Have you ever wandered through a Goodwill or Salvation Army thrift store and wondered, “Is this thing valuable?”
Whether something is valuable sentimentally or not, here are some tips on how to tell if something is worthwhile and ideas of what to hunt for. You can bet your dollar the following items are worth more than what you paid at the register.
Before you begin your hunt, it’s important to establish some ground rules. Most collectors know what they are looking for, simply because they read a book about it. It wouldn’t hurt to pick up a couple books from the library that focus on what particular objects are worth. Whether it’s brand name clothes, designs, artwork, stamps or furniture, knowledge is power.
Also, before you begin, look up all of the second hand stores in your area. Ask the managers what days and times their new shipments are available for you to peruse. While going through bins of clothes or electronics, dishes or pottery check for obvious wear and tear. If something is cracked, chipped, stained or has a hole, chances are it has lost its value.
So what are objects that you should be looking for? Well, that depends on you. What are you interested in? Do you want to sell things on eBay? Or do you like to collect something? Do you enjoy shopping, or what to remake something old into something new? Whatever your reason, these are some great places to start:
- Older paperback novels by famous or obscure authors seem to clutter most second-hand stores. Look for novels that are in good condition with little wear around the binding. Many times you can double what you spent on these books at a used book store.
- Mono recordings of famous bands like The Beatles on vinyl can sell for twice as much now because new editions have been printed making the older copies more valuable.
- Barbies, old and new are valuable depending on what collectors are looking for. Are you looking for the one that you don’t have in your collection, or are you looking for a mint condition 1963 Barbie with a perfect box? There are plenty of books and guides for how to pick out the right Barbie if you are curious.
- Designer clothes, current trends or classic looks are always a good find at a thrift store. Look for tags that show few signs of wear. If a tag is faded chances are the garment has been laundered a lot, and over time this decreases the garments overall value.
- Know your furniture. If you like looking for art deco or modern chairs it can be helpful to know where and when certain looks were established. That way you know if a material or embellishment used is actually authentic or not.
At the end of the day, an object is only as valuable as what you or others see in it. So if you really love your classic Nintendo, chances are Super Mario Bros. 2 will thrill you way more than a pair of leather gloves.
Avery Lane is a freelance writer from the Pacific Northwest. When not writing about how to make the most of your thrift store experience, she also covers a wide spectrum of home improvement topics, such as guides to air conditioning prices.