How to Thrift

There are so many aspects to buying from thrift stores that would blow your mind. That includes knowing the right stores, what to buy and not to buy, how to profit from, and just how to thrift in general. It's not just about going cheap or purchase used items, but getting quality items for less, sometimes with the ability to make back two to ten times what you paid for an item.

We did some research on how to thrift and have compiled them for you to make your next thrift shopping experience excellent. 

What Should You Not Buy At Thrift Stores?

Not all that glitters is gold! Therefore, while you're looking for a bargain, some things are just not worth purchasing from a thrift shop, including:

Anything With an Odor

image of a skunk for How to Thrift post

The title alone should set off an alarm. If it smells, it could mean that food items, animal droppings, pee, etc., may have been left behind so that the thing may contain bacteria. It's not worth trying to clean it.

Upholstered Furniture 

Upholstered furniture is always a no-no. What is lurking beneath the material, especially if it's an antique, could be dangerous. Anything before 2010 could contain toxins. From mite to bugs, it's just not worth it, and that includes upholstered headboards.

Stuffed Animals

Not everyone dry cleans their children's stuffed animals; therefore, just like upholstered items, there could be lots of germs in them.

Car Seats

image of a car seat for How to Thrift post

Every year or two, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proposes new additions or subtractions to car seats, mainly when accidents occur. Maybe the one you buy is a recall, and your child might be in danger.  




Pressure and slow cookers, rusty baking pans, or chipped non-stick pans are things to avoid. The pressure and slow cooker get worn out over time, and often there is food matter left in the rubber and other areas or even faulty wires, and that's cause for concern. Buy a new one.

Electronic Devices

Laptops, tablets, and cellular phones often get damaged when they drop, or they may have water damage which you can't determine by looking at them. 

Nursery Furniture

Safety first! Manufacturers can recall items, or they just got worn over time from kids jumping on them. Always go new when it comes to baby furniture. Cribs are updated often, just like strollers.

Pet Furniture

Again, like upholstered items, they might have odors or insects that could end up costing you more in veterinary bills later.

Vacuum Cleaners & Appliances

Vacuum cleaners don't usually last long, so you might be purchasing one that is near to dying or already dead. Make sure to test it first. Test

Sheets, Blankets, Towels, etc.

You'll be cuddling in these often, so why purchase items that the previous owner might not have adequately sanitized? Invest in new ones.

Quaint Crystal and Utensils & Dishes

Unless you're looking to contaminate your food and drinks, this is a no. They may contain high concentrations of lead oxide. 

Hardware & Construction Items

Doors, windows, doorknobs, latches, or any antique construction items require lead testing to be on the safe side as the paint may have lead. Also, once the paint is peeling off any antique, you should get it tested.

How Do You Find Good Stuff When Thrifting 

Be open-minded

Always be open to trying out different things, and you might be surprised that a style and color you wouldn't ordinarily like will suit you just fine. 

Write a list

Keeping a list of what you need or desire will save you time and money as you won't buy random items. 

Weekly Bargains

For some thrift stores, that's a Sunday, but there are always special deals throughout the week; enquire. Some stores also launch a sales calendar with their special weekly or bi-weekly discount. Most of them have a Facebook page, so keep checking for details.

Buy Out of Season

Look for winter items during summer and spring during winter etc. This way, you won't have to scramble to find great things.

Expand Your Horizons

Don't just go to the store closest to you, but rather visit areas outside your community to find variety.

Don't Rush

The moment you give up might be the time you'd come upon that fancy dress, sweater, or shirt. Scout the entire rack before deciding. 

Go Early

Even though the stores rotate items throughout the day, you find all the best items early in the morning when customers haven't misplaced any items.

What Should I Look For When Thrifting 

Unique Decor and Discontinued Toys

You are thinking about how to thrift? Buying unique items that will have all your friends and loved ones drooling is an excellent way. Suppose you're an antique collector or nerd, even better. There's always something for you.

Top Brand Clothing

If you frequent thrift stores, you are probably aware that there is a wealth of fantastic clothing to be discovered. Most people don't realize this, which is why you can make a lot of money with your expertise!


Shoes are costly, even if you didn't realize it as a youngster, especially if you understand that investing in excellent brands pays off looking good and having long-lasting footwear.


Being from a college town, several of our thrift stores are bursting at the seams with coursebooks once the semester is over. These are usually the smaller paperback books that everyone has to buy, rather than the $300 engineering texts that the library buys back.

Purses and Bags

You don't completely understand agony and suffering until your children desire a specific school backpack. Some newer knapsacks are so pricey that you can resell from thrift stores. You can find unique handbags and purses there too.

How Do You Profit From Thrift

Here are a few simple pointers on how to make money from your thrift store finds:

Always Do Your Research Online First.

When it comes to making a profit from thrifting, your smartphone is your best friend. When you're out shopping, make sure you have a good internet connection since the easiest way to ensure a profit is to do a short search on eBay before you buy something.

It serves as a reasonably dependable barometer for the ultimate selling price and can provide you with a starting point. If you're unsure whether an item is collectible, look at how many are on eBay, the current average bid, and any previous sales data.

Look For Any Markings

Not sure how much that piece of art is worth? Look for stamps on the item, then look up the stamp online to see how it relates to resale value.

You can usually find a stamp on the clasp or the back of a pendant if you have a piece of jewelry. Compare your jewelry markings to those online.

Shop at High-End Stores

Higher-end areas are more likely to have higher-end thrift shop hauls so that you may find better-quality and name-brand items in those areas.

Make Use of Discount Days

Because of donations, thrift retailers must rotate their inventory regularly. As a result, many stores have a day or two each month when things are heavily discounted to make way for the next shipment.

Make Sure The Items Can Be Cleaned Easily

Before you sell something, ensure that you can clean them. Fragile clothes requiring dry cleaning might not be a promising move. Unless it's a high-end designer item, you're unlikely to reclaim the cost of the article, plus the cost of laundering. Check for stains and odors first, and steer clear of any garments that require more than laundering or a lint roller.

When it comes to housewares, seek items with minor signs of wear, keeping in mind that some materials, such as glass, ceramics, and silver, may require a little polishing before being sold.

Consider The Cost Of Packaging

Always think about how packaging costs affect your bottom line when learning how to thrift. Which boxes you utilize, for example, maybe more essential than you think. You'll spend more for shipping if you use a package that's larger than you need and have to stuff it with packing material.

The United States Postal Service (USPS) provides free boxes; however, the sizes are limited. Boxes that better fit the dimensions of the products you're transporting can be found at Office Depot and Amazon.

Think About Shipping Costs

Shipping decides whether your company makes money or loses money. The more expensive it is to ship an item that is larger and heavier. By weighing your alternatives, you can determine which delivery method is the most cost-effective and convenient for your company.

The Bottom Line

How to thrift is easy for some and a pain for others. However, if you follow all the guidelines in this article, you'll learn the things to avoid, when to shop, how to get the best deals, and of course, how to make a profit.