The Best Things to Buy at a Thrift Store and What Not to Buy

Vanessa Trevino | August 26, 2015

I used to think that thrift stores were depressing places full of junk, but after a few trips while in college, I found myself enjoying the experience. If you have a plan, the time, and are flexible to work around the changing selection of items available, then thrift stores are a great place to buy items like work wardrobe or budget friendly items for home improvement projects. Still, while thrift shopping is considerably cheaper than buying new items at a big-box retailer or department store, thrift stores still have their duds that can eat up your money if you’re not careful.

Here are some pointers that every thrift shopper should know. There are three key do’s and don’ts to consider when purchasing goods from a thrift store.


  • Clothing: Whether you’re looking for casual, formal, or costume outfits, thrift stores are a great place to shop for clothes. Most thrift stores carry name brand clothes that are still in great condition. But before you buy anything, be sure to try them on and inspect them for any stains or tears.
  • Furniture: Make sure you know exactly what you need and want when shopping for furniture at a thrift store. There is little standard of quality for furniture at thrift stores. So knowing exactly what you are looking for will help you stay away from buying a dud and make the experience much simpler.
  • Dishes: Thrift stores can be a great sources for dishes and kitchen sets as long as you don’t mind them being mismatched. If you shop for dishes at a couple of thrift stores, you’ll probably find several dishes of the same color and type that you can combine to create your own collection. As always, be sure to wash and sanitize your dishes before using.


  • Electronics: Age and functionality are two concerns to keep in mind if you’re considering buying electronic equipment at a thrift store. Therefore, I strongly advise against purchasing TVs, laptops, and other electronic equipment at a thrift store. In most cases, the warranty has expired and any repairs will have to come out of your own pocket.
  • Old Mattresses:  Used mattresses are another item to be wary of at a thrift store. There is simply no way of knowing the cleanliness of the mattress. An old mattress also won’t provide the support and comfort you need for your overall health.
  • Couches and Sofas: Like mattresses, I would also stay away from furniture pieces such as couches and sofas because you have no way of knowing how clean or unclean they are. Any furniture piece that is composed primarily of fabric would fall into this category.

Without a doubt, you’ll find some great bargains at thrift stores. I hope this list can help as you go on your shopping adventures. Have patience and remember to have fun while you’re at the thrift stores. You never know what kind of gems you may find!

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