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9 Things You Should Always Buy from a Thrift Store

Inspired Living Real Estate Collective March 9, 2022

Shopping at a thrift store no longer has the stigmatization that it once did and is now considered a mainstream activity, a primary shopping venue, and even an income opportunity. Thrifting as a verb is even recognized in the urban dictionary. This could be due in part to advertisements that now glamorize the deals and unique finds that can be found at thrift stores, recalling the gentleman riding out of Goodwill on a unicorn.
For some, it is the thrill of the hunt for a good deal or finding that unique treasure. Some thrift is a business opportunity to find unique or undervalued items to resell for a profit. Some just see it as a great way to save money on common household items that they need and would otherwise spend more money on. Plus, it is a great way to follow the reduce, reuse, and recycle principles! Whatever the reason, thrifting has many benefits! Below I cover some of the best things to always consider checking your local thrift store for first.


We all know how expensive jeans can be! Most thrift stores have racks and racks full of jeans – many of them designer brands. It is also a great way to see numerous brands, colors and styles all in one place.

Office and School Supplies

Office and school supplies can be ridiculously expensive! You would be amazed at the vast selection of supplies that you can find at your local thrift store including envelopes, paper, cards, binders, flyer stands, staplers, hole punches and a great array of other essentials at a fraction of the cost!

Art Supplies

The thrift store is always our first stop when the kids have school projects. We converted an old football into the body of a beetle and have found countless other items for dioramas, solar system displays and other projects. There are so many art supplies as well as items that can be transformed for art projects…but sometimes you just need to have a creative eye for the possibilities! Pro tip: Unless you are able to test them, avoid purchasing items like gel pens, markers and glue as they are often times dried out.

Artwork and Décor

I have found so many amazing vases, decorative bowls, paintings, and other artwork that we have used in our own home as well as our rental properties at the thrift store for a fraction of the cost. Many items still show their original price tag so you know just how good of a deal you are getting!

Holiday Decorations and Costumes

Deck the halls, on a budget! There is always an amazing array of holiday décor available to make your home merry for the holidays! Plus there is wrapping paper, gift bags (for any time of the year), Christmas trees, tree skirts and ornaments, platters and service ware plus so much more! And thrift stores are THE place to get your Halloween costume! They have everything from the pre-packaged to individual pieces to create that one-of-a-kind, unforgettable costume, at a great price!

Books and DVDs

The thrift store is my first stop when I am looking for a book. I frequently find the specific book that I am looking for, especially when it is a school-required book for my kids as those get donated in volume (especially if you can find a thrift store that is near where the school is located). While DVDs have lost their luster in this day and age, it is fun to have some of the classics on hand…that is if you even own a DVD player anymore!

Pet Supplies

I think pet stores capitalize on knowing how much we love our pets and their prices reflect this! You can find everything from aquariums, puppy pads, water and food bowls, cages, toys, pet clothes, leashes, and so much more. We even get replacement shells for our hermit crabs at the thrift store!

Dishes and Housewares

I love unique coffee mugs and thrift stores are the place to find them! I have even gotten complete cookware sets in nearly new condition. Serving bowls, mixing bowls, and platters have been some of my favorite finds!


My rule of thumb is that it has to be easily washable in order for me to consider purchasing it. Duvet covers can be incredibly expensive and are in ample supply at many thrift stores in every size, color, and style. Bath mats, decorative pillow covers, throw blankets, you name it and they have it…at great prices!


Location Matters

The more affluent the area, the better quality of items that people tend to donate to their local thrift store. Target thrift stores in the better parts of town. Many thrift stores in these areas also feature designer sections where you can pick up bargains on designer purses, shoes, clothes, jewelry, and accessories.

Know the Lay of the Land

Get to know the layout of the stores that you frequent so that you can pop in and out quickly when looking for specific items.

Only Buy What You Need

Don’t get caught in the trap of buying something that you don’t need just because it is a good deal! Unless you are in the business of reselling your found treasures, this habit can lead to a very cluttered home. Thrifting is a great way to save money on common household items but if you end up purchasing every great deal that you come across, you completely defeat the purpose.

Check Your Items Carefully

The return policy varies dramatically from thrift store to thrift store with some offering a week return policy and many others offering none. Even if they do have a return policy, most only offer store credit and not a refund of your money. Check for tears, stains, wear and tear, missing buttons, check that zippers work, ripped or missing pages, etc. If you are purchasing electronics, they generally indicate on the label if they have been tested by the staff and/or also offer a station where you can plug things in to test them. 
And most of all, Have Fun! Finding a great deal or a unique treasure is awesome! But keep in mind that not every thrift adventure will be successful. If you have one that is convenient to get to, make it your go-to as it can be a huge cost savings to check there first before paying full retail prices. Plus there is a benefit to the planet that items are getting a second life with a new owner and not ending up in a landfill. Give it a try! Your pocketbook and planet will thank you!
And, thrift stores are a great place to donate all of your unneeded items! There are so many wonderful charitable organizations that have thrift stores with the proceeds being used to help support their programs - Thrift With a Purpose! One of our beloved charity partners, Maggie’s Place, has just this! They accept donations of clothing, household items, home décor, books, and toys. Check them out and if you have items to donate, they would greatly appreciate your support!

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