- Written by Dr. Lori Verderame Dr. Lori Verderame
Many people are sticking to their budgets or supplementing their income by shopping at and selling wares from thrift stores like Goodwill, Care and Share Thrift Shoppes, the Salvation Army, and others.
On my Real Bargains videos on www.youtube.com/drloriv, I feature real-life stories of thrift-store finds, and I share insider information about how to identify all types of fine and decorative art, antiques, furniture, lamps, clocks, and collectibles.
What’s more, I show you how to put a true value on thrift-store finds for buyers and sellers. Buying thrift online or in person has become the first stop for savvy shoppers.
What you’ll need for your own thrift-store treasure hunt:
• A very good internet connection or Wi-Fi hotspot and a fully charged smartphone for quick online searches.
• Cleaning supplies for various materials: ceramics, silver, brass, chrome, wood (follow directions for easy cleaning jobs, and for items like fine art, consult with a conservation or restoration professional).
• Look for ceramic marks, labels, tags, original packaging and boxes, and artists’ signatures.
• Shop at thrift stores located in affluent neighborhoods, as the donated objects in these areas may be of high quality with name brands, trendy pieces, and greater value.
• Antique and vintage items aren’t the only items of value at thrift stores. Don’t overlook items that are considered newer, circa 2000s and younger. They can be valuable too.
If you are keeping thrift-store finds for yourself:
• Thoroughly check the item for damage that cannot be repaired. Use your nose — if you smell mold or mildew (a musty, damp smell), leave the item at the thrift store.
• If you are buying clothes from a thrift store, a trip to the dry cleaner is a must. And check out the size in the store; try it on right on site so you don’t go home with something that doesn’t fit.
• Books and cardboard can attract insects, so be sure that a used book or cardboard box is free of pests. Check toys and board games made of cardboard, along with calendars and other cardboard objects.
• Glassware is abundant at thrift stores. Keep crystal (more than 24% lead content), hand-decorated art-glass pieces, and items that are obviously from a particular era. Look around the thrift store for full sets or additional pieces to an existing set, as often times pieces get moved around or relocated in the store. When you can, always buy the full set.
• When thrift-store shopping to decorate your home, buy items by category for greatest visual impact and appraised value. Whether your category of choice is based on maker, color, era, or material, thrifting will present many options while sticking to a budget. Remember, in order to avoid clutter, it is a category that makes a true collection.
• And one last thing: If a thrift-store item retains its original store tag, it is a good item to keep for yourself.
In future columns, I’ll share tips on thrift-store finds that can be flipped online and starting your own thrift-store-flipping online business.
Dr. Lori Verderame is the award-winning Ph.D. antiques appraiser on History channel’s No. 1 hit show about the world’s oldest treasure hunt, The Curse of Oak Island. For more information, visit www.DrLoriV.com and www.YouTube.com/DrLoriV.