Vintage Christmas Clearance Time

One of my favorite parts of the holiday season is the after Christmas clearance sale. Like many thrifty shoppers, every year I head out to the big box stores to snag decorations, wrapping paper and even holiday food (hey, it freezes) at nearly giveaway prices. But other shoppers often don’t realize it’s also the perfect time to hunt for the vintage stuff. The weeks following Christmas are a great time to hit thrift stores because many people clean out their decorations before they put them away—and grandma’s box of Shiny Brites just might be a the top of heap. Antique stores are another good stop to put on your list. Many dealers will have a New Year’s sale and often their Christmas merchandise is still out on display. Flea market vendors will also often give you a deal on out-of-season merchandise just so they don’t have to pack it up. Here are a few of my recent after Christmas specials.

Over the holidays I visited family in Pittsburgh. One of my favorite things to do when visiting any city is to hit up the flea markets and thrift stores for exotic local cast-offs. First up was Rossi’s Pop-Up Marketplace in North Versailles, Pennsylvania. Occupying a former Loews cinema multiplex, the experience is somewhat unusual—navigating narrow aisles up and down the stadium-style floors of the former theaters. But there are deals to be had if you’re ready to dig for them. Here I found a selection of adorable holiday fauna for just 25 cents each.

Ornaments, angels and elves, just 25 cents each!

In a separate theater I found these two elves. The original owner evidently snagged these on clearance back in the day and was so proud of it they put a note with each one that read “I got this for 50 cents at Hills, was originally $1.85. December 28, 1983.” I only paid slightly more than that.

At the Good Samaritan Thrift Store in North Versailles, I managed to find this set of choir girls. Made in Japan probably during the 1960s, these figures stand about six inches tall and feature pressed cloth faces with real feathers for their hair. They are so cute and in excellent condition.

Choir girls, $5

The most fun was just down the hill from Rossi’s at the Goodwill outlet store. If you’re unfamiliar with a Goodwill outlet, merchandise is brought out in large troughs that you dig through to find treasure which is priced by weight. We were lucky to arrive just in time for the changing of the troughs. In the rush of people toward the fresh bins, my brother managed to pull out a duffle bag stuffed with vintage Christmas goods. Imagine my excitement to find a vintage Yuletide Merry Pixie Tree! “Complete with pixies and a sturdy hanger.”

Also in the bag was this lighted angel. Probably from the 1970s, she is lit by amber mini lights that produce a cool patter through the fiber optic halo.

Next up in my thrifter’s tour of the city was Mahla & Co. Antiques in Pittsburgh’s trendy strip district. If you’re ever in Pitt, I recommend stopping in. They offer a cool mix of high end antiques and mid-century design. There’s a little bit of everything. I found this little flocked paper band for $6. I’m not 100% sure these are even Christmas decorations, but they’re still super cute.

My favorite find from Pittsburgh, however, was this little paper winter village. I scored these amazingly cute little houses at a roadside antique store having a 20% off sale, making them about $4 each. These will be springing a new collection because I am now totally obsessed with them. Made in Japan in the 1950s, each house is hand made and painted. They’re very small, at only about three to four inches tall with finishes ranging from brightly colored paint to glitter encrusted snow. The little windows are cellophane and printed paper and originally would have had electric lights inserted into holes cut in the back. I just love the colors and the attention to detail, especially the bottle brush and sponge trees.

Once back in Iowa, I did manage to find one last thing, Santa Claus! I’ve avoided Santa Claus plush toys in the past because they always seem a little creepy. But this one is just the right blend of creepy and cute. And for $6, the price was definitely right.


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