Being thrifty isn’t just for college kids; it’s for all kids. And what better way to be thrifty than to shop at thrift stores? I’m sure most of you have been inside a second-hand store, but usually when we need to buy something our minds jump to Target, not Good Will. This needs to change.
I’ll admit that thrifting can be hit or miss. Depending on where you live and what day you go, you might walk in and walk out or you might be tempted to buy everything you see. A successful day of thrifting takes strategy and a little bit of luck. You need to know what you’re looking for, people!
To help you out, I’ve listed the top six items worth buying at thrift stores. Other than Halloween costumes, of course.
6. Games and Puzzles
Mmm… puzzles… Buying games and puzzles at a thrift store poses the risk of a missing piece or two, but I think it’s worth it. Would you rather spend $3 on a puzzle or $12? Or maybe puzzles are lame and you’d rather not spend any money on a stupid puzzle. That’s cool. When I said games, I wasn’t just talking checkers, I meant Mario. That’s right, video games are great buys at thrift stores. And not just games, but accessories, too. I once dug through a pile of guitar controllers (yes, a pile!) to find one that would work with my Wii. Sadly, they were all for PlayStation.
5. Sports Equipment
Why would I spend $4 on a brand new softball if I’m just going to hit it and throw it around until it looks like, well, a used softball? If it’s going to be a used softball in a few months anyway, I’d rather save a few bucks and buy it that way. This holds true for most sports equipment. Unless you are trying to become an elite athlete, I’m not sure why you’d buy basketballs or baseball bats anywhere else.
This lamp was $5. The base, the shade, 5 bucks, BOOM! At Target the base alone would be at least $2o, plus another $15-$20 for a shade. I also have a really sturdy floor lamp that I bought second-hand for $12. The same price at Walmart will result in a floor lamp that sways in your non-existent apartment breeze. As you’ve noticed, I’m into getting lamps at thrift stores. But all furniture is fair game. Based on what I’ve seen, I’d strongly recommend end tables, or any sort of table for that matter, and shelving units. And don’t forget about patio furniture! That’s on the top of my thrift list right now.
Most thrift stores I’ve been in have had quality dishes. And yes, they’re clean. I bought a set of wine glasses for $1 each, which is an especially good deal because of how often I break wine glasses. Plates, drinking glasses and even utensils are also good thrift store steals. You could buy a cheap set of dishes from Target, or you could get a higher quality set from a second-hand store for the same price. Mugs, pint glasses and shot glasses are also really fun to look for at thrift stores because of how unique they are. You can get a UW-Madison class of ’87 mug without ever stepping foot in the state of Wisconsin. How neat is that?
Some thrift stores have enough books to fill a miniature library. I love actual libraries, but there have been times my book has been due before I’ve even cracked it open. Aside from not having to return the books, you can write in them! Look for classics or tough pieces of literature that you might want to take a pen to. But really, any book for $2-$4 is a good deal.
Buying decorations at a second-hand store can be really challenging if you don’t know what you’re looking for or how to decorate. That’s why I usually stick to frames. Thrift stores are the mecca of frames. The key is to not be afraid of buying a frame with a really ugly picture inside. If it’s the right size and color, buy that thing and gut it once you get home. Items at thrift stores are really unique and tend to have a lot of character. If you can harness that awesomeness into decorations for your own apartment, chances are you’ll have a pretty good looking place.
Bonus #1: Clothes
You may have noticed that I didn’t mention buying clothes from thrift stores. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t; it just means that my lack of fashion sense has prevented me from finding anything worthwhile. I need to see manniquins and pictures of how to wear clothes or I can’t function. But I have friends who have found really stylin’ outfits at second-hand stores. So go for it!
Bonus #2: Music
If you are a music junkie and own a record and/or cassette player, take a look at the variety of music that most thrift stores have to offer. I’m always tempted to rummage through the vinyls, but my lack of a record player usually deters me.
There you have it. My top picks for items to put on your thrift list. What do you like shopping for at second-hand stores?