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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Feathering my nest on the cheap -- dinnerware

Is there anything more thrilling to a frugal shopper than a stellar deal on something they've already got on their must-have list?

I think not!

You know my passion for dinnerware. I love plates. I love bowls. I love tea cups and mugs and platters and serving dishes. I love it all! It helps our budget that I've stuck with the same patterns that I chose 35 years ago.

But pieces get chipped, broken and crackled. And my dinner parties get larger and larger. So, from time to time, I need to replace items or acquire additional pieces to expand our entertaining capability.

I could buy individual pieces through a traditional retail store, department and discount stores, shop vintage resale stores, or,

keep my eyes and mind open to bargain opportunities in thrift stores!

To give you a ballpark on the dinnerware savings I typically find in thrift stores:
  • a soup/cereal bowl in Johnson Bros. Friendly Village pattern (the one I use fall and winter) retails, full price, for $12.50
  • same soup/cereal bowl can be found on Amazon or in Marshall's for $6.99 to $9.99 -- good, yes?
  • shopping the vintage resale places in our neighboring vintage district, I can find these bowls for about $5 to $6 each, better,
  • or best (short of someone out right giving me what I need), the same soup/cereal bowl in Goodwill for $1.99

I realize that there's a bit of an ICK-factor with some things from thrift stores. But with dishes -- they go into the dishwasher and get sanitized in my own home, to my specifications, before I even use them. Think about it, you eat with forks, bowls, plates, glasses, mugs that have been used by complete strangers, every single time you eat in a restaurant! And you have no control, whatsoever, as to the cleaning and sanitizing of restaurant dinnerware. That's a pretty good argument against any case of cooties I imagine that I'll contract, by buying thrift store dinnerware, don't you think?

Now, you wanna see the dinnerware that I bought in August and September at my local thrift stores? Here it all is:

4 bread and butter plates, 5 soup/cereal bowls, 1 salad plate, 2 fruit saucers, 2 mugs and 1 tea cup. I paid between 99 cents and $1.99 per piece, spending a total of $25.93. All of these pieces, combined, retail for over $200.00, full price. My savings, by buying my dishes at thrift stores this summer, instead of shopping retail stores, was 87.5% off of retail prices! Woo hoo!!!

So, there is a drawback to thrift shopping for dinnerware. I can't just walk into any thrift store and expect to find pieces in my pattern. Many times, I scour the dinnerware section, and come up empty-handed. But I do know that eventually the dinnerware that I'm looking for, will show up. And I buy the pieces that interest me, then.

Just another feather for my warm and cozy nest!

An FYI -- when thrifting, I came across a lot of Christmas items. Now would be a very good time to check your local thrift stores for those Christmas-themed gifts or dinnerware, while everyone else is focusing on Hallowe'en and autumn.


  1. Very nice to find a particular want at a very reasonable price.

    1. Hi Carol,
      I thought so, too!
      Have a wonderful day, Carol! Good luck with your new routine!

  2. Patience is the name of the game when being frugal. Do you find it fun to be on a treasure hunt for you dinnerware? It must be pretty exciting when you find some.

    1. Hi live and learn,
      I think that's why I'm so addicted to thrift shopping, it's a treasure hunt!

  3. Yesterday I was at an auction. The deals were amazing! Solid wood teak bedroom sets no marks or scratches going for $400.00 this was less expensive than buying through Craig's list ( Kijiji here).
    I have been looking for an additional vacuum, some have an ick factor. Purchased a Filter Queen at a church rummage sale a week ago. It was the end of the sale and half price from $15.00. It is in immaculate condition, attachment tools appeared to have never been used. I figured out it was from 1994 and was on the 8th of the original 12 filters/bags that came with the vacuum. They had included all the original paperwork and additional filters( paper and charcoal). Everyone in my family was amazed. The poor lady working the cash had been sitting in front of it for the whole sale about 4 hours by the time I arrived. She knew I got a bargain and wished she had seen it to buy. It's like a grocery store, look high, look low when at these community sales.

    1. Hi Teresa,
      Oh, what great deals! You're right, you have to really look, and sometimes look a few times, to spot the bargains. But they are there!

  4. Great deals! I share your love of dishes. It is amazing how much better food looks and tastes on nice dishes. I
    have white dishes I use year around. I have 3 sets of china and a few pieces of my moms Willow ware that I add in as the mood stikes me.

    1. Hi Patti,
      I agree. Everything looks so much better when nicely placed on good dishes.

      Willow ware is one of my favorites. I sometimes wish I'd gone with a blue and white theme, as you can find so many patterns that look great together.

      Have a wonderful day, Patti!

  5. I have bought a few dishes at thrift store. I soak it in bleach solution. Do you have any other advice? BTW, I love using baking soda to scrub my pots and sinks. I think it works better than the Comet brand stainless steel cleanser.

    Have a nice evening!!


    1. Hi YHF,
      I think you're on the right track with a mild beach solution. I volunteer washing dishes, once per month, at a fund-raiser. We have to follow health and safety codes set by the health department. After washing dishes in hot soapy water, then rinsing. We follow-up with a sanitizing of a small amount of bleach to water, if I remember correctly it's something like 1 tsp or 1 tablespoon bleach per gallon of water. I just run them through the dishwasher, myself.

      We do have a "rule" about soft items (clothing, stuffed animals, etc) that come home from thrift stores. They go directly to the laundry room (no taking to bedrooms before washing) or put in the freezer for several days (for stuffed animals). I really, really do not ever want to deal with bed bugs, so I make us follow these "rules".

      Have a wonderful evening, yourself, YHF!

    2. I regularly add bleach (a single spray shot) to my soapy water when washing our dishes since our kitchen water doesn't get hot enough. I often wondered about the yarns I buy. I immediately bag them in plastic bags, but they are not 100% airtight so I might have to think harder about how I'm storing them. Fabric, I just carefully inspect, that too I should be careful and try to bag them airtight.


  6. I do the same thing, Lili. Whenever I go to a thrift store, I scan the shelves for my dinnerware, Mikasa's French Countryside. I found a stack of 10 dinner plates for $7 a few years ago. It's nice to have extras when company comes or as you said, when something chips or breaks. Melissa


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