13 Surprising Gems Hidden Amongst Thrift Store Racks

Thrifting is a marvelous way of sustainable and ethical shopping. It also keeps your wallet full and your wardrobe updated. The number of thrift stores has seen a 3.5% increase in 2023 than in 2022, and about 16-18% of Americans shop at a thrift store.

While thrift store shopping can sometimes be a hit-or-miss experience, if you keep your eyes open, you can find a few bona fide gems hidden amidst the ordinary and forgery. Read on to learn 13 hidden gems in thrift stores.

Vintage Lingerie

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If you are squeamish about wearing innerwear someone has worn before, skip this section. However, there is nothing that a little bit of hot water and detergent can’t solve. And if a garment is decades old and is still in good condition, it means it wasn’t worn for that long.

Just imagine the thrill of finding a vintage chemise, satin corset or camisole, silk knickers, lace brassieres, or a negligee made out of soft and sheer material.

Rare books

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Thrift stores are a great place to find coffee table books. With a brush of luck, you might come across rare first-edition collections of vintage bestsellers. Also, if you are into cooking, you might like to look for vintage cookbooks; they will be smudged in butter or dusted with flour, so what, they will also be a treasure trove of old and not-easily-seen fail-proof family recipes.

Pretty Frames

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You can find some interesting artwork at Goodwill stores. However, even if you don’t find the existing artwork very compelling, don’t ignore it. Look closer to see if they come with a nice mat. Custom framing is frightfully expensive at Michaels or anywhere else. Find good quality frames at the thrift stores, remove the existing artwork, and replace it with your art or the piece of your choice.

Home Appliances

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As people update their homes, they upgrade their kitchen and home appliances and either show their old appliances to the recycling bin or sell them to secondhand stores. Head to your nearest consignment store if you need a blender, mixer, oven, toaster, or food processor. You can get vacuum cleaners at dirt cheap prices or spot a brand new Le Creuset Dutch oven or cast iron cookware sitting among stacks of skillets.


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While it is rare to uncover sterling silver (look for 925, 92.5, or “SS” etched at the back of the pieces), do not miss out on silver-plated goods because these items are often more expensive at fine antique stores. Once these items are polished well, they will look like a part of your family heirloom sitting on your dining room sideboard.

Collectible Toys

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From Hot Wheels to G.I. Joes, Star Wars figurines, Japanese robots, Geisha dolls, and Tonka trucks, you can find these gems of your memories past in a thrift store; keep looking.

High-Quality Furniture

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While you can always buy inexpensive new furniture from Ikea, keep in mind, they are not as well constructed as their older counterparts. Head over to your nearest secondhand store where you can find vintage wooden furniture like dressers, dining tables, mirrors, or ladderback chairs. Look closely; you can find well-made sofas hiding behind grimy, outdated fabrics. All they need is some deep cleaning and new upholstery, and they can last for another decade or two.

Vintage Sporting Goods

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The odds of finding good-quality vintage sporting goods are always high in a thrift store. Whether you are looking for hiking shoes, backpacks, skis, snowboards, hockey sticks, batting gloves, cleats, snowboard boots, football jerseys, or waterproof jackets, the chances are you will get all of these and some more at your local secondhand store.

Designer Clothes

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You will find name brands such as Levis, Calvin Klein, Gucci, Bebe, DKNY, Guess, and other top brands you can think of at Rescue Mission thrift shops at a fraction of the cost at retail stores. However, a regular thrifter told us that you might find beautiful and expensive pieces from top designers, sometimes even a cocktail or a prom dress, if you visit a Goodwill store or Salvation Army in a posh neighborhood.

Holiday Décor

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You can find holiday staples with a timeless appeal like Christmas tree stands, festive dishware and ornaments, plastic pumpkins, and other holiday décor for dirt cheap.


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A valuable antique bracelet, hand-knotted pearl or bead necklace, or a 14k gold ring; you can sometimes sleuth out the real treasures in your neighborhood thrift store. Remember, most pieces of jewelry made with precious metals are stamped. If not precious metals, 14k gold, gold-plated or gold-filled pieces, or jewelry in sterling silver can offer the look of real metal at a fraction of the cost. Just keep an eye out for intricate designs and timeless styles.

Collectible Antiques

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You will be surprised at what you can find at your nearest consignment store. A tea herb holder, a rare lighter or watch, rare artifacts, a porcelain vase, tapestries, a genuine painting or sculpture, a piggy bank made after the Civil War that turns out to be worth a few thousand dollars, and many more such valuable items are hiding under layers of dust and piles of junk.

Odds And Ends

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Even if you are not looking for anything particular, keep your eyes open as you never know what you might chance upon. Thrifters have been known to find never-once-worn Vans sneakers and Lululemon pants. Coming across a finely aged leather jacket or handpainted suede jacket may be rare, but it is not unheard of. Imagine the thrill of finding a real wool or cashmere sweater instead of one made of acrylic or a hand-stitched quilt. Or you might find a studio pottery piece like a plantar or pitcher or stumble upon a mint-condition, vintage suitcase.

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