What to Buy at a Thrift Store
- Clothing – You can find lots of brand name, high quality clothing at thrift stores.
- Never buy jeans retail. There are tons of jeans at thrift stores!
- Thrift stores are a great place to buy baby and maternity clothes. Since you and your baby quickly grow out of these clothes, why waste money buying retail? There are also consignment shops that specialize in these types of clothing.
- If you find brand name clothing that is new with the tags still on it, you can flip it for a profit on places like Poshmark. I’ve made at least $50 doing that this month. For more about Poshmark, see my previous post
- Winter clothes – Especially here in Florida, you can find great deals on winter clothes. People move down here from up north and donate their winter clothes. Last December, I went on a vacation to New England and found winter jacket, a sweater, snow boots, and gloves for less than $20 at a Goodwill near me.
- Tips for buying clothing at thrift stores
- Always try it on. Clothing sizes vary widely. Most thrift stores have a no refund policy.
- Take a close look at what you buy. Sometimes the zipper is broken, buttons are missing or there are tears, wears or a smoke smell. Of course, some of these issues are fixable. I accidentally bought a shirt that smelled of smoke and was able to remove the smell with white vinegar.
- Clothing accessories – belts, bags, shoes and more. There are plenty of gently used accessories at Thrift Stores. I would just be sure to disinfect shoes.
- Cords & cables – My boyfriend loves his gadgets and gizmos. He finds USB extender cables, HDMIs, charing cables, converters, and adapters of all sorts for less than a couple dollars, which would cost $10 and up new.
- Luggage – Don’t waste $40-50 on new luggage, when you can get ones in excellent condition at thrift stores for less than $10.
- Holiday decor – You can find amazing deals on Christmas and Halloween decor in the spring/summer.
- Books – Want to expand your library? You can get books for less than $1 at thrift stores. Many thrift stores have a large selection of books. It’s a great place to get cookbooks and children’s books too. Most of the books are in excellent condition and are a small fraction of what you would pay at a bookstore.
- Textbooks – you can find textbooks for under $5. Compared to $100 and up new!
- Be on the look out for vintage, 1st edition and signed books.
- Small kitchen appliances like quesadilla makers, waffle makers, deep fryers or popcorn poppers, toasters, etc. Most people end up only using speciality appliances a couple of times and then get bored with them so they will be in great shape and a fraction of the retail cost. ALWAYS PLUG IT IN AND TEST IT BEFORE YOU BUY IT. I found a very nice stainless steel Hamilton Beach toaster for $5 at one thrift store
- I don’t think I would buy a coffee maker at a thrift store because these days you can find new coffee makers at Walmart for $10. Usually by the time coffee makers get to thrift stores, they are in rough shape.
- Frames – Thrift stores have some very ornate and decorative picture and art frames. If you want to customize them to fit your decor, they can be easily sanded and repainted.
- Video games & consoles – Older games and game systems have become popular and expensive. Many thrift stores have games for under $2 and consoles for less than $10 that are now worth $40. My boyfriend has found a lot of great games, gaming accessories and consoles for practically nothing at thrift stores.
However, more recently, Goodwill and Salvation Army have began increasing their prices on consoles like Xbox and Wii, figuring out they are worth more now, but you can still find great deals on video game items in smaller thrift stores.
- Glassware & cast iron cookware – Glass pie and baking dishes are good buys. Plus, Cast iron lasts forever and is easy to clean. Typically, you can get these items for a couple dollars or less compared to over $25 new.
- Vintage Pyrex – its a popular item, durable and very collectible. I see them at thrift stores all the time for really great prices.
- Tools – You can find high quality tools at thrift stores from brands like Craftsman, which have lifetime warranties
- Furniture – It is rare to find decent furniture in perfect shape at thrift stores, but if you are crafty and creative, you can transform ugly, scratched up piece of furniture into something beautiful and elegant. If furniture makeovers is something that you are interested in, I highly recommend checking out http://www.blesserhouse.com/furniture-makeovers . This blogger has transformed cheap thrift store furniture into gorgeous pottery barn look alikes. Of course, keep in mind that it is a very time consuming process and requires a lot of tools and supplies. However, you have the potential to save hundreds of dollars on furniture if you are willing to put the time and effort into learning to DIY.
- Collectables – Sports memorabilia, vintage fisher price toys, older coffee mugs with logos like Starbucks, collectible glasses like McDonalds and Disney Cartoons, antiques, old Balls mason jars, vintage books/cookbooks….
- Home Decor – There is a large assortment of decorative candle holders, platters, vases, baskets, paintings, flower pots. All you need is a little creativity. You can re-paint, repurpose or upcycle them. Here are some creative things you can do with thrift store decorations
- Toys – Used toys are much more affordable than new ones. Just disinfect them thoroughly and make sure there are no missing or broken pieces.
- Lamps – There are some nice lamp bases at thrift stores for less than $10. If you don’t like the shade, you could always replace it fairly cheap. You can also easily repaint the base. Also, you can find some stylish chandeliers at thrift stores too.
- Sporting gear (except helmets) – You can find golf clubs, snowboards, ski’s, soccer balls baseball bats and more. Sometimes it might take some shopping around to find exactly what you are looking for though.
- Bicycles – Thrift stores are great places to find discounted bicycles. No need to pay full retail price for these. I see bikes every time I go to the thrift store!
- DVDs and CDs – Thrift stores are the cheapest place you can find these items anywhere. You can usually get them for less than $1, which is less than any online prices once you factor in shipping costs.
- Dishware – You can get glasses, plates, bowls, coffee mugs and more for under $1 at thrift stores. I’m one of those people who like complete matching sets, which is difficult to find at thrift stores, but if you are a college student, buying some dishes at a thrift store will save you a lot of money!
What Not to Buy at Thrift Stores
- Metal utensils or bakeware – You don’t want rust in your food.
- Electronics – These items are usually overpriced for what you get and aren’t worth the repairs down the road. They sell old dvd players for $15 when you can get one new at Walmart these days for $20. Most computers or laptops that you see at thrift stores are there for a reason. There is probably something wrong with it that might not be obvious at first glance (even after plugging it in at the testing station). Computer and TV repairs are expensive. It will cost more to fix it than its actually worth. Best to get these items new & with a warranty.
- Underwear, swimsuits, lingerie – This one is self-explanatory.
- Used mattresses and bed linens – You don’t want to risk getting bed bugs.
- Cosmetics – They could be contaminated. You could end up with a nasty case of pink eye after buying used eye makeup. Better to be safe than sorry.
- Sofas – Again, you don’t want to bring home any bugs.
- Cribs, Strollers and Car Seats – They could have safety hazards and could have been recalled.
- Blenders – I’ve been told that their motors die easily and the blades get worn, that it would be best to just buy a new one new at Walmart for $10.
- Socks – DUH
- Puzzles– You know there are going to be missing pieces. And along those lines, if you are going to buy board games, you should definitely check to make sure everything is included.
Thrift Stores: Where and When
- The location of the thrift store is important. I tend to find more at thrift stores in wealthier areas. You will find higher quality items at nicer thrift stores.
- Visit frequently. Some days you won’t find anything, but sometimes you will hit the jackpot. Just be patient and don’t get discouraged.
- Know your thrift store’s sale days. The thrift stores in my area offer 50% off sales clothing or furniture frequently.
- July is a great time to go to thrift stores because most have Christmas in July sales where they offer 50% off everything.
- Mornings are the best time of day to go to thrift stores because you will get first pick of the stuff they put out the previous night.
- Ask your thrift store when they restock so that you will know when the best day to stop by would be. Every thrift store is different so I can’t really tell you what day is best to go to get the most selection.