The local thrift store, we all pretty much know where one is in our neighborhood. We may have even left some unwanted items outside the door after hours, hoping someone could get some use from them. Very few of us, however, have ever been inside of one. The fact is the thrift store can be a pretty interesting place that just may hold some undiscovered treasures.
The first thing one has to do to even go into a thrift store is to overcome the stigma that is associated with them. They are looked at for the most part as being filled with used clothes and just plain old junk, and as a place frequented only by the very poor. While this can be true of many of these places, the chance that they may hold some very valuable items might be enough to get you in the door. If you always wanted to check out one, but were afraid the neighbors would see your car there, drive a few towns over and shop in peace. The experience may just be worthwhile.
The key to finding treasures in thrift stores is knowing in which ones to look. The best thrift stores are usually run by a religious organization, church, etc. The reason these stores can be a source of great finds is two fold. First, most of the items they receive are donated by the elderly, or their children after their death. Many times these people either don’t know the value of the item or just want it out of their home. Children may also move their parents to assisted living or in with t hem and just have no place for all the things which have accumulated over the years. This is how valuable artwork, furniture, and china make it into thrift stores.
The second reason these shops are great to find treasures in is most times they are staffed by elderly volunteers who really don’t know what something may be worth. They are often most concerned with getting items out the door, raising some money, and putting some more product on display. While items may have prices on them, many times you can convince them to take less for fear they will just have to throw it out eventually.
The next best thrift stores to check out are those either in or just outside wealthy neighborhoods. These stores can be either religious group run or charity owned such as Goodwill or Salvation Army. The reason these stores are great is many times people who are considered well off will donate items just to get rid of them, not thinking about their value. These shops can be a great source for name brand clothes, shoes, even appliances.
Once you have located a thrift store to shop at you now need to know what to look for. The easiest items of value to find is vintage clothing. You will probably have to look through what seems like endless racks of what you would probably consider rags. However, among those clothes you just might find a leather motorcycle jacket, a pair of designer jeans, or even very expensive shoes. Clothes are truly your best chance at finding true value.
Finding antiques in these places is also not unheard of. Everything from furniture, to china and figurines, even toys, can be hidden treasures here. If you are just shopping for yourself then the rule of thumb is if you can get it for a good price and you like it then buy it. If you’re looking to resell it then make sure you do your homework. Learn what to look for in how an item was made or how manufacturers like Tiffany marked their work. Nothing spoils a treasure hunt more than thinking you bought something of value only to get it home and find out it’s worthless.
Prepare yourself before you go on your treasure hunt. Bring cash, some of the smaller shops just aren’t equipped to take credit or debit cards. Bring along a cellphone or wireless laptop that you can use to look up items in the store to check on their potential value. Dress down and comfortable, don’t look like you have a lot of money to spend this will help if you try to negotiate a lower price. Wear comfortable shoes or sneakers you will probably spend a good deal of the day on your feet. Be prepared to leave with nothing. Don’t feel obligated to buy something if there just isn’t anything there for you or of value.
Finally, if this kind of treasure hunting really appeals to you, become friendly with the people working in the shops. Try to find out which days they put new items out, and go on those days. You may even want to consider giving them your phone number or email address to contact you first if they feel they receive something you might like. Most of all, have fun. Enjoy the search and hopefully the fruits of it.