What to buy at the thrift store

So what Should You Buy At the Thrift Store?

The truth is when you mention thrift shopping or shopping at the Goodwill certain people will look at you and make judgments. They will look at you and maybe think why would a person want to shop there. There is a certain stigma about thrift stores that certain people hold onto and without a willingness to go and see what the thrift store has they will never know the treasure that really each store holds. And maybe even some reading this will think that thrift stores are dirty, filled with junk, or things from someone’s deceased 90 year old grandma. I’m here to tell you that they are in fact a treasure trove, of well treasures!

So today I thought id share some things that you should be looking for at the thrift store. These things can also be looked for at tag or garage sales, church giveaways, or other types of places like auctions. I will also give you a few ideas on some things to pass on as well.

Clothing of course is my number one find while out. The options for clothing are endless! You can find stylish up to date modern clothes. I’m not going to lie at least 90% of my wardrobe is from either the thrift store, or some type of giveaway. But let’s say you’re into vintage clothing, or you want to find a jacket like your great aunt Martha had on in a photo. Chances are good you’ll find one at the thrift store! Let’s say you need a special occasion dress for an upcoming event, I bet you’ll find one at the thrift store! You need a costume for a party; I know you will find something at the thrift store! Children and baby clothes are also a big thing to buy as cheap as possible. Let’s face it children grow most times before they have had a chance to wear them more than once or twice and before they have had a chance to get them dirty. Let someone else pay retail and you get them for a dollar or 2 and save the difference!

Children and baby items are a good bargain but also something to buy with some caution. Toys for the most part are a great deal, however it is also a good idea to take the toy home and clean it before letting your child play with it. Baby items like strollers, playpens, bouncy seats, and items along that nature are generally a safe bet too. Books are always a safe bet, as long as you have flipped through the book to make sure that it isn’t marked or colored in and that no pages have been ripped out. There are a few things to stay away from however when it comes to baby items. Cribs may not be to the safety standards as far as the spacing of the bars and also may contain lead paint if older. Also carseats and baby carriers may be outdated or may have been in an accident. The only time to buy these items secondhand is when you are buying them for someone you know. Games and puzzles can be a safe bet as long as you check that all the pieces are there.

Home décor is usually a pretty safe bet as well, especially if you are looking at higher ticket items that are expensive otherwise. It is a good idea to know the approximate price of the item new though as to make sure that you are getting a good deal. Also, if the items are vintage or antique it is good to know the approximate value of the item. Some may think that the item may be worth more than it is and you could end up over paying for the item. This is where bringing a smart phone with you is a good thing so you can do a quick Google search to see the value.

Home goods, such as pots and pans, small appliances, linens, and pillows are a matter that is touch and go. If purchasing small electrical appliances make sure that the store either has a space to test the functionality of the item or that you can return the item if you get it home and find it doesn’t work. Pots and pans and other cooking items make sure that they are in good repair, such as no scratches on the non stick surface, not dents or dings and that there is a lid if it should include one. Linens and pillows can be a good deal but make sure that you check tags for sizes, if the item has elastic make sure it still has plenty of give, check for stains, tears, or other repairs. Also check for care instructions as well.

Dishes are also a pretty safe bet. Many people like to set a holiday table with different patterns mixed together in the same color family. Shopping at the thrift store allows you to accomplish this look. There is also the chance that a plate or bowl from a favorite set of dishes has been broke over the years the thrift store is a great place to find a replacement piece.

There are many options for entertainment at the thrift store as well. This includes books, games and puzzles, cd’s, DVD’s and crafting supplies. These are generally a safe bet too. One thing I would like to warn about people about is making sure that the books are general good repair. Puzzles and games just make sure the pieces are all there may be times workers may not be able to check the all. Cd’s and DVD’s just open to make sure the disc is in the case (I’ve been burned on this just assuming the disc is in the case and got home and the disc was gone) and also make sure that the disc is playable.
There are a few items I tend to stay away from at thrift stores, these include:

1. Baby items like cribs, car seats and baby carriers, and other items that may have been painted.

2. Personal care items such as shampoo, conditioners, makeup, and lotion. These are ok if you are familiar with the people who are selling (like a friend is having a garage sale) or if the package is new and unopened.

3. Undergarments.

4. Electronics with outdated wiring, unless you plan on rewiring. Older wiring can cause an increase of fire risk.

5. Anything that you are going to have to hold onto over 6 months before using it. You aren’t saving money if you are paying to store the item. The space the item takes up is sometimes a precious commodity, especially if you live in a smaller home.

These are not generally everything you can find at the thrift store, and should only be used as a guideline. Many items you have to use your own discretion if you feel comfortable buying it secondhand. Remember, the purpose of thrift shopping is to save money and to have fun!

About the Author...
Leslie Wagner
I love a good bargain and I’m not afraid to tell you about it!