly spending money for the stuff that already has holes in it and is worn away, recycled denim stands up to hard work just as well as new denim does, so make sure it's included in your preparedness pantry.
I’ve found sleeping bags and other great bedding in clean condition and so long as I always launder it, I’m going to be really happy with it. Another item that’s on my radar for my preparedness stash is camouflaged fatigues and fabric. Even if they are “ginormous” and don’t fit myself or my hubby, I’m still inclined to purchase it because it will either fit someone else on my team or will make great camouflaged tents and tarps. Let’s not forget the spare sets of clothing that can be found for both hot or cold weather that we can keep stored away without missing them in our regular wardrobe. A spare pair of socks or shirt, etc. in your 72 hour preparedness kits isn’t a bad idea. (I wouldn’t suggest buying used underwear though folks. Gag. If you have to break the bank, do it to ensure that your 72 hour preparedness kits have clean underwear in them.)
I’ve hit the jackpot for candles with solid holders/bases as well as reflective mirrors to go behind them. Also a couple of propane heaters, steel wool, oil lamps. One shop gave me over 20 oil lamps for only $1.70 each! I even found a set of hearth tools which was perfect timing because we finally got our wood burning stove functioning. And I almost always find a gas-worthy container to use in my thrift resources, too. I consider those a great find!
I’ve actually been finding a lot of Brita type pitchers at these stores. Now I can buy them brand new with couponing for only a buck about twice a year, but having more pitchers likes that enables me to filter the water through the new pitchers and contain the water in the nearly free pitchers. Believe me, you’ll want more than one or two when your free-flowing water stops. I also have been “lucky” in finding a lot of those narrow, square water bottles. I love those for squeezing in just a little bit more water in the spaces I still have available throughout.
This is the primary reason I go in at least weekly now—to find all of the Mason jars I can get my hands on. I almost always seem to get a few, but there have been times when I’ve come home with enough to fill my entire dishwasher. Woohoo! I can never have enough canning jars! I’m also sure to check out all of the utensils they have to sell. Hand cranked beaters, rug beaters, whisks, large spatulas, metal serving or cooking spoons and lots of restaurant quality pots, pans, and accessories are also high on my list.
I have to admit that I do keep my eye out for items I might find that I know someone else is looking for. So I find it, sell it to them for a profit, but still provide a killer deal. Even better, though, is when I can find things in mint condition that make for great Christmas gifts. This way I’m shopping all year long and it doesn’t put a strain on my wallet during the Holiday Season. This past Christmas I was able to really stretch my budget even though I decided that I wanted to help play Santa to some of my nieces and nephews this year. Believe it or not, I found great hip, clothes and shoes that were worthy of the fickle fashion tastes of my nieces and nephews. I saved so much on that I didn’t have a single guilty twinge on the other gifts I purchased elsewhere—at a discount of course. I did so well I received the honor of Best Aunt of the year again. (That’s the only one I wear proudly.) It saved me a small fortune being able to do it this way and it sure made my husband happy for a change about how little I spent.
Well, I have to admit, I’ve found plenty of dead cell phones in the thrift stores—useless—but I’ve also found old radios—the older the better. One of these days I know I’m going to find that old fashioned vacuum tube radio and I’m going to jump on it. Also, any older pieces, even though non-working can be used for spare parts. I also would suggest that you don’t overlook the more rudimentary methods of communication like books on foreign languages, Morse Code, short-wave radio use, and shorthand, not to mention the notebooks and writing instruments that will come in handy then, too.
Of course no one has room for ALL of these kinds of treasures, but I’m sure that there will be something there that will be of interest to you and your family. I know that I feel 10 times better when I find what I’m looking for AND I get it for a penny and a song. It makes the whole act of preparedness feel that much more honorable and peaceful. One of the biggest benefits I get from all of this is that the less I spend on these items and the things I can get with coupons, the more I have to spend on other critical tools that you'll never be able to get "with a coupon." *grin*
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