I will admit, there was a time when I hated that my mom shopped at Goodwill and other thrift stores. She didn’t do it out of necessity, she is just a frugal shopper – which is why she and my dad are debt-free when they started off with nothing! I wish I could be more like her but alas, the spender in me wins out more often than it should, especially when it comes to eating out! But now that I am older and in charge of my family’s money, I love thrift store shopping and there are now items that I never buy anywhere else. Use these tips to help you save money, too!
Items You Should Buy at Thrift Stores
1. Dishes and Cookware
This is a broad category but I firmly believe you should buy all of your dishes and cookware from thrift stores. In particular:
Cast Iron – we love cast iron at our house and use it almost exclusively on the stove top. Some of the pieces we have found have needed some major TLC, but with a little elbow grease they became good as new. My hubby is excellent at seasoning the pans and takes great care of them.
Pie and Cookie Plates – pick these up so that when you gift a food item you don’t have to worry about getting your dish back! Plus, they look so much nicer than a disposable pan. This totally changed our gift-giving as we love to gift home baked goods and now they can look as nice as they taste.
Casserole Dishes – We pick these up pretty much for the same reason as the pie and cookie plates. We do a lot of pot luck dinners and if the dish goes missing or someone would like to take the rest home, it’s no biggie to give up the dish.
Vintage Pyrex or Corningware – I love both Pyrex and Corningware and the vintage versions to me are actually better. Most older Corningware can be used on the stovetop but not most newer versions! You can find some great pieces at thrift stores to add to your collection.
Copper Pots and Pans – my husband adores copper and the set we wanted was WAY out of our price range (and that was even before we had kids!) but we have found many copper pieces in great condition at thrift stores for a fraction of the cost! Just like cast iron, you may have to put a little work into a copper piece, but it is totally worth it.
2. Wooden Cutting Boards
Wooden cutting boards are one of those things that just gets better with time. We always had several of those cheapy plastic ones but you can get a really nice wooden cutting board at a thrift store for the same price! Wood is really, in my opinion, the best cutting board material out there and it stays beautiful even when you use it regularly. Wooden bowls are awesome, too!
3. Sheets and Blankets
You can score some amazing cheap fabric if you can find nice sheets in good condition. I use all the sheets and blankets I pick up for crafts (have you seen how expensive fabric is at the store lately??) but I have bought crib sheets for the kids and nice cotton blankets for the home from thrift stores. Just take them home and run them through the washer on hot or sanitary and they are good to go. I wouldn’t buy anything thick with a layer that could trap any nastiness, but a thin sheet or blanket will be fine.
4. Picture Frames
I used to pick these up at the Dollar Store but those are always plastic and super cheap quality. Now I always get my picture frames at thrift stores – you can easily paint or stain them and they are better than new! You can also often find some great decor items in the same section if you don’t mind a little DIY.
My kids love going to the thrift store – and we often come home with a new toy or two. I love it when my kids take an unwanted toy home and it gets hours and hours of use. Since we have four boys we often find vehicles (fire trucks, airplanes, boats, cars, etc) that the boys love and are usually never more than $4 even for a huge aircraft carrier that we found. Usually they are only a dollar or two and I don’t mind picking them up for that price. Plus, we practice toy rotation so we don’t get overwhelmed with how many toys are in the house at one time (we have a small house!). I would not recommend stuffed toys or things that can’t be easily cleaned, however.
6. Wooden Furniture
We have scored some amazing wooden furniture pieces at thrift stores. Often it just needs a new coat of paint or some other minor alteration to give these pieces new life! Turn an armoire into a pantry storage unit, or convert an old entertainment center into a play kitchen – and I love this armoire turned yarn storage! I haven’t been so lucky with any kind of upholstered furniture (usually they have an off smell) but wooden pieces are a yes!
In our house we love to read. Books at thrift stores are so inexpensive, often just a dollar, and then there is no guilt when you pass them on after you have read them. You can find some really good books, too, often recent ones. We like to pick up books for our kids at thrift stores. There are some really great ones that people get rid of because their kids get too old for them!
8. Baskets and Trays
If you like to organize with baskets or wooden trays then the thrift store will be your best friend! Why spend a ton at retail stores when you can score these babies for a buck or two at your local thrift store?? You get the same look for a LOT less! We also liked the wooden trays for our kids. The oldest two went to a Montessori school when they were younger and I like the way they use trays to contain an activity (they call it “work). Thrift stores saved me a ton!
So, there are my top 8 items you should buy at thrift stores – anything else you always buy that didn’t make my list? Be sure to download the FREE thrift store shopping guide and leave a comment below!