Revamp your abode with Downtown thrifty finds

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June 20, 2005 // UPDATED 1:55 pm - April 26, 2007
By: Dani Litt
Dani Litt

A sharp eye and a little elbow grease can replace money spent

Redecorating can be a very expensive project, but with some digging and an open mind, a room can look good if you substitute time for money on older, used home accents.

Many business owners insist that knowing what to supply as shop owners and the value of what's for sale is also important. In addition, they say not to overlook the potential of older items that need a little elbow grease and TLC.

JoAnne Ryan, a North Minneapolis resident, said she shops often at the Downtown Salvation Army Family Thrift Store, 900 N. 4th St., for pieces because she likes to change the rooms in her home often. "I can find eclectic pieces at a bargain and can afford to change often," she said. "I wouldn't know where to look and find these pieces new."

There are a variety of thrift stores and secondhand shops to make redecorating fun and easy on a budget. Knowing where to shop for thrifty or used home dcor items is also key.

Antique hunters need to look no further than North Loop's City Salvage, 505 1st Ave. N., which is a virtual treasure trove of aged home dcor. From screens to mantles, light fixtures to cabinets, City Salvage is packed with home improvement items.

When price is an object, it's important to look at the quality of what's being purchased. While unconventional items such as old doors and paned windows can be found at City Salvage, it is important to remember it is an antique store.

Owner John Eckley said the markup for most of his products is about three times the value in order to be able to pay back what he originally bought it for. However, he pointed out that to reproduce an antique screen divider, for example, could cost up to three times what he sells it for. "It can't be built cheaper than you can buy it for," he said of used finds.

Ryan, the Salvation Army shopper, is a fan of home decorating TV shows and gets many of her ideas from them. She said she often looks for pieces to refinish or things that can be made out of other pieces at the Salvation Army.

Putting a new finish on something can be complicated, and Ryan said it is better to practice on something inexpensive in case it doesn't work out as planned. For example, the Salvation Army had couches beginning at $65 and chairs beginning at $5. Many needed to be recovered, but having a low base price will still make the finished product well below market price.

City Salvage refinishes most of the pieces before putting them on the floor to be sold, Eckley said. But if a customer wants it remodeled or needs to find someone to install it, Eckley will find someone to do it for a price.

Redecorating can be a scary feat, but do-it-yourselfers like Ryan find that straying from brand names and chain retail stores, and taking the time to search, can be well worth the effort.

For more, see: City Salvage:, Salvation Army Family Thrift Store, (link will take you to the right Salvation Army Web page).