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If you see these 11 items at a thrift store, you should always consider buying them

If you see these 11 items at a thrift store, you should always consider buying them
Posted at 11:45 AM, Apr 23, 2024

When searching for timeless pieces, visiting your local thrift store or antique shop can feel like playing the lottery. The age-old saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” rings true every time someone discards their gems, collectibles and classic items.

Secondhand shops rarely discriminate regarding the items they resell. You can find everything from a small jewelry box full of antique earrings and accessories to a not-so-gently used treadmill — the options are endless. Securing excellent thrift store finds has its perks.

You can hit the jackpot while thrifting if you know what to look for.  Antony Charman, antique expert and founder of Vintage Cash Cow says, “There are specific types of items that will always be valuable, including rare coins, antique furniture, vintage toys and jewelry. First-edition books are also known to be fairly valuable, too, depending on their rarity and condition, so it’s worth keeping an eye out for those.”

Read on for 11 items you definitely don’t want to pass up on your next thrifting adventure.

1. Board Games


Vintage board games at eBay

Before video games and streaming platforms, classic board games like “Star Wars: The Queen’s Gambit” and “Clue” kept people entertained. If you come across a pile of vintage or rare board games in relatively good condition, they might be worth more than you think. Before you purchase, ensure all the pieces are intact. Games to look for include forgotten Milton Bradley titles like “Fireball Island” and “Dark Tower.”

2. Rare Coins

Whether you’re a coin collector or you want to secure something rare so you can flip it and cash it in for big bucks, it’s worth paying extra attention to the loose change found in your local thrift store or antique shop.

According to Charman, “The most valuable coins are those that have been produced in limited quantities, have unique designs, historical significance or errors. Sometimes, they can get a fairly high price online, with some selling for thousands. Being rare is not enough to make a coin valuable. Other factors are whether it’s of historical significance, along with the condition of the coin.”

3. China

Vintage China at eBay

Vintage plates, teacups and other china are coveted collectible items. People showcase their fine-dining dinnerware in extravagant armoires and bring them out for special occasions. Securing a complete set can be a major score, but even individual platters, teapots and plates can be valuable to someone trying to replace a piece from an old set.

MORE: 9 vintage kitchen items that could be worth hundreds (or thousands) of dollars

4. Jewelry


Spotting high-quality rings, earrings, necklaces and bracelets is a win if you’re a fashion aficionado. Charman suggests paying attention to the metals to assess the value of your jewelry finds.

“Pieces of jewelry with the most value tend to be the rarest ones with a high level of craftsmanship. They will sometimes include precious metals and gems and be made of the most valuable metals, which will increase their value. The top three most valuable metals are rhodium, palladium and gold. Some costume jewelry can also be worth a lot of money, depending on what it was used for, too,” he says.

5. Cookie Jars


Vintage Cookie Jars on eBay

You can find porcelain vintage cookie jars in an abundance of fun and interesting shapes, colors and sizes. Some of the rare, unique and nostalgic ones can fetch hundreds of dollars from the right buyer, but they can also be a whimsical kitchen collectible to keep for yourself.

 6. Electronics


If you run into a candlestick telephone or Kodak Brownie camera, you might want to add it to your shopping cart. These vintage consumer electronics show the evolution of technology, and they’re usually worth a pretty penny. From old video games to outdated calculators, old electronics are valuable, even if they no longer work.

7. Antique Furniture


The historic story of antique furniture is usually told through the material and designs. If you come across pieces that pre-date your grandparents, it might be worth adding them to your home collection.

“The most valuable pieces of antique furniture are those produced between the 16th and 19th century, including the Renaissance, Georgian and Victorian periods, for example. Pieces made during these times are highly prized for their intricate designs, rare materials and historical significance. Older furniture is a treasured form of decorative art and can provide a look into the history and culture of different time periods,” says Charman.

8. Glassware


Manufactured and sold inexpensively and in large quantities during the 1920s and 1930s, “Depression glass,” as it has become known, is tremendously collectible. Scour thrift stores for everything from white milk glass to iridescent carnival glass to pale green jadeite and more.

MORE: Milk glass from your grandma could be worth more than you think

9. Vintage Toys


Vintage toys on eBay

If you regret tossing your old Barbie dolls, Superman figurines and toy cars, don’t worry. Redeem yourself the next time you visit the thrift store.

“A nostalgic reminder of childhood and simpler times, vintage toys are well worth owning and keeping hold of, as they only increase in value — especially if they’re in good working condition. However, not every toy will be worth money, and it’s worth noting that there are certain factors that determine the value of an item, including its rarity, age, condition and historical significance. With toys specifically, limited-edition items and popular film merchandise also help increase a toy’s value, too,” suggests Charman.

 10. Antique Quilts


Lovingly cut, pieced and stitched together, antique quilts are not only eye-catching and practical, they can also be especially valuable. These handmade blankets can easily garner hundreds to thousands of dollars apiece. They also add a rustic, homespun appeal to any bed or wall.

11. Silver


Finding precious metal in a secondhand store is a major win. While you’re shopping, check the piles of mismatched silverware, kitchen platters or serving pieces, and even bags or boxes with costume jewelry. Look for tarnish, stamped markings, and even dents (sterling silver dents more easily than plated pieces).

This story originally appeared on Don't Waste Your Money.