With a discerning eye, a dash of patience and decades of experience, I am a hunter, obsessed with finding the best bargains.
Nearly all of my clothing, home furnishings and furniture were purchased second hand. I smile slyly when complimented about my outfits or my home.
Here I share three of my favorite Largo area hunting grounds.
Across the Pond
14951 Indian Rocks Road
Shoes and purses. Need I say more?
This consignment store has longevity. As owner Marilyn Hartwig says, "businesses don't stay for 25 years unless they're doing something right."
What Across the Pond does right is offer moderate to high end women's apparel in sizes 2 to 3X at affordable prices.
The store's inventory is well organized in six rooms. Items are inspected three times before hitting the racks. Expect to find everything from evening wear to summer casual. I found new Naturalizer shoes for $7 and a Coach purse for $89. I resisted the purse, despite a 20 percent off sale, but how could I resist the silk blouse in my favorite shade of royal blue?
RCS Thrift Store
2960 East Bay Drive
This is a well run thrift store selling donated items. It has clothing for all ages as well as furniture and housewares.
I am drawn to the large selection of quality men's clothing -— not often available in secondhand shops. I find a Land's End polo shirt for $4.50 and a pair of Tommy Hilfiger khaki pants for $5.50.
The store's proceeds help fund the charitable works of Religious Community Services. This partnership of more than 80 congregations crosses many faiths and finances a homeless shelter, a domestic violence shelter, a transitional living program and a food bank.
"It's a win-win," said store director Linda Sofarelli. "Shoppers get wonderfully good deals and they know they are helping a good cause."
Indian Rocks Thrift Center
12875 Ulmerton Road
This large store has clothing for the family, toys, bicycles, baby items and small appliances.
It's the furniture that draws me. I purchased a dining set to match my beach decor for $125 and a uniquely crafted lighthouse lamp for $5. My husband found a bargain, too. The desk he nearly bought at an office supply store for $140 was at the Thrift Center for $20.
Entertainment centers, dressers, nightstands, living room sets — all can be found here. Store proceeds support the missionaries of the First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks.
While saving money is always my objective, my deeper thrill store manager Sharon Oliphant understands.
"It's about the hunt, getting excited about looking for something and finding it."