tips on finding the “rare finds”

Marian ParsonsFavorite Finds, Shopping Tips, Tips and Tricks35 Comments

We’re been spending a few days at Myrtle Beach and it’s been such a fun time.  My boys are really taking to the water, sand and surf.  They want to spend every minute at the beach or the pool.  It’s been a delight watching the discovery and excitement.


I really enjoy the beach, but only aspects of it.  I’ve never liked salt water and sand.  From the time I was little, I preferred sitting in a 5 gallon bucket filled with hose water over swimming in the ocean.  Seriously.  The entire ocean was yards away and I would sit in a bucket (with my night-night blanket, sucking my thumb.)

I do love the sound of the waves, walking in the surf and combing the beach for treasures, though.

The pickings are pretty slim at Myrtle Beach, at least where we are.  It’s a popular beach and it has a pretty rough surf, so most shells get pummeled beyond recognition by the time they reach the beach and the shells that do make it are heavily picked over.

My mom and I did find a few goodies, though…

Some olive shells, which were always my Oma’s favorite, and shark’s teeth.

As we were scanning the sand for worth-while shells, I started to think about the thrill of the hunt and the joy of finding a treasure.  It’s the same thing that I love about yard sales, antiques stores, auctions and Craig’s List.

 I thought, “Oh, I should write a post about that.”

As I was thinking through the post, my sons kept bringing chunks of broken shells and random bits, including a water bottle cap.  I didn’t want to hurt their feelings and tell them these shells are basically beach trash (and the cap is trash), so I told them something interesting about each piece and we added them to the bucket.  My mom and I would just laugh.


That got me thinking even more about how my shell-hunting experience is like antique/bargain-hunting.

I think when a lot of us are novice antique shoppers, we’re like my boys looking for shells.  When I look back at some of the things I bought and was excited about, I just laugh.  I lit up at any bargain, any blue and white whatever, anything old at a yard sale.  I was “picking up shell fragments off the beach.”

As I’ve grown in experience, my eye has become more discerning and I’m only looking for the rare finds – the special pieces that others haven’t discovered or seen the potential in, yet.  Sometimes it takes a while and I have to dig, but the rare finds are there.

When we were out walking on the beach last night, we ran into another beach-comber.  He asked, “Have you found anything good?”

“A few things…some olive shells, shark’s teeth…”

“Well, I’ve been looking for four days and I haven’t seen one thing!”

How can two people, looking for treasures on the same beach, have different results?

It’s just like two people shopping Craig’s List in the same area or walking through an antique store.  There are some things that are true of people who find good stuff.

Miss Mustard Seed-263

They are patient.  

I looked for a wardrobe/armoire for my room for years before I found one that was the right price and exactly what I wanted.  Sometimes you can trip across something right away, but, in my experience, it usually takes some time.


They are persistent.

I’m always asked how I find great stuff on Craig’s List.  It’s because I look at Craig’s List a lot!   I do have specific searches I run, but usually I just go through the furniture and antiques sections page by page.  I just picked up this beautiful antique marble-topped dresser for $50.

They are picky.  

I love ironstone and I’ll buy almost any piece to sell, but if I’m buying for myself, I look for certain shapes and pieces.  I look for ones with just the right age and patina.  I don’t buy things for myself unless I love them and they “speak” to me.  That’s a huge shift from the day when I felt obligated to buy things that were a good bargain, whether I loved them or not!


Lastly, this doesn’t start with a P, but…

They know what they are looking for.

The gentleman on the beach probably didn’t find shark’s teeth, because he didn’t even know they would be washed up on shore or what they looked like.  I knew, because someone earlier in the day showed us ones they were finding.  It helps to be somewhat educated in the things that you’re looking for, so you know it when you see it!

So, what kind of a treasure-hunter are you?  Are you picking up hunks of broken shells or are you coming home with a small handful of shark’s teeth?


The winners of the Parsons West brushes are…

Caroline S (clshoenthal), Janae Stickling, TinaLou, Diane Westbrook, Susanne (robsuehefner), Becky m (menziersr), Debbie w (Dmw212), Lisa (lisacestkowski), Jamee L Potts, Hannah Rose (hannahrose1982).




Goodnight from the beach…


tips on finding the “rare finds”

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35 Comments on “tips on finding the “rare finds””

  1. I started out buying everything and anything that I could afford- and now that I can afford to buy almost anything I want- I find I am full up with treasures and need to make room! But I have a hard time letting go of all my treasures because they all come with a story..So I am checkmated 🙂

  2. It doesn’t come into the house unless there is a place…the price is right….and we love it.

    We just got back from OBX and had the best time combing the beaches of Pea Island for shells (that’s the place for shells) but I had my heart set on sea glass. It is getting harder and harder to find but the very last day….the very last visit to the beach….I found a wee piece of green glass…..and my husband found a small bottle!!

    I have to admit being a bit like your boys cause I love the pieces of shell like the one on the far right…molded and mottled by the sea.

  3. Most of the shells I have collected have came from the shell shops at Gulf Shores, as they are practically non existant around these beach parts. Oh, and be careful, there have been some shark attacks in the Carolinas. Happy Shelling!!

  4. Take your boys to Venice, FL or Manasota Key beaches on the Gulf side. Famous for sharks teeth, Venice is known as Shark’s Tooth Capital of the World! (they even have a festival) We spent 12 days beach combing there early this spring and brought home over 3300 sharks teeth! So fun! The thrill of the hunt. They would love it, they are everywhere!

  5. Our family just came back from a Florida beach vacation. It is always good to take time from work and everyday stuff to enjoy good old fashioned family time. I am happy you are enjoying your much deserved vacation!

  6. I started out buying everything and anything that I could afford- now that I can afford to buy almost anything that I want- I find I am full up with treasures and need to make room! But I have a hard time letting go of all my treasures because they all come with a story..Basically, I am checkmated..

  7. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. I guess it depends on what is important to you personally…everyone has their own tastes. Glad you had a good family time it’s so important!

  8. Put the hunks of broken shell in a clear jar. They look great that way and it is a GREAT memory for your kids through the years. It is also a GREAT laugh when they get old enough to understand what they found wasn’t such a treasure after all.
    Glad to see you are spending some time relaxing with your family! It sounds like a fun place to be.

    1. The “treasures” are the memories of being together. They’ll be reminded of those when they look at their shell fragments.

  9. I think when it comes to making great finds its all in being at the right place at the right time and knowing where to look. Don’t have the misconception that you can only find great vintage or antique pieces at antique stores or malls only.

    My best find by far this summer was a large Ironstone milk pitcher in good condition marked “Burgess & Goodard” for $7.00 that I picked up at a consignment shop. I grabbed that bad boy up quickly and held tight as I headed for the checkout register.

    I know you have great success on Craigslist but I would suggest to others also going to local Goodwill and consignment stores and attending Estate sales. Many times its a bust (or broken shells-ha) but from time to time you will find great vintage and antique pieces. My mother just picked up a vintage tin toy for me from the early 40’s at our local Goodwill. I assume it was a toy made for children at Easter as its a rooster pulling a egg cart. Super cute and she found it for $4.00. I looked on Ebay and found the same vintage toy going for $100.00!

    I too have become more “selective and picky” as I have gotten older. I really have to love a piece or know I have a place to use it before I buy something. I do love the thrill of the hunt as you never know what you will find. Have a great time in Myrtle Beach and Happy Hunting!

  10. I really seem to like a little bit of everything, and I’m ok with that. Anything that speaks to me is fair game. I do try not to go overboard – I do want to have a place or a plan for things, and it’s great when things are a good price, but if I’m in love all bets are off. My favorite finds, though, are like the $7 estate sale buffet or the free side-of-the-road wardrobe. Of course those are few and far between, so when I get that lucky, it is extra special!

  11. I was at the beach in Wildwood this year. We discovered a really great thrift store a few years ago and every year, we pick a rainy day and go to the thrift store. It has become a tradition and the kids look forward to it. This year we went and I saw a great tureen. I walked away and found something else and forgot to go back. The next day I kept thinking about it and ended up driving back to the thrift store. It was gone. Lesson learned. When you see a piece that makes your heart go pitter patter, get it. That is your treasure.

  12. When I started hunting furniture I would pick up anything free on the side of the road I’m much pickier now. I’m learning what types of pieces sell for a higher price. I recognize which repairs are easy fixes and which are beyond me. I rarely pick up a piece that’s not sold wood and if it’s not it has to be a great resalable shape. It’s nice to be able to recognize the treasurers!

  13. Headed to my beach house next week then again on Labor day for 2 weeks~ I can hardly stand it I’m so excited. While I’m there……. I always get to go looking for garage sales, antique stores and beach finds since it’s near Savannah. I’m getting excited just thinking about all the treasures I’ll find~

  14. Oooh! That marble topped dresser is a beauty!!!

    North Myrtle Beach (Cherry Grove) is our vacation spot of choice. We started finding sharks teeth 2 years ago and now that we know what we’re looking for they’re pretty easy to spot. We came home with about 12 this year including one about an inch long. So fun! I want to glue them onto a canvas to hang up and enjoy…specimen style…..but hubby isn’t quite on board yet with taking glue to them. I can’t really think of any other way.

    1. Jessica:
      Paint a canvas using acrylics in beach colors of blues, greens and sand colors. Then wire the sharks teeth to the canvas. A sewing needle will poke holes through the canvas, two or more per tooth & using a 24 or 26 gauge copper wire you can wrap the teeth to the canvas. (Google wire wrapped cabochons for a free tutorial). Hang it up and it would become a visual reminder of your beach trip!

  15. Oh dear. I have that same marble topped dresser and haven’t been appreciating it. 🙂 Do you plan to paint it or leave as is? Thanks.

  16. I, too, used to buy things just because they were cheap & antique-y. Now I’ve learned to buy only what I truly love and have a home for. I am really enjoying the variety in your posts lately. It’s like visiting with an old friend. Enjoy your vacation!!

  17. I live in the Midwest and my “ocean” is Lake Superior. There, I comb the beaches for unique rocks worn smooth by the pounding waves. When I travel, I never get the souvenir t-shirt or coffee mug or shot glass. I go outside and find a rock from wherever I am. When I get home, I label them underneath with a little piece of masking tape. I never get tired of looking at my rock collection and reminiscing about the place it came from. Best of all, they’re free!

    1. Penny,
      My son used to collect rocks, when someone we new went on a trip we asked them to bring him a stone. One co-worker brought back a piece from the White Cliffs of Dover and a photo. He was so excited. thanks for bringing back that memory.

  18. I can’t believe a brush is coming my way!!! I can’t wait to get started on the little (soon-to-be-gone-primary-red) table for my kids (between naps and feedings). The busy little years! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!

  19. Really great tips on antiquing! As the years go by, I am learning the right skills–patience, persistence, picky–to find the “right” pieces. I really liked your evolution series, it was one of the most encouraging things to see that you made a lot of changes and tried a bunch of things over the years.

  20. I have loved shopping all of my life but in the last few years all of the shopping I do is in thrift stores, garage sales, estate sales, etc. I love the thrill of the hunt and finding the treasure. Last week I found an Ironstone gravy separator/boat and I thought of you. I paid $1.00.

    Arlene, I live in Venice, Florida about 2 blocks from the beach. My grandchildren always find sharks teeth and beach glass.

  21. I’ve had some success and fun with EBTH, Everything But the House, an online auction featuring estate sales locally and nationally. Today I picked up an antique wicker bassinet on a separate rolling cart for $30. It will make a great plant stand. Some items are very reasonable, others get bids beyond my price point. Always fun to shop in the comfort of my own home!

  22. I’m learning that with decorating, patience is definitely a virtue. Do not settle. Good things come to those who wait – as it did for me and my kitchen nook table!!!

    Seng, lifestyle & home decor blogger

  23. Hope you & your family enjoyed Myrtle Beach!! I live just a few blocks from the ocean in MB! My favorite place to be is sitting on the beach with a good book! Love your blog!!

  24. I have a new friend who I’ve introduced your blog to (and a few other of my favorites). Her ‘inner decorator’ has emerged and her style has done a 180. It’s been fun to watch because her home is on its way from ordinary to unique. BUT she is breaking your ‘people who find good stuff ‘ tips left and right. She buys almost everything… and looks perplexed when I don’t. She just had a huge yard sale because she was accumulating too much in her garage. I just smile and am waiting for her to figure it out. 🙂

  25. This post resignates so much with me! I am still fairly youn so I have a lot of hand-me downs from friends and family (things that I’ve made over) as well as a small amount of fabulous things my hubby and I have saved for over time. either way I have so much stuff in a small space that I try to be extremely picky when buying new things! I already have a trove of things I don’t love and want to replace one day… So everything that comes in my house needs to serve a purpose or be something I absolutely love… My mom hasn’t figured this out yet and still buys me “junk” (like a horrible red, yellow and green thrift store chair) It was a sweet gesture but now I have one more thing taking up valuable space that I have to re-do! I only want the shark’s teeth… Not the sand!

  26. I love this piece of reflection. I live in Myrtle Beach so I especially enjoyed the reference to my precious beach. The analogy of she’ll hunting to finding special treasures for the shop or home is spot on. I have a dear friend who will only pick up perfect shells. I will pick up a shell fragment with a gorgeous color and add it to my collection. Our living spaces reflect that. Mine is very eclectic and more colorful, while hers is cool and calm and carefully decorated. Both are wonderful but I realize now how much our personalities reflect our choices. Thank you for sharing your world with us.

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