Top 10 Things To Look For In A Thrift Store

OH MAN. This topic was a long time coming. I’ve had tons of requests to do a post like this for some time. So here they are. My top 10 categories I hunt for (and you should too) when I’m out junkin in the thrift stores. Ready > Set > Go!

– Belts / Jewelry

Hand-tooled, leather, faux punk, western, southern. They’re all beautiful and can fetch a pretty penny (that is, if you can stand to part with them.)

– Pottery/Vintage Ceramics/Mugs/Glasswear

Pottery is a tricky one. There’s the old stalwarts such as McCoy which I come across every so often. But pottery and ceramics are also subject specific too. If you see a glazed mini-planter with a cute little baby deer on it, odds are that somebody obsessively collects baby deer stuff and they’ll likely have to have it.

– Footwear

From special edition Air Jordans to Manolo Blahniks. They do exist out there and can turn up anywhere.

– T-Shirts

A definite personal item. I’m an admitted t-shirt junkie. I like vintage, one of a kind or ironic shirts. T-shirts store easily and don’t take up too much space. Band shirts and big name brand threads can sell quite well if in good shape. Be sure to closely inspect clothing and hold it up to an angle to the store’s lights to check for any hidden oil spots or stains.

– Records

This one is mostly self-explanatory. Thrift stores occasionally let great collections slip into their racks so you have to keep your eyes peeled. Be sure to actually inspect the vinyl itself, as 9 out of 10 times the record is incredibly beat up.

– Artwork (Vintage Oils, Screen Prints, Needleworks, etc)

My personal forte’ is artwork. Be on the lookout for original screen prints, oil paintings, lithographs, etc. This is a tricky category as you need to know about printing and reproduction practices but can be very lucrative if you master some basics. Having a smart phone with internet connection while in the store can help you quick search artists and styles, lessening the gamble.

– Jackets / Outerwear

Since I live in a (super god-damned) cold region of our country, I’m always buying outerwear. Vintage leathers, corduroys, flannels, furs can fetch a lot in consignment shops. Be sure to give them a thorough once-over before you buy. Hold them to the light and be looking for stains, tears, broken zippers/snaps, and missing pocket linings.

– Lamps, Picture Frames and Home Decor

These sell great on Etsy or even in on a regular garage sale. Be aware that they can be a bitch to store and ship though. Be sure to check for cracks in porcelain lamps and most thrift shops provide a nearby socket (and sometimes a bulb) to test out the object to see if it’s in working condition.

– Books

Another one that’s highly subjective. Whether you’re an artist and need fodder for collages, have kids, graphic designer, or just want a new pulpy read. Thrift shops can feature a great selection of literature to peruse. I’ve even found original signed copies of books by David Sedaris, Bruce Mau and Thomas L. Friedman!

– Out-of-Print Commodity Items

This could include anything from camera stands (shown) to milk crates or bottle openers. This particular topic harkens me back to my video post on how I just prefer “old sh*t that works better than the new sh*t“. You’d be surprised at how much more visceral and satisfying it is to open up a bottle of beer with an old iron bottle opener  and feel the hefty weight of it. Or maybe you’re shooting with an old Polaroid camera and shaking it to watch it develop in your finger tips.

– – – –

Please feel free to discuss and comment if you think I missed anything or any glaring category.

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10 responses to “Top 10 Things To Look For In A Thrift Store

  1. David Sedaris and Thomas L. Friedman?! And signed, at that! Would love to come across some gems like those. You must be a fan of Coast2Coast. Thanks for the category overviews. Very helpful.

  2. Pingback: Top 10 Things To Look For In A Thrift Store « ^^^ THINGS I FOUND … | Welcome2Green

  3. Thrift store records are by far my favorite way to get great older music at a super (SUPER) low price. Especially when they end up being really hard to come by, later on.

    And as far as out-of-print items – polaroid cameras that still have the film in them are an untouched gem, if you’re into the ‘roids.

    Great post!

  4. Ooh! I recently discover some really cool belts at my local Goodwill.
    One was a very 70’s, tooled leather with a handmade stained glass buckle of a sunset. Even the check out guy commented on how cool it is. It’s my favorite belt and wear it every chance I get!
    I never really checked the belt section before this score and now I ALWAYS check.
    Love your blog!

  5. I’ve always gotten luckiest in the ceramics/clothing department, but I’ll give books another shot. Generally I just seem to run across crock-pot cookbooks in that section…

  6. Great post and even better website! We will talk about this on our next podcast of Bummin Cousins!
    Good work!

  7. I find alligator belts all the time. I buy whatever I find, buy I am very grateful for the men’s sizes, because you can wear them over sweaters. I also seem to find belts with sterling buckles. Thanks for your tips here. Why shop on Tuesday and Wednesday? Because most shoppers are there on Saturday, and the merchandise is low on Monday? Sometimes I find brand new duffle bags that were meant for promotions. My dogs’ travel bag is one with 6 velcro pockets, and was $5. It zips up to keep the dog food nice and secure. I once bought a Cartier black briefcase for $8. I can afford to buy anything, but the Thrift store is about the only store around besides Walmart and Home Depot, so it’s like a hunt.

  8. you can find 100 of beanie babys at trift stores


  10. uhm, I just have to point out that those Manolo Blahnik’s are the one’s that are in Sex and the City: The Movie.

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