Lara Spencer's Best Thrifting Tips

The antiquing expert and Everything But the House host spills all her best thrifting tips — and, of course, they're good.

May 12, 2022

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We know Lara Spencer loves thrifting. We watched the Good Morning America host mentor HGTV's Flea Market Flip contestants as they ravaged for flip-worthy, hidden jewels back in 2012. Now, she’s the host and executive producer of HGTV’s Everything But the House, where she helps homeowners make money off antiques buried in their homes.

Lara’s thrifting expertise goes all the way back — we mean she was cruising flea markets from the comfort of her baby bassinet. “My mom loves the thrill of the hunt, so she’d pack me up in a stroller and take me with her,” says Lara. “Back then, we did it because we didn’t have a lot of money, but it’s still a hobby we can't get enough of.”

Today, Lara visits yard sales, thrift shops and flea markets weekly, chasing the magic feeling that is finding a unique and once-cherished item. Her favorite spots in New York City range from the Salvation Army to Housing Works, and she’s always prepared to get down and dirty with her search. “It’s addicting,” she says. “You never know when you’ll stumble upon a one-of-a-kind treasure."

We sat down with Lara to get her tips on how to be a successful thrift shopper. Of course, she had all the answers.

Map Out the Markets, Yard Sales or Shops You Want to Hit

Having a plan makes all the difference. Back in the day, Lara and her mom would scour newspapers in search of appealing-looking yard sales, then physically map out all their stops before leaving the house. “Now we do it all online,” says Lara, who, when she doesn’t have all day to shop, enjoys the spontaneity of popping into a thrift store spur-of-the-moment if she happens to have 15 minutes to spare.

Make a List of Items You’re Interested In

This will sharpen your search. Once you have a list of items, you’ll know exactly what to look for upon arrival at your chosen yard sale, thrift shop, flea market, etc. But, Lara stresses, you don’t have to stick to your list completely. Her best advice for finding the good stuff: “Keep an open mind.” Lara has a knack for buying home accessories and even furniture without knowing exactly where it’ll go.

Scan the Larger Space Before Honing In on Smaller Items

“It’s all about conditioning your eyes,” says Lara. Oftentimes, people donate in bulk, so chances are if you see one gem, others are near — you just may have to do some digging to find it.

Give It Two Laps

Take your time, but more importantly, “trust your gut,” says Lara. If you’ve done a couple laps and nothing’s sparking your interest, don’t linger. An extra-thorough (but efficient) look-through always does the trick.

Know the Colors and Patterns You Like

For Lara it’s kelly green and pink — not necessarily together. “If I pass a woman's clothing rack and see kelly green, I'll always pull it out,” says Lara. When it comes to home accessories she can’t pass up the color pink. “If you don’t know what you like or what you’re looking for, start with color,” she says.

Don’t Give Up

Why not check your local thrift shop? It’s sustainable, exciting and affordable. If you don’t find anything, check back next month. “Thrift shops and flea markets are ever-changing kaleidoscopes of treasures,” says Lara. “That’s the fun of it. You never know what you're going to get.”

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