The difference between thrift stores and consignment shops

Consignment and antique shops are great, but they tend to be pricier because their collections are curated. These stores do all the hunting down and fixing up for you, and that service is offset via higher price tags. While consignment shops are more likely to have highly sought after antiques from pedigreed brands, you can still certainly find hidden gems at nearly any thrift store — you just may have to put in more effort to find what you’re looking for. Balance the odds of what you want being there with the price range you’re willing to pay when deciding where to shop.


Getting what you need while giving back to the community

Many of your favorite causes run thrift shops to help fund their programs and services. Prime Thrift near Fair Park benefits American Veterans (AMVETS), Disabled American Veterans (DAV) and other local and national charitable organizations, while Out of the Closet in Oak Lawn benefits the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. Genesis Women’s Shelter, a nonprofit that provides safety, shelter and support for women and children who have experienced domestic violence, operates two thrift stores: one in Oak Lawn and another in South Oak Cliff. There are four Soul’s Harbor locations throughout the metroplex, with proceeds going toward its programs to help men break the cycle of homelessness and addiction. Some of these shops even have exclusive relationships with estate liquidators, increasing your chances of finding treasures among their wares.

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If you’re looking for a bit more than just decor, check out your local ReStore, which benefits Habitat for Humanity. There, you can find actual building materials, such as tile, cabinets, wood flooring, windows, doors or even vintage brick. In addition to these, they also have plenty of new and vintage home furnishings, large appliances and more. With 10 locations across D-FW, it’s a convenient alternative to big-box stores when shopping for your next home design project.

Choose your shopping days wisely

For donation-based thrift stores, Mondays and Tuesdays are typically the best days to shop, because most people tend to drop off items early in the week after spending the weekend cleaning. Signing up for emails is a great way to stay on top of the latest finds and deals, but there’s just no substitute for going in regularly. It works the same with searching online, whether it’s eBay, Craigslist, or Facebook Marketplace. “I’m a huge fan of Facebook Marketplace” says Whitney Marsh, an interior designer and business owner who furnished her Oak Cliff coffee shop, B-Side, with thrifted finds. “I also really love Souls Harbor in Waxahachie,” Marsh notes.

Whitney Marsh, an interior designer and business owner, furnished her Oak Cliff coffee shop B-Side with thrifted finds, including this handmade tile she found for less than $100.(Whitney Marsh)

Have a strategy before you start shopping

There are two ways to go about hunting vintage pieces. Either have a piece or project in mind and know what you want to pay for it, or be able to spot a good deal. This can involve researching brands, pieces, and eras to be able to find your ideal mix of quality pieces that aren’t in demand. Marsh says that’s her strategy. “I know what I like, and I also know what brands are known for quality goods,” she explains. “I definitely have a style. I’m drawn toward leather furniture, solid wood, wool rugs and unique art.”

Marsh created this seating area using chairs thrifted from Soul’s Harbor and a unique brass ship she found through Facebook marketplace.(Whitney Marsh)

For example, you may love midcentury modern (MCM) pieces, but the popularity of decor from that era means there’s more demand, and unscrupulous sellers may assign that label to random items in order to get them to sell. You may find more success by researching some favorite brands or designers from the MCM era and looking for those specifically to avoid fake listings and inflated prices. Be aware that people will list items online with a famous brand name keyword to get more hits, such as saying a “Pottery Barn-style” rug or “MCM-style lamp.” If you’re shopping in person, don’t be afraid to ask the store’s staff about an item you’re looking for; they may have something similar that just hasn’t been put out yet. Or, they might be willing to take down your name and keep an eye out for items on your list — especially if you’re a regular customer.

Simple design rules to consider

In this area Marsh designed for a client, she paired a thrifted console with a modern lamp and abstract art to create balance.(Whitney Marsh)

Once you’ve found that unique piece you’ve been searching for, how do you style it? Thrifted pieces bring character into a space, but it is possible to have too much of a good thing, says Marsh. “I like to pair thrifted pieces with more high-end textiles. I love an old leather sofa that’s worn in against a very bold luxury wallpaper.” If you buy a well-worn piece and want to play up that lived-in aesthetic, try to surround it with items that are clean and modern. Too much rusticity can end up looking like neglect. Same goes for smaller items, such as pots, frames or books — space them out in designed vignettes throughout your home instead of clustering them all together. Also, keep in mind that pairing thrifted furniture is easier when they share some similar elements. For example, mismatched nightstands look more cohesive if they are roughly the same size and color.

Thrifting can be a way to save big, depending on when and where you shop, and what you’re looking for. “I definitely shop with a specific corner or space in mind. I also really only pull the trigger on things that seem like they’re good quality and the right price,” says Marsh. But if you’re patient, persistent and know what you want and what you’re willing to pay for it, it’s just a matter of time before you find it.

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Apache is functioning normally

As thousands of Chicago-area families go house-hunting this spring, the dream of homeownership continues to drift further and further away.

21-Apr-24 – Average long-term mortgage rates inched above 7 percent nationwide for the first time this year, reported Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey on April 18.

Benchmark 30-year fixed-rate home loan rates hit 7.10 percent, up from 6.88 percent a week earlier. That’s its highest level since October 26, 2023, when 30-year fixed loans hit 7.79 percent. A year ago, 30-year fixed mortgage rates averaged a more affordable 6.39 percent.

“The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage surpassed 7 percent for the first time this year,” said Sam Khater (left), Freddie Mac’s Chief Economist. “As rates trend higher, potential home buyers are deciding whether to buy before rates rise even more or hold off in hopes of decreases later in the year.”

Interest charges on 15-year fixed loans on April 18 averaged 6.39 percent, up from 6.16 percent a week earlier. A year ago, 15-year fixed mortgages averaged 5.76 percent.

Khater noted that home purchase applications rose modestly the week before, but “it remains unclear how many home buyers can withstand increasing rates in the future.”

The Freddie Mac survey is focused on conventional, conforming, fully amortizing home purchase loans for borrowers who place a down payment of 20 percent and have an excellent credit score of 740 or higher.

The truth is home buyers in Chicago and across the nation really are starting to get rate-shy. Sales of existing homes in the United States fell 4.3 percent in March to a seasonally adjusted 4.19 million, reported the National Association of Realtors (NAR). That’s the first monthly decline in sales since December 2023, and follows a nearly 10 percent monthly sales jump nationwide in February.

“Home sales essentially remain stuck because mortgage rates have been stable and inventory is not really rising,” said Laurence Yun (right), NAR’s Chief Economist.

Unfortunately, Yun predicted that mortgage rates are likely to rise above 7 percent in the coming weeks. Early in 2024, Yun had predicted that 30-year fixed loan rates would average 6.3 percent by the fourth quarter of this year.

The interest rate rise is a direct result of the Federal Reserve’s aggressive interest rate hikes intended to tame soaring inflation numbers not seen in 40 years.

The Fed has raised its key benchmark lending rate to a range of 5.25 to 5.50 percent, the highest level since 2007. Based on moves by the Fed, mortgage analysts say 30-year fixed home loans could reach – or surpass – the 8 percent level in the near future. Home loan rates have not hit the lofty 8 percent level since August 11, 2000, more than 23 years ago.

Searching for a better deal, some borrowers are beginning to flock to riskier adjustable-rate mortgages (ARM), lenders say.

“This week we have issued 30-year loan commitments with rates as high as 7.5 percent, depending on down payments and borrower credit scores,” said Jeremy Rose (left), Chicago-based loan consultant for Loan Depot, one of the largest lenders in the nation. “Mortgage interest rates may have gradually declined over the past two decades, but home prices have tripled.”

Today, the buyer of a $400,000 home with a credit score of 740, who places a 25 percent down payment and takes out a $300,000 mortgage for 30 years at Loan Depot, would pay a rate of 7.5 percent. If the buyer is willing to pay a 1 percent discount point, or a loan fee of $3,000, the interest rate would drop to 7.125 percent.

“The most motivated buyers will accept the current level of mortgage rates and make offers when they find a place that’s suitable,” said Holden Lewis (right), a home and mortgage expert at Nerd Wallet. “High mortgage rates aren’t holding buyers back as much as lack of inventory and high prices.”

“If you’re always waiting for the perfect market conditions to arise, you could end up missing out on a lot of great opportunities,” warned Jacob Channel, Senior Economist at Lending Tree.

Mortgage rate history

Thirty-year fixed-mortgage interest rates ended 2020 at a rock-bottom 2.65 percent – the lowest level in the Freddie Mac survey history, which began in 1971.

Home loan rates set new record lows an amazing 16 times in 2020, and tens of thousands of homeowners refinanced.

Archives of the now-defunct Federal Housing Finance Board show long-term mortgage rates in the 1960s were not much higher than the Great Depression, when lenders were charging 5 percent on five-year balloon loans.

Nearly six decades ago, between 1963 and 1965, you could get a mortgage at 5.81 to 5.94 percent. Between 1971 and 1977, the now-defunct Illinois Usury Law held rates in the 7.6-to-9 percent range.

In the early 1980s, runaway inflation caused home loan rates to skyrocket into the stratosphere. According to Freddie Mac, benchmark 30-year mortgage rates peaked at a jaw-dropping 18.45 percent in October 1981 during that Great Recession.

Rates finally fell below 10 percent in April 1986, and then bounced in the 9-to-10 percent range during the balance of the 1980s. Twenty-three years ago, in August 2000, when some of today’s Millennial borrowers were still in diapers, lenders were quoting 8.04 percent.

(Left) October 1981 issue of Inc. magazine

Between 2002 and 2011, rates bounced in the 4-to-6 percent range. They inched into the 3-to-4 percent range until 2020, when they fell into the rock-bottom 2 percent bracket.

Good luck, loan hunters!