As anyone who has been in the US in the last few years you know every highway exit features a Dollar Store and a second-hand retail outlet for Goodwill, or similar organization. As more vacant malls fall in on themselves, thrifting has become big business on Ebay, Etsy and dozens of YouTube channels.
If you want to thrift here in central Mexico you certainly can but there are some distinct differences. Remember the old adage – Products are abundant, decent and cheap up North while services are costly. Here products are costly and often poor quality, while services are cheap and superior. This is why folks will bring their appliances down with them while simultaneously having all their wood furniture made here.
This logic extends to thrifting (or antiquing if you prefer a more gentile term). Here we simply do not have the plethora of products you’ll find up North – not to say you can’t have fun and find some gems!
If old furniture excites you there are plenty of options on Hidalgo and the antique store in the Fabrica. However, some pieces are huge! Personally, I’ve bought many a wood table from the store by the corner of Relox and La Luz.
If it is clothing that you adore, there are house sales every weekend by the adventurous teen selling off some no longer needed fashion in exchange for quick cash. The mammoth Tuesday market, and its smaller Sunday edition, also features loads of fashion alongside daily living needs like food, hardware and pets.
Consignment stores do well here. There is Los Suenos with shops on La Ancha and Hernandez Marcias featuring women’s fashion, jewelry and furniture.
Caveat – Say you are from Houston and the Breast Cancer resale shop does that pricing. So, for example, the Waterford crystal or Limoges china you’ve been considering started at $100, by month two it is $50 and month three it is $10. That’s because the resale shop’s goal is to covert donations to cash ASAP. La Finca’s discounts are comparatively minimal. That said, I had my childhood pal, Natalie, a designer from Los Angeles land 3 light fixtures for under $150 each at La Finca in fifteen minutes. I think they were the least costly items in the store.
My personal favorite consignment store is Sylvia’s (think Fran Fine’s mother) out in Atotonilco. Her barn is full of interesting pieces where I bought, for about one thousand dollars, a 1930’s art deco tiger wood buffet. Sylvia and her son will deliver your purchases within days.
A recent joiner to thrifting fun is an organization called ProNinos a few blocks over from the public hospital. Worth the trip as, for some unknown reason, they seem to get donations of the best quality often featuring Irish porcelain, Depression glass or Baccarat crystal. The prices are way more than the same items are in a Texas resale store, but they are rarely found here.
The fire station rents space one Sunday a month so their inventory is constantly changing as do the sellers. I may find exquisite marble figurative sculptures one weekend then only baseball cards and tortas the next.
Estate sales can be fun and equally unpredictable though normally a great place to get wood furniture on the last day of the sale at half price. Shannon has a well-run and polite group whose web site you can check (shansales.com) as does Evan at estatesalesofsanmiguel.com. The latter is where I lucked out finding some fun depression era art deco glass I was able to load with cookies for holiday host gifts.
Other thrifty pals swear by FaceBook marketplace for the best deals here.
I’ve had terrific luck on the underground market. At times a foreigner will unload their home here when their spouse has passed. Instead of hosting a pesky estate sell they simply give a staff member the kit and caboodle of the home’s contents. He/she/Hershey will then resell it themselves. Recently I bought three new-ish couches for under a thousand dollars and more linens then I can use in my remaining time on this plane!
I wouldn’t even consider trying to resell on Ebay your thrift finds here. Shipping is too flakey and you wouldn’t be the first to realize the likelihood of your products getting to the States unharmed is minimal.
Frankly, I never thrifted for resale but rather for my own use or gifts so I join the many locals that stealthily shop each weekend. Pictured here are all thrifted items including the painting featured on the best-selling Amazon book on San Miguel de Allende.
So, if looking to furnish your new place, or find some interesting gifts, a half price Sunday morning sale is your best pal!