To buy or not to buy?

While there are some things that should just be bought at thrift stores, there are also items to avoid-- and vice versa. First time buyers should be wary of certain items and be on the look-out for others.

To buy:
  • craft supplies. yarn, embroidery patterns, crayons, etc. can be found at any given thrift store for a few cents to a few dollars
  • home accessories. pillows, picture frames, bookends, etc. can all be great buys. They are very well priced and you can usually find a use for them at home, or gift them.
  • clothes. make sure they fit, are in good condition, and that you'll actually wear them.
  • formalwear. is easy to find at thrift stores and is typically in very good condition since those dresses can only be worn a few times. I've written an entire guide on thrifting evening wear for prom, mitzvahs, quinces, balls, etc.
  • books can be bought for amazing prices at thrift stores. they're great for all occasions, whether for your personal reading, for school, or as gifts.
  • gifts can be bought from thrift stores. If you hunt all year (since you know that christmases and birthdays are, in fact, going to happen again this year) you can find great gifts.  My friends have gotten me gifts so thoughtful and perfect, I didn't even care they were used or secondhand. I've done the same for my friends.
  • cards. From vintage to new, it's all there-- birthdays, sorry, i miss you, and even invitations.
  • office supplies. There are always and abundance of binders, staplers, stationery, and more.
  • cookware is often available at thrift stores. we're talking kitchenware, corningware, and pyrex. Make sure it's quality. No one wants a pot with a loose handle that spills spaghetti sauce all over the floor.
  • things that are rare. Sometimes, you've just got to take what the thrift gods have given you. For example, the complete, illustrated, vintage 1948, 10-volume set of children's stories I got for $10.
  • jewelry and other accessories. necklaces, belts, scarves, bracelets, pins, etc. are great buys. Of course, it's got to suit your style. I don't recommend buying piercings. see the list of Not to buy to see why.
  • special occasion things. you know how you always wish you had a cake pedestal for those birthday parties? Yeah. You can also get large serving dishes, pitchers, tablecloths, invitations, and decorations.
  • consistently lost stuff. certain things always get lost or broken. Like sunglasses.
Not to buy:
  • things you don't need/want/see yourself using. Pretty simple.
  • things needing dry-cleaning. Let me just say I learned this the hard way. Make exceptions for formalwear and other special occasion items. Skip the dry-clean only sweaters.
  • underwear, bras, and bathingsuits. You just don't know where other people have been.
  • earrings, belly piercings, etc. While I usually stand by thrift store jewelry buying, I don't think getting anything put inside anyone else's body should be bought by other people. Some people's piercings fully develop skin on the inside-- others... not so much.
  • damaged items. things with chips, tears, stains, holes, etc. While many of these items can be repaired, think about if it is really worth the time and effort. Will you ACTUALLY find a suitable patch for that? Do you really think you'll find time to repair that? Probably not. unless it's REALLY worthwhile, ditch it and on to the next.
  • fakes. they're just not worth it. why buy a fake when you can find real designer items?
  • the unsafe. Things like baby furniture can be very dangerous since specifications have changed. Also, don't buy anything that will be consumed. I would not trust a thriftstore tube of toothpaste.
  • Things you want to buy for the wrong reasons. Wrong reasons include: because it looks new, it's in the box, impulse buying, etc.
 I hope that clears some stuff up for all of you-- whether you are practically pro or new convert to the world of thrift.

--Harper
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