Thrift shop offers hidden treasures for bargain hunters

Interior designer Beth Hoffman observes a picture frame in the home decor room at Ticktocker Thrift Shop in Costa Mesa.
(Kevin Chang / Weekend)

Resale or retail?

Can the difference be noticed?

Corona del Mar designer Beth Hoffman has found that salvaged materials can become stylish home decor at lower prices.

Hoffman, who used to represent furniture lines in New York City and sell pieces to architects, combs thrift shops and secondhand furniture stores, where she finds it much more challenging — and far more interesting — to bargain hunt.


She finds shopping locally, and digging through resale stores offers the most practical and affordable way to style a home.

“There are some real finds,” Hoffman said. “Some things look so ordinary, but putting your own spin on it makes it personal.”

Often it becomes a matter of fixing it up. Hoffman may suggest stripping the paint or simply reupholstering and refinishing.

Looking for specific items requires her to keep her eyes open for some unexpected treasure that might work in her home — or that could be useful for others.


A favorite is Ticktocker Thrift Shop in Costa Mesa, owned and operated by National Charity League, a mother-daughter membership organization where daughters participate in a six-year program of philanthropic work.

Ticktocker Thrift Shop, off 19th Street, was establish7ed in Costa Mesa in 1959, and all sale proceeds support the nonprofit’s 25 Orange County charities.

The shop’s items, including home decor, men, women and children’s clothing, may only be donated by members and are usually priced below $30.

“It’s local, and we know where things come from,” said Diane Govaars, Ticktocker Thrift Shop co-chairwoman. “It’s like getting things from your friends.”

“Everything is edited,” added Sandy Rettig, Ticktocker Thrift Shop co-chair. “It has to be in good condition.”

There, amid shelves and used furniture that filled the rear of the shop, Hoffman pointed out a Missoni chair valued at $2,000. She suggested it be cleaned or reupholstered.

Baskets or jugs can be turned into lamps, she said, noting that a piece could be wired at a lamp store costing less than $100.

Candlesticks can be spray-painted in white, black high gloss, metallics or funky colors.


Outdoor cooking pots could suffice as succulent containers, and canvases in framed paintings can be taken out and replaced with mirrors or corkboards.

Hoffman suggested that customers take advantage of all merchandise in the store.

The $1 books stacked in the thrift shop’s reading section can be covered in starched white linens and wrapped in twine for a crisp look.

Plaid fabric on a man’s shirt can be used for a decorative winter pillow. Materials like silk, linen and wool can all be found in the clothing department and be transformed into headboard backgrounds or into a patch worked chair.

Since the shop receives donations every day, Hoffman noted that customers should visit often.

Resale has become destination shopping, with the increasing awareness of the importance of reducing waste.

Value-conscious customers prefer to shop resale, saving money on apparel, furniture and other consumer goods, so savings can be applied toward vacations and funding college and retirement accounts, said America’s Research Group, a consumer research firm.

The used merchandise stores industry in the U.S. includes about 20,000 stores with combined annual revenue of about $16 billion, according to a 2015 industry profile by market analysis company First Research.


Ticktocker sales were up 34% for the three months of the summer season over last year.

The blossoming market is reflected on the awareness of progressing from a disposable to a recycling society, causing a change in the resale marketplace.

“It’s not just about budget, it’s about making it cool with character,” Hoffman said. “If you fill in a space with these fun additions, it will bring originality. They’re treasures, for sure.”