Contributed by Cheyenne Bell
If you’ve known me for more than five minutes, you know that I LOVE discovering awesome things to buy at thrift stores. Like, I’m obsessed with thrift stores, antique stores, junk stores…you name it, if it has something to do with shopping for used treasures, I’m all for it.
I think I caught the bug when I moved into my first place and realized that I could furnish it for pennies on the dollar with thrift finds.
Since having kids, however, I have taken my thrifty ways to a whole new level.
In case you haven’t heard, kids are expensive. And they grow like weeds. As much as I would love to spend hundreds of dollars every month on clothing and toys for my kids, it’s just not going to happen.
And, let’s be honest, even if I had a money tree growing in my back yard, I still wouldn’t pay full price for kid’s clothes (have you seen those prices?!). But because it is socially unacceptable for my kids to run around naked all the time, I had to find a way to clothe them for cheap.
Do you see where I’m going with this? You got it. Thrift stores for the win!
And there are so many other things you can find for your home or kiddos at your local thrift store. Here are the top five things I look for while thrifting:
What to Buy
I am a lover of books and my kids are quickly following in my footsteps. The only way I can support our collective book habit is by buying them at thrift stores.
Most of the books I find for me are in great condition, and every now and then I find brand new books (even newly released books!) for $0.99 to $1.99 a piece.
When you find a book you like, just be sure to flip through it to make sure no pages are torn. And when looking for kids books, make sure the binding is still good and definitely check the pages for tearing, coloring marks or other toddler graffiti.
I can’t tell you how many times I have found brand new Disney or Veggie Tales movies at the thrift store for less than $5 a pop. They also have video games and a lot of kid-centered music DVD’s. Most of the time they are in great shape, but make sure you are able to examine the actual disc before you buy.
When it comes to thrifted toys you have to be a little more particular. Inspect the toys thoroughly to make sure all buttons, levers, etc. are still working. Make sure all parts are there.
If the toy takes a battery but it’s dead, you may just have to take the risk that it won’t work with fresh batteries. But at a fraction of the cost of the same toy at Target, for me, the risk is worth it. Granted, I always give each toy a thorough wipe-down with a disinfectant before giving them to my kids.
4. Kid’s clothes and shoes
This category has been a HUGE money saver for me. Almost all of the clothes and shoes I buy my kids are from thrift stores or garage sales. It is not uncommon to find brand new or excellent condition clothes and shoes for a dollar or two per piece.
I consistently find brand name (Gymboree, Stride Rite, Jack & Janie) stuff in fabulous shape, some with tags still on!
Even if I do find them new, I’m sure to wash everything before my kids wear them. It just makes me feel better.
5. Home goods
I’ve bought some amazing lamps, art, and decor from thrift stores. I’ve been able to decorate two nurseries and a playroom with wood furniture, shelves, bins and decorative items.
If you’re a creative type, there are loads of things you can repurpose at thrift stores. I’ve also found thrift stores to be treasure troves for craft supplies and fabric!
What to Avoid
As obsessed with thrifting as I am, I do draw the line at some things. Here are a few things you should definitely avoid buying used:
To put it bluntly: bodily fluids and bugs. You just never know what kinds of things may be living in used pillows or what kinds of accidents may have occurred on that comforter.
2. Upholstered furniture
Kind of the same concept as bedding; you just never know where that small stain came from or what kind of tiny critters may have made it’s home in the stuffing of that couch. Just think of all the things your kids have done to your upholstered furniture.
There are federal safety regulations regarding cribs and they are constantly evolving and changing. Finding a used crib may seem like a steal, but if you’re not 100% certain it’s safe, it’s not a risk you should take.
4. Car seats
Like cribs, car seats must meet strict standards that change often. Further, you never know whether a used car seat has been in a collision and whether it’s structural integrity has been compromised. Don’t risk your kids’ safety by buying a car seat used.
5. Metal and non-stick cookware
A lot of times when you find metal cookware at a thrift shop, it’s because it’s past its prime. If you use it, you risk baking rust and/or other metals into your food.
As for non-stick cookware, the coating breaks down over time and can leach harmful chemicals into your food. You’d be better off spending a few more bucks at Wal-Mart on a set of new cookware.
If you’ve never tried thrifting and you have expensive, growing children in your house or you want to furnish/decorate a room on the cheap, now’s the time to check out your local resale shops!
Print out this list and take it with you if you need some guidance, but definitely give it a shot. You never know what treasures you will find!