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10 Things to Look For at Thrift Stores: Uncovering Hidden Treasures

Who would’ve imagined that thrift shopping could become the perfect fun side hustle or even a full-time job for some? 

Thrift store flipping is becoming increasingly popular, and for a good reason.

Simply gather thrifted items and resell them for a higher price; it’s that simple.

The problem is that not everything you find at thrift shops is valuable. 

In this article, we’ll reveal the most profitable things to look for at thrift stores.

We’ll also give you advice on how to make your flipping business more lucrative.

It’s time to turn your thrifty thrills into an extra source of income!

The Top 10 Thrift Store Finds

You’ll need to train your eyes to spot only items with a potential profit while thrift shopping.

Going through all of the products displayed at local thrift stores, yard sales, or even online may waste a lot of time and effort. 

To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of 10 thrift store finds that are likely to earn you extra money:

1. Home Decor

The market for used home decor has been thriving for some time and is expected to continue.

With inflation on the rise, many people are changing their buying behavior to save money. 

As a matter of fact, large retail stores like Walmart and Target are dealing with an oversupply of home products as today’s consumers prefer to buy them secondhand. 

So, to capitalize on this situation, keep an eye out for the following items while thrift shopping:

  • Picture frames
  • Clocks
  • Wall art
  • Upholstered furniture
  • Mirrors
  • End tables
  • Candlesticks

Fortunately, most thrift stores have good deals on home goods.

However, remember that the better the condition of an item, the more likely you’ll be able to resell it for a profit.

2. Vintage Kitchenware

Several kitchenware items are almost always worth flipping.

To begin, if you see vintage glassware with interesting cuts or colors, you should consider grabbing them. 

If the glasses are in good condition and free of scratches, you’ll have no trouble selling them, especially if you found them in a set. 

Then there are the antique pyrex sets or pieces that are in high demand on ecommerce sites.

Check to see if the item has classic patterns and is authentic; if so, you’re good to go. 

Finally, vintage silverware is a true hidden gem in thrift stores. Yet, you must ensure that they’re real silver by looking for the stamp or marking on them.

3. Books

Let’s just say that the secondhand book market has been on a roll lately.

An earlier survey found that more than half of people in the US and the UK prefer to buy used books over new ones.

It comes as no surprise that this market is expected to be worth $45.53 billion by the end of 2032! 

That said, you should be selective when shopping for books at thrift stores as they’re not always profitable.

Always search for textbooks, popular genre books, and best-sellers.

4. Gaming Products

Specific gaming consoles and video games can help you make lots of money.

Super old consoles, such as the Atari 2600, or limited editions, like the colored Sony PlayStation 2, are worth a fortune.

When it comes to video games, try to choose ones that are widely used.

Alternatively, you can look for retro games, such as Black Lamp (Firebird Software) and Spelunker (Broderbund). 

The good news is there are many websites that make it easier for you to sell used video games.

5. Antique Record Players

If you’ve ever browsed ecommerce sites like eBay or Etsy, you’ve probably come across the antique record players category.

They’re regarded as one of the most profitable items, but this is dependent on their build, design, and audio quality. 

Check the record player’s brand and serial number while you’re at your local thrift store to help you determine its worth.

You should also ensure that it produces a clear sound with no distortion, as this will boost its value.

Famous brands among record collectors include:

  • Rega
  • Kenwood
  • Technics
  • Denon

Just so you know, the turntable market in the US is expanding, rising by almost 10% in 2021.

6. Sports Equipment

Secondhand sports equipment can be a real money maker.

You just need to check them carefully for any flaws that could reduce their value.

You can browse local resale websites to get a sense of what’s popular.

That said, generally, equipment that costs a pretty penny is in high demand in the used market.

So opt for items such as bicycles, golf clubs, and treadmills.

7. Discontinued Toys

Discontinued toys have a profitable niche made up of collectors and parents.

While these golden eggs aren’t always available at thrift shops, they aren’t impossible to find. 

Just make sure to inspect any vintage toys you encounter and look them up online.

If you find one that was trendy but is no longer manufactured, you have a great chance of reselling it for a good price.

8. Designer Goods

Aiming for designer goods is always a safe bet.

There’s a sizable market for people looking to buy pre-owned luxury goods.

That’s why you’ll find many stores and online websites that specialize in selling them. 

Statistically speaking, 41% of consumers worldwide purchase these products because they’re either difficult to locate or are no longer produced.

On the other hand, 40% buy them because they’re a more environmentally friendly option. 

Both cases work in your favor, so the next time you thrift shop, look for designer:

  • Clothes
  • Bags
  • Shoes
  • Sunglasses
  • Belts

9. Old Cameras

Old cameras attract a diverse audience, primarily users and collectors.

Because most camera types aren’t cheap to buy new, many people opt for used ones.

If you want to supply this category, you should look for cameras that are usable and have a high resale value. 

There are also people who just enjoy having a collection of vintage cameras, in which case the functionality is irrelevant.

Yet, its brand, quality, and model will all play a significant role in its valuation.

Although it happens only once in a blue moon, if you find old Hasselblad or Leica cameras at a goodwill store, hold on to them; they’re quite valuable!

10. Women’s Accessories

We honestly doubt that there will ever be a severe drop in the demand for women’s accessories.

In fact, necklaces and bracelets are two of eBay’s best-selling items

If you were able to locate vintage or costume jewelry, you’ve struck gold.

Many women seek these types of accessories because of the high-quality materials used back then, and some like to collect them. 

Scan the thrift store for pieces with an intriguing backstory, high-quality stones/silver, or a distinct style.

These elements are what will compel people to pay for them.

3 Thrift Store Flipping Tips to Maximize Your Profit

vector graphic showing an illustration of the best things to look for at thrift stores

Knowing what to look for in thrift stores is crucial, but it’s not the only factor that’ll ensure a successful flip.

There are three other key tips that’ll help you up your resale game and earn more money:

Conduct Thorough Research

When you find an item at the shop with a potential profit, don’t buy it right away.

Instead, do some research on it with the goal of discovering two things. 

The first is whether or not it’s currently in demand.

If you find that people are still purchasing and requesting this product, you should look into the second factor, which is its market price. 

A product may be in high demand, but after deducting its expenses, like its cost and shipping, it may only generate a marginal profit.

Thus, always compare prices to see if a product is worth the investment.

Examine the Condition

Yes, many consumers enjoy shopping for secondhand items, but they don’t want them screaming that they’re used.

You see, people want to buy things for a low price that are still in good shape. 

Therefore, the condition of your thrifted items can make or break your flipping business.

Getting something with a major defect that’s irreparable will significantly reduce its resale value.

Even if you find designer clothing or brand-new shoes with a noticeable cut, it has to be a hard pass.

So, as a general rule, avoid purchasing stuff that’s in poor condition or requires extensive repairs that’ll increase your overall costs.

Present Properly

If you want to resell your thrift store finds quickly and profitably, the magic word is “presentation.”

The first thing you want to do is spruce them up so that they’re more appealing to customers. 

For example, if you buy vintage jewelry and the metal is a bit dull, go the extra mile and polish it to restore its luster.

The same is true for clothing, which may need to be cleaned or ironed to look more presentable.

Then, take high-resolution pictures of the item from various angles.

Interestingly, a study found that the more pictures a product has, the more likely it is to be sold.

It turns out people like to see different visuals of something because it helps them make decisions.

Finally, include a detailed and accurate product description so that customers aren’t left with any questions that could stall the purchase.

Never mention false information because it can permanently harm your market credibility.

Final Thoughts

You’re now up to speed on the top things to look for at thrift stores! 

Don’t be frustrated if your first few attempts at thrift store flipping were unsuccessful; in this field, practice makes perfect.

You’ll soon realize what you should bring home from a thrift shop and what to leave behind. 

One last piece of advice: use multiple channels for reselling thrift store items.

You can, of course, list them on some of the best online auction websites, such as eBay.

However, you can also sell them at a yard sale or a nearby flea market.

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