How to Hunt for Spectacular Finds at Thrift Shops


Most people love finding a bargain. For those looking for inexpensive functional or decorative pieces, hours spent in thrift shops are usually exciting and fulfilling. You might discover a collectible comic book, an antique table, or a good set of used golf clubs. You never know what you’ll find, and new items arrive often.

What Do People Look for in Thrift Stores?

Most thrift stores feature clothing, furniture, household items, shoes, and decor. While you may hope to find a specific style and brand of a blue shirt, the chances are that you’ll only find a collection of blue shirts. Thrift store shopping isn’t your best choice if you need a particular item. However, if you’re willing to browse through all those blue shirts to find one you like, the inexpensive pricing and wide variety can be thrilling.

Note, it’s important to know how to tell which pieces are high quality and how to clean them properly when you bring them home.


Occasionally you can find thrift store clothing with original tags, meaning these items haven’t been worn. Those are always good choices. However, most items are previously worn, and you’ll need to consider several factors when deciding if you’re going to buy them:

  • Is the fabric frayed or in good condition?
  • Are there rips or stains?
  • What are the washing instructions?
  • Is the item from a reputable brand?
  • What type of fabric is the clothing made from?


Thrift store clothing often has a unique smell and needs to be disinfected before wearing. Dry cleaning is recommended, but a hot water and vinegar rinse can do the job at home.


All types of furniture are sold at thrift stores. If you plan to sell your home, finding an inexpensive statement piece can enhance your home’s appeal to prospective buyers. For instance, bookshelves and entertainment centers provide ways to reduce clutter and make your rooms look cleaner. Or, if you’re always on the hunt for a mid-century modern diamond in the rough, a thrift store can be the perfect place to look.


When inspecting used furniture, look for:

  • Scratches and marred or broken pieces
  • Rips or holes in the upholstery
  • Missing or broken hinges, handles, and other components
  • Noisy springs
  • Stability


If a piece of furniture has wear and tear that can be fixed, don’t underestimate how far you can go with DIY furniture refinishing. Online guides and tutorials can give you all the necessary information to breathe new life into an older table, console or nightstand.


Of course, furniture with fabric can get a second chance too. If a piece has good bones, you may simply need to connect with a reputable furniture reupholstery shop to have your piece returned to new. This can be a pricey undertaking if you’re not careful, so mind your fabric choices, and carefully vet shops, looking for ones with high ratings and great reviews.

Household Items

Household goods range from comforters and throw pillows to dishes, glasses, and pans. You can also find televisions, microwaves, and hair dryers. Look for chips, scratches, and broken handles in kitchenware. Pay attention to stains, uneven stuffing, rips, and fading in fabric items. Ask a store associate to plug in electrical products to see if they work properly.

Hot water and vinegar can clean most of these finds.


Some people won’t wear thrift store shoes. If you do look for used shoes, pay attention to scuffs, broken heels, loose stitching, and overall wear and tear.

Some shoes can be washed in a washing machine. Magic erasers, soapy water, shoe polish, and brushes can make surfaces look much cleaner. You can also use shoe deodorizers and replace insoles.


Lamps, mirrors, pictures, baskets, and figurines are often found on thrift store shelves. Check for dings and broken pieces, loose weave, and overall wear. Most of these items can be cleaned with soap and water.

Why Should You Shop Thrift Stores?

Whether you are looking for inexpensive pieces, want to give used goods a second chance or simply want to do your part to help the environment, thrift stores can save you money while offering a huge selection of products and a fun shopping experience. If you take precautions when selecting and cleaning your finds, you will feel good about your choices.

Image via Pexels



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