13 Things You Should Absolutely Be Thrifting Instead of Buying New

You can save money and find treasures by shopping secondhand.
Updated May 17, 2024
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The general consensus among seasoned thrifters is that you can thrift anything except underwear. The community is split on other questionable items like appliances, upholstered furniture, and shoes. 

Despite the healthy debate surrounding those items, there are things you should absolutely be thrifting instead of buying new.

Here are 13 items to look for secondhand to save money next time you go shopping.

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StockPhotoPro/Adobe Unstable stack of dishes

Thrift stores carry all sorts of dishes, everything from ceramics to fine china. Occasionally, you may be lucky enough to find a full set of matching dishes that someone has donated. Unique kitchenware can be a fun way to elevate a holiday gathering or dinner party.


mogamju/Adobe Thrift shop art gallery

Rather than heading to a big box store to cover your blank walls, opt for a thrift shop. You may find landscapes, abstracts, or even portraits. Whatever pieces you choose will likely add charm and character, helping you create a unique style in your home. Many art pieces are already framed, which saves you even more money.

Wood Furniture

vitaly/Adobe natural wood table

One of the best things about buying real wood furniture is its ability to be reimagined over and over. Even if you find a dresser covered in a hideous shade of paint, you can strip it, sand it, and refinish it — good as new. Buyer beware, though. Real wood furniture weighs a lot more than composite, so bring a friend to help you load the pieces up.

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Natalia/Adobe Flea market in Instanbul Cucurcuma

While there is some debate in the thrifting community about buying upholstered items, if you find a vintage chair you love, but the fabric is worn, or the seat is matted, you can always have it reupholstered. Even with that added cost, you will likely spend less than you would to buy it brand new.

Home Decor

Ajrak/Adobe beautiful female shopper at thrift store

If you have bookshelves or other spots to fill with knickknacks, skip the home decor store and hit the thrift shop. You are likely to find similar-styled items with much smaller price tags. Plus, you don’t run the risk of buying the same ceramic statue or “live, laugh, love” sign.


D'Action Images/Adobe african american woman choosing clothes

If you live in a smaller space, mirrors can help make your room look bigger and brighter. Unfortunately, large or ornate mirrors can come with a hefty price tag. Thrift shops can be a way to score a piece for much less. Looking for mirrors with creative frames, vintage styles, and little to no damage is a great way to add personality to your space.

Picture frames

zeljka/Adobe Frames in Basket

While you can get cheap frames for a few dollars at a warehouse store, if you’re looking for quality wood or metal frames, check your local thrift shop first. You may have to spend some time cleaning the frames or throwing away other people’s photos, but you could collect quite a funky collection to decorate your bookshelves, stairways, or walls.

Vintage linens

The Little Hut/Adobe White linen canvas crumpled

Many thrifters enjoy sourcing vintage linens. While some people use them as intended — as pillowcases, sheets, or tablecloths — others prefer to use them as regular fabric. You can transform them into dresses, pillows, or other decor projects by cutting them up and sewing them back together. Make sure to check the fabric content and launder them well before use.


Pormezz/Adobe Modern lamp interior in bedroom

Thrift stores are great places to source lamps. You can pick them up for cheap and switch out shades if desired. Even if a lamp is not working, other thrifters say they just learned to rewire to skirt this issue. They can buy a lamp and rewire it at home rather than worrying about it working.

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motizova/Adobe hardback books on wooden table

It’s true you can fill your bookshelves at a second-hand bookstore, but you may be able to find some good reads at your local thrift shop. Whether you are looking for picture books, cookbooks, or just pretty-colored hardcover books for decor, you are sure to find an eclectic mix at the thrift store.


Justlight/Adobe intricate and unique drinkware

Can you ever have too many mugs? Mugs are considered collectibles by many people and a thrift shop is a great place to source them. If you are worried about coffee stains, you can often scrub them clean with an abrasive cleaner, white vinegar, or baking soda and some elbow grease.


kobackpacko/Adobe coats at thrift store

Depending on the climate where the coat was originally from, it may not have seen much use. A high-quality coat can last for years if well cared for. Check the racks, especially out of season, to see if you can score a gem. Multiple experienced thrifters on Reddit share that they’ve found great coats for a steal.

Natural fiber sweaters

puhimec/Adobe stack of cozy knitted sweaters

Many Redditors have commented about getting wool or cashmere sweaters for pennies on the dollar. Wool and cashmere typically come at a high cost, ranging from $50-$500 for a single sweater. Thrifting clothing isn’t for the faint of heart, though, and it can take time to sift through piles of polyester before you discover a treasure.

Bottom line

Gabriel Cassan/Adobe Woman browsing through vintage clothing

You can source almost anything from a thrift store. You may need to learn some skills to get the most bang for your buck, so you can clean and repair the items you buy. In a throwaway society, thrifting can be a great way to reuse and recycle — while keeping more money in your wallet.

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Author Details

Holly Humbert Holly is a writer who recognizes that there isn't a one-size-fits-all approach to personal finance. She is passionate about entrepreneurship, women in business, and financial literacy. With more than four years of experience, her work has been featured on MarketWatch and The Ways to Wealth.

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