Thrift Store Impulse Buys and Other Saturday Adventures

by Lisa Lombardi in ,

As part of my New Year's resolution to stop over-thinking everything, I got up bright and early last Saturday and left the apartment on a mission. My first stop was Winmil Fabrics, in the Chinatown/Downtown Crossing area.

(Does anyone other than ambitious tourists actually venture downtown before noon on the weekends? It was eerily deserted at 11 a.m.)

My thorough research showed that Boston has basically one fabric store within the city limits (i.e. accessible to us carless people), and this is it. I'm sorry to report that it was as dingy and unimpressive as the outside suggested. To be fair, it had the kind of selection that fourth-grade-sewing-class-Lisa would have been all over: cotton/polyester with busy patterns in bright colors — pretty much everything you'd want for that reversible vest that you definitely wore in public on several separate occasions.

Ahem. Unfortunately, this did not fit present-day-Lisa's needs. Disappointing. This strike-out pretty much solidified what I had feared: I was going to have to order my fabric online.

Ordinarily, I prefer to do my shopping online. However, as someone who works in the online retail industry, I know firsthand just how unreliable product photographs can be, and fabric is especially finicky. But I was reading Rosa Beltran's blog when she mentioned that she buys a lot of the fabric for her projects from because they offer free returns within 30 days of purchase, so it's essentially a risk-free way to try a bunch of different options.

WHAT. This is kind of mind-blowing, because when you order fabric yardage, you're making a cut in the bolt that can't be undone. So, unless someone else wants the exact same fabric for the exact same length or less, the store is pretty screwed trying to re-sell it. I don't know how functions with this policy, but it was enough to convince me to just go ahead and order something already. (2015! New year! Cut the crap!)

Next stop: Michael's, to burn through the shiny new gift card I got for Christmas. There's no better way to celebrate the birth of Christ than by purchasing multiple cans of spray paint, right?

On my way home, I made a stop at Cheap Chic, a thrift store in Allston. I think a more accurate name would be Sometimes Cheap, Rarely Chic, but it's one of Nathan's go-to places for apartment stuff, so I figured I would give it a try. I was originally on the lookout for a mirror but an accent table caught my eye instead.

Remember this? Furniture shame incarnate?


Do not stare directly into its depths.

So, this table, down in the basement depths of Cheap Chic, caught my eye. It seemed like the right measurements for that corner of the living room, and there was something about the shape and details that I really dug. I'll admit, I waffled for a bit, walking endless circles around the piles of furniture while I had an inner debate.

No. Cut the crap. I bought it, and even haggled the price down a bit to make me feel better. I then proceeded to carry it home three-quarters of a mile. (Bet you didn't know that thrifting could be such a great arm workout.)

That's the angle that sold me on it. But it's not without its problem areas...

Part of the decorative molding was ripped off one side, which I hadn't noticed at the store. Perhaps I was too quick to pull the trigger? Oh, irony.

The top, I knew, sported the most damage. I'm not concerned about the middle portion, since that will be covered by the stereo and record player. But I'll have to try out a few things for the edges. So far, rubbing coffee grounds into the scuffs and scratches has not worked, and something tells me that the other at-home remedies I've seen won't make a difference either. Maybe a scratch correcting marker from the hardware store?

Or maybe I'll paint it. As much as I enjoy the little inlaid jazziness going on at the top, I'm tempted to cover the whole thing in a fresh coat of...deep navy? With faux brass end caps on the legs and the metalwork coated in brassy paint? Who knows. Weigh in with your thoughts, please.

For now, I've opted to just live with it, as is, and hold off on any paint-related solutions until it gets warmer out and I can once again use the balcony for my more fume-y projects. 

The cord situation kind of kills me, but it's not like it was much better before. Maybe I'll try wrapping that bundle in black electrical tape, just to wrangle and camouflage it a bit better.

Now. About that spray paint...