Today is National Thrift Shop Day, an event so special it caused me to post on a Monday 🙂 In all honesty though, thrift stores are great for frugal people and others who are just trying to save some money on everyday purchases. Imagine if everything we bought was brand new?
It would be costly and wasteful to toss gently used items and purchase new ones all the time. Thrift stores offer a wide variety of items at a fraction of the retail price so shopping at second hand stores is definitely great for the environment and your wallet.
If you don’t regularly shop at thrift stores and need more convincing, check out my post today on YoungFinances.com about the benefits of thrifting.
Here, I want to talk about seven of the best items to look for at thrift stores along with the things you should avoid.
Most people head to second hand stores in search of clothing and there are usually a lot of great options. A lot of households donate clothes just to get rid of clutter and purge the things they don’t wear anymore so one person’s trash can definitely be another person’s treasure.
You can find clothes for the whole family for cheap including athletic wear, maternity clothes and baby clothes. Some items that you come across may even be brand new because retail stores donate to thrift stores as well.
What to Avoid: Stained, torn or ripped clothing. Stains or rips in clothing might make it unwearable and it should not even be sold at a thrift store. Shopping can take a while because you have to sort through a lot of clothing to find what you like but there are plenty of clean, gently used clothing items that still have a lot of wear left in them so you shouldn’t have to spend your money on low quality clothing. I also wouldn’t buy homemade knit sweaters (as they would fall apart) or undergarments that are not new.
If you have kids, you’ll know that toys are expensive. On the flip side, you’ll also know that it really doesn’t take much to impress a young child. Used toys are affordable and easy to disinfect or clean off so your child can play with them.
Just this past Saturday, I went to Goodwill in search of a few long sleeve shirts to round up my son’s back-to-school wardrobe and I caught him playing in between the aisles with a giant pirate ship. He was super excited about it since he’s into this new Disney show called Jake and the Neverland Pirates. I looked at the toy and it was $4. I usually don’t buy him a bunch of toys, but the size and quality of this toy along with the price even got me excited. It had a lower deck, fully functional sails, canons that popped out at the bottom, and a little figurine that came with it.
A normal pirate ship like that would have retailed for around $50 (I checked) and the new ones I saw online didn’t even have all the features that this one did. I knew my son would be grateful so I grabbed it and he just couldn’t stop telling everyone we came across that day about his new pirate ship.
What to Avoid: Broken toys or toys that clearly have missing pieces/features. Also, I wouldn’t buy anything that’s supposed to be battery operated because it might not work. It may work with batteries, but that’s just a chance you have to take. Thrift stores tend to carry quite a few broken or non-functional toys as well so that’s something to look out for.
3. Small Kitchen Appliances
If you need a toaster, waffle maker or coffee maker, check your local thrift store before spending big bucks at a major retail store. You can often find these items at a thrift store in great condition for $10 or less. I still have my toaster that I got for $5 at Savers back in 2012. We use it every day and it works great.
What to Avoid: Out-of-date appliances, metal pans and silverware. I know that thrift stores often get associated with older items, but an outdated microwave or toaster just won’t cut it for most households so it’s best not to waste your money on it. Wait around and some newer items will show up eventually.
Metal pans and silverware are also bad ideas because metal pans get worn out easily and maybe it’s just me but I have a thing about using items that were once in a stranger’s mouth. I know we do this at restaurants all the time, but I just feel funny about having to use old silverware in my home. Plus, you can buy a ton brand new silverware at Walmart for just a few dollars.
4. Books and Movies
If you love to read and collect books, searching for what you need at a thrift store is a must. These stores usually have a wide variety of books for just $0.99 to $2. Some stores even have impressive DVD collections as well on sale for only a few dollars.
What to Avoid: Books with binding that is falling apart or scratched DVDs. If the book has cheap binding or is falling apart, sometimes it’s best to pass on it. I would also check the DVDs you’re interested in for deep scratches on the back since that may prevent the disc from playing properly.
Buying furniture at a thrift store can be an exhilarating experience because it can save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Tables, chairs, desks, end tables, dressers coffee tables and couches can all be found at thrift stores for 60-90% less than major retail outlets.
What do Avoid: Furniture that doesn’t seem too sturdy or is too worn out.
6. Art and Home Décor
Stylish art and décor that adds life to your home and makes it more comfortable but it comes at a price and most times, your budget can limit your creativity. Thrift stores sell different genre’s and styles of art along with that highly sought after vintage look. You can find plenty of picture frames, canvas pieces, paintings and simple decorations just by poking around the thrift store.
What to Avoid: Unrepairable pieces that have nicks and scratches or foggy un-cleanable plastic. Carefully inspect each item before you purchase it. If it has scratches or another flaw that could be difficult to fix, ask yourself if you can look past it and if it will still live up to its’ intended function if you bring it home. Sometimes it’s very difficult to make returns or exchanges at thrift stores.
7. Recreational Equipment
Items like bikes, golf clubs, gardening supplies and tools are all great finds at thrift stores. Buying these items brand new is unnecessary if you can locate them used and in great condition. If you only use your bike for a few seasons or have limited use for other recreational items, it’s best to buy used.
What to Avoid: Used items that don’t function properly. You shouldn’t have to fix up used used recreational equipment since it almost always turns out being a waste of time and money. The item should be ready to use when you purchase it.
What are your favorite items to buy at thrift stores?
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