7 Things You Should Always Look for at Thrift Stores

If you are a longtime ‘thrifter’, then you likely follow a personal rule book, of sorts. Perhaps you have a strict price limit; or maybe you just refuse to consider certain items, such as outdated clothes, tarnished furniture, or old photos. Keeping that in mind, sometimes these ‘restricted finds’ are worth an extra look—even if you don’t intend on keeping them.

You see, thrift stores, particularly ones that are larger and experience a high turnover of merchandise, have been known to dole out extra good deals to their customers—sometimes without even knowing it! Unless that particular shop has an appraiser on-hand, there’s a good chance they may be selling undercover gems for a fraction of what they are worth.

For this reason and this reason alone, we’ve decided to compile a list of the most passed-over (and sometimes most valuable!) common consignment items. Here are 9 thrift store finds that could end up putting money back into your wallet…

  1. Blue Willow China

    China featuredbucs_2001 via eBay

    This thrift shop staple is not just classy; it can also be worth a ton of cash! The next time you come across a set, turn over the large plate—this is the piece that usually bears the insignia—and take note of the manufacturer. If it was made in England, you may want to consider buying this collector’s item.

    Learn more about the ABCs of appraising Blue Willow China here.

  2. Antique Mason Jars

    mason jarsFreedom II Andres via Flickr

    Since first being introduced in the 1850s, mason jars have never really gone out of style—and for good reason; these classic pieces are both functional and beautiful. Now, if you happen upon either a set or an individual piece that you suspect may be very old (c. 1840s-1920s), be sure to nab it, as some have been known to fetch up to $1,000.

    Check out Country Living’s handy Ball Jar age evaluation cheat sheet here.

  3. Silver

    silverAtHomeWithNikki

    You wouldn’t believe how many perfectly good silver pieces get donated to thrift stores, like Goodwill or Salvation Army, each year just because they appear to be rusted beyond repair! So, if you come across tarnished silver at a bargain price, go ahead and get it anyways—shining even the most ‘damaged’ of pieces is easier than you think.

    Once you have the silver looking like new, you can either display your shiny set or sell it at a higher value. Here’s a super simple silver-shining tutorial to get you started!

  4. Vintage Postcards

    vintage post cardMark Gstohl via Flickr

    Vintage postcards don’t just make great gifts; some are also worth quite a bit of cash. For instance, if you happen to come across what is called a ‘Pioneer Postcard’—a piece that was sold before 1898—then you could make up to 400 bucks per card!

  5. Vintage Dresses

    styau wedding afterSarah Tyau

    While we admit that we routinely give hard passes to a majority of the thrift shop dresses we come across, we certainly do make exceptions. If a piece is in very good condition (i.e. no holes, the color is vibrant, zippers and embellishments are intact) and it comes from a recognizable fashion house, it may be worth much more somewhere else.

    Alternatively, even if the piece isn’t commanding a lot of attention on places like eBay or Etsy, most vintage garments have withstood the test of time because they were made better than the clothes we wear today. Which means, if you have any talent when it comes to sewing or design, the attire can be re-purposed into something you love that LASTS.

    Don’t believe us? Check out what this talented gal does with old vintage dresses.

  6. Wood Furniture

    wood furnitureMark via Flickr

    Be honest, when was the last time you shelled out for a NEW piece of solid wood furniture? We’re waiting… While we can all agree that this material is preferable to the particle board alternative, it’s simply just too expensive to buy new from a furniture store.

    That’s why, if you see a piece that you like in a thrift store, you should go ahead and purchase it, even if it has some cosmetic flaws, like chips, nicks, and water stains—they are easier to remove than you think! For a fool-proof tutorial on rehabbing solid wood, click here.

  7. Pyrex

    fruit bowl pyrexAbi Porter via Flickr

    Believe it or not, Pyrex is currently experiencing a renaissance, of sorts, as collectors the world over are paying top dollar for the unique cookware. If you find an original set, preferably one that’s over 40 years old, and even better, PINK, then you could resell it for thousands!

    Just the same, custom arrangements called ‘Frankensets’, which are comprised of Pyrex pieces from different eras are also known to fetch hundreds of bucks. Definitely something to keep in mind as you peruse your local thrift store’s cookware section!

Surprising, huh?! Now, take your new thrift shop savvy and get thee to a consignment store!

We’d love to hear your thoughts on all things thrift! Have you ever come across a bargain consignment item that ended up being worth a ton of cash? If so, what was the piece? What is in your ‘thrift store rule book’?