Frugal Ways to Know What You Should and Shouldn’t Purchase at Thrift Stores

August 17 is National Thrift Store Day, which couldn’t be any better timing. With school season on its way and wedding season peaking, you should be able to save some big money simply by shopping at the thrift store. However, sometimes the thrift store is a little too good to be true as there are some items you simply shouldn’t purchase there. Although it might be hard to decide when you should or shouldn’t purchase an item at the thrift store, these ten tips should help point you in the right direction. With this knowledge, you should be able to save some big money while enjoying your thrift store shopping experience.

1. Do Buy Clothing
Clothing is one of the best items to purchase at the thrift store. In some cases, you can even purchase brand-new clothing at the thrift store for a fraction of its original price. For some parents, it just makes sense to shop second hand. Kids outgrow clothing so quickly that it is hard to keep throwing money towards each growth spurt. On top of that, shopping second hand is better for the environment. Of course, you should be careful and check out the clothing beforehand. If it is holey or too worn then pass it by as it won’t last as long as new clothing would. Tees, jeans and even jackets are always great items to buy though, as they will cut back on your school or fashion shopping bill. However, one of the best options to buy from a thrift store is a prom dress. You won’t pay nearly as much as you would for a new dress and you can easily customize the dress to suit your child. There are many formal dresses available too, for those going to cocktail parities or even weddings.

2. Don’t Buy Intimates
Although thrift store clothing is great, you should never purchase anything that is intimate. This list includes underwear and socks. Using other people’s panties, briefs, boxers, bras and more is unhygienic and might even provide you with health problems. These items can’t be sanitized enough to warrant sharing, so just avoid them altogether. Bathing suits are another item that you should not be checking out at the thrift store. Another item you should skip is shoes. These items are nearly impossible to sanitize properly, so just skip them altogether no matter how pretty and inexpensive they are. Finally, if you do come across makeup at the thrift store, just skip the item altogether. You can get major infections from using other’s makeup. Even if the item is unopened, you should still skip it as you never know how old it is.

3. Do Buy Antique Furniture
One of the best things to purchase at thrift stores is antique furniture. You never know, you might end up purchasing something that is actually worth a lot of money. However, if you’re just looking for aesthetic then the thrift store should also offer lots of great options. You might even be able to find tables with built in sewing machines or typewriters. If you want a vintage look for your home, then you can probably furnish it for under a few hundred dollars. You should be very leery if an item looks reupholstered though, as it might contain bedbugs. So, make sure to inspect everything you plan on buying and clean everything you do purchase well before bringing it into the home.

4. Don’t Buy Mattresses
Most thrift stores will have a small section of mattresses for people to choose from. However, you should never purchase a used mattress. There are many cheap alternative options that you can use if you don’t have the money for a mattress right now. Used mattresses offer a wide range of problems. First of all, someone else has slept on them. So, there is bacteria and germs on them that you can not fully clean. Another problem is mattresses attract bedbugs, particularly because of the skin fragments and more that get left behind when people sleep. Thus, you could be bringing something into the home that will take hundreds of dollars to get rid of, on top of the stress and frustration that the critters create.

5. Do Buy Collectible Dinnerware
If you’re a collector or you love the way old fashioned kitchens look, then the collectible dinnerware at thrift stores is bound to be the perfect purchase for you. You might have to look hard for items that are worth money, but in most cases, you can find some pretty items that will make your kitchen look great for cheap. Generally, you can find some variation of fine China, collectible plates and even crystal dinnerware at thrift stores. These all make great show pieces. However, you should never eat or drink with crystal dinnerware, especially if the item is old. These items can actually give you lead poisoning. So, remember, if you purchase it from the thrift store it is for d├ęcor only.

6. Don’t Buy Appliances
A lot people think that buying appliances at the thrift store is a great way to suit your needs without spending as much money. However, shopping appliances at the thrift store can often cost more than its worth. Sometimes, the items will work for a short period of time, if at all. Usually, if you can find an item that works you’re lucky. However, there is always a risk of fire when you use these items as you don’t particularly know their history and why they were donated. So, if you really need an item try to shop refurbished or save up and purchase it new.

7. Do Buy Music
If you love music and like to collect old mediums of music, then the thrift store may be your new favorite place. Often, thrift stores have a wide assortment of vinyl records, cassettes and CDs to choose from. These items will never be of new quality and you probably won’t be able to sell them for a lot of money. If you’re just looking to enjoy old forms of music, then you’re in for a treat. Of course, before purchasing any item make sure that it isn’t covered in scratches, so you can actually enjoy the music. However, if you do run across items that are broken beyond use, you might consider turning them into cool art pieces. Pursing the music section at your local thrift store might also allow you to enjoy new forms of music too.

8. Don’t Buy Stuffed Animals
It is hard to go into the thrift store with a child and not have the child glued to the toy section. There are lots of amazing toys at the thrift store for your child to choose from, so this might seem harmless. However, if your child wants a stuffed animal then you might want to start directing their attention elsewhere. Stuffed animals are very hard to fully sanitize, so they can spread germs to your child from the moment your child touches it. Since stuffed animals often spend time cuddled up with your child, this probably isn’t something you want in the home. On top of that, these toys can hide many horrible things inside of them. For instance, if the previous owner had bed bugs then you might be in store for battling the bugs in your own home soon after your purchase.

9. Do Buy Books
Most thrift stores have an abundance of books, which is a good thing. Best of all, you can find a wide range of things there, which can certainly help ease a boring day or even help you to study a new subject. From children’s and sci-fi books to text book and almanacs, you might have to double take when you see the prices of some of these books. Sometimes, you might even be able to grab them on sale for a penny, which will help you save money on your entertainment or educational needs. Most books are in excellent shape too, which makes them perfect for homeschoolers. You may even find a few collectibles that will make you swoon over your awesome find.

10. Don’t Buy Helmets
There are many reasons why helmets shouldn’t be on your list of things to purchase at a thrift store. To scratch the surface, when purchasing a helmet, you should always find one that fits you properly. You won’t get as many options for helmets at the thrift store, so if you do choose to find one there it might not protect you in all of the ways it needs to. You also have to worry about head lice when you purchase a used helmet, so it’s safer to just not bother. Of course, the most important reason why you should not purchase a used helmet is it might not work. Helmets are meant to be replaced every five years and there’s no way to gage how old it is. On top of that, a helmet must be replaced after an accident. Although this will usually means you will see damage on the helmet, sometimes the helmet might look unscathed. So, be safe instead of sorry and buy new helmets no matter what you plan to use them for.

Shopping at the thrift store can be a world of fun, especially if you know what to shop for. These ten options will help you find some pretty cool stuff at an unbelievable price, while ensuring you don’t throw money away on items that aren’t worth buying. No matter what you’re shopping for, you’ll be helping out a charity too, which is cause enough for celebration.

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