Cameron Renfrow shares his advice for finding the perfect pieces to accent your home
By Cameron Renfrow | Photography by John Michael Simpson
There’s no better feeling than when a guest comes into my home and picks up a one-of-a-kind vintage treasure on their way through the halls and questions where I’ve found such a piece. Actually, the feeling improves when I tell them that it came from a local thrift store and for only a few bucks. A large portion of my home, if not most of it, is layered with sourced goods I’ve found over the years; many came from Once & Again Consignment Gallery, Pennies for Change Thrift Boutique and TROSA Thrift Store, all three of which were named some of Durham Magazine’s readers’ favorite stores for thrift/consignment and/or home furnishings and accessories. I’m a prop stylist who is always on the hunt for unique items that add character to a shoot or space, which keeps me in these shops on a routine basis. I consider myself something of a pro-thrifter, and you can be one, too, with these few tips:
- TROSA has one of the largest selections I’ve ever seen. Their inventory changes daily, making it my home away from home. All the pros start their Wednesdays here at noon, when TROSA opens back up after restocking from the week before. Saturdays are extremely busy – you will be waiting in a long line – so I advise coming during the week.
- You can expect an abundance of clothing, furniture, decor, art, books, lighting and much more. The best time to go is during a parking lot sale. You have to be in the mindset to dig through bins, but it’s worth it, I promise!
- Their peer-driven, multiyear residential program provides free meals, clothing, housing and much more for recovering individuals. The thrift store closes periodically to celebrate program graduates, so follow their socials to stay updated. You’ll also be able to see when there’s a storewide sale!
- I’ve gotten a lot from TROSA in the past years, but my most recent find was this mid-century swivel chair in my living room for $10! I bought it to recover one day, but it’s convincing me otherwise. It’s so comfortable and perfect for drinking coffee out of my Pennies’ pottery mug, also pictured.
- Though small in size, Pennies for Change leaves a large impact on the community. It offers women’s clothing, shoes, jewelry, furniture, textiles, art and more at a very affordable price. Pennies is a program of the Durham Crisis Response Center, which provides support services to survivors of domestic, sexual and family violence and human trafficking in Durham – so you’re shopping for a good cause!
- I tend to stroll through midday Wednesday through Friday. The staff are always setting out new items, so keeping this place on your radar is a must! Pro tip: Attend one of its themed and curated sales
- The beautiful window display always catches my eye when driving by and piques my interest to stop in occasionally. I tend to look out for vintage art and pottery here – some of the best pottery and kitchenware I own came from Pennies.
- The best time to visit is Friday and Saturday mornings. Nothing beats getting up early and scoring a secondhand find to start the weekend strong. Once & Again is a great place to start your hunt because of its close proximity to other stores on the Durham-Chapel Hill Boulevard stretch (like Pennies!).
- What I love about consignment shopping in particular is that stores regularly discount items based on how long it has been on the floor. Make sure to set calendar reminders so you don’t miss out on that perfect piece.
- This shop has a nice mix of new, vintage and higher-end furniture, rugs, art, decor, clothing and jewelry. Even if you wander in without a need, you most definitely will find something you want. For me, it was an antique chest of drawers that now lives in my guest bedroom.
Now that you know the ins and outs of these top-rated thrift stores, I hope to see you there! Keep in mind that shopping secondhand takes time; don’t give up if you can’t find anything the first few tries. I call it “hunting,” because you never know when or what you’re going to find.