For some savvy shoppers, thrift stores are the retail gift that keeps on giving. From vintage dresses to DVDs, toys, and home furnishings, there's bound to be something for everyone—but these 11 items are always worth the discount splurge. (Of course, you should always make sure the products are in good condition and free from defects!)
1. WOODEN FURNITURE
Looking to upgrade your particle board living room set? Thrift stores are a great place to score solid wood furnishings at bargain prices if you’re watching your wallet. Even if you don't end up finding your vintage dream piece, items that are more grandma than retro-glam can still be transformed with paint, varnish, and brand-new fixtures.
From classic tomes to buzzy bestsellers, you’ll likely spot books worth reading on sale at your local thrift store, selling for a fraction of their online or bookstore price.
3. BABY CLOTHES
Babies turn into toddlers—and outgrow their tiny outfits— seemingly overnight. We know it can be hard to resist the impulse to splurge on adorable, full-priced baby products, but you’ll save lots of money by buying basic newborn ensembles (which will likely get stained by spilled food and spit-up) at thrift stores—but make sure that the clothes (and any buttons) are in good condition and not damaged, and be mindful of products that may have been recalled.
4. MATERNITY CLOTHES
Don’t want to pay top dollar for clothing you’ll only wear for a few months? You’ll likely find next-to-new maternity outfits at thrift stores, donated by mothers who’ve re-embraced their pre-pregnancy wardrobes.
5. CLASSIC VINYL RECORDS
Vinyl records are officially hip again. Splurge on new releases if you want, but many classics can be purchased at thrift stores for a fraction of what they'd cost in record stores.
6. WOODEN HANGERS
Unlike their brittle plastic or malleable wire counterparts, quality wooden hangers last forever. They’re also great for hanging heavier items like winter coats, and they don’t leave creases or dents in sweaters or shirts. That said, wooden hangers can be expensive to buy in bulk—but at a thrift store, you’ll likely find plenty for pennies (and some might even come for free with clothing items).
Serious cyclists should probably invest in a lightweight performance bike, but casual riders wanting a convenient way to cruise around town can likely find a well-made single-speed ride for cheap at their local thrift store.
8. HALLOWEEN COSTUMES
From poofy '80s prom dresses to ballerina tutus and lab coats, thrift stores are filled with tons of inspiration for creative (and low-cost) Halloween costumes. Not into DIY-ing your own spooky ensemble? Keep your eyes peeled for brand-new costumes purchased from national retailers, or barely-worn ones donated by trick-or-treaters.
9. NOVELTY KITCHEN TOOLS AND APPLIANCES
Expensive appliances like bread making machines, pasta makers, and popcorn machines are fun, but they often end up collecting dust in the back of a cabinet. If you really want a certain novelty kitchen item, keep a lookout at your local thrift store to see if you can score a gently-used model before buying new. (Just remember to give whatever you buy a thorough cleaning before you use it!)
10. PICTURE FRAMES
While shopping at thrift stores, look past the ugly art and focus instead on whether the garish pictures and still life paintings are encased in beautiful frames. Once you're home, remove the art and pop in your own images. (Apartment Therapy has a useful tutorial to walk you through the re-framing and matting process.)
11. GENTLY-USED TOOLS
Every renter or homeowner should own an emergency toolbox to fix small leaks, hang pictures, and tackle troublesome toilet issues. Thrift stores sometimes sell hardy used tools for cheap, and you may even score products from companies like Craftsman, which have lifetime warranties that guarantee replacements for tools with normal wear-and-tear (be aware, though, that those companies might require a proof-of-purchase).