Everyone loves a bargain but it's not thrifty to get burned by bad merchandise! So what should you leave behind at a garage sale or thrift shop? We'll give you the real scoop.
Anything just because it's cheap
Rule of thumb: if you wouldn't want this thing at full price, it's not a good deal. A good deal has two parts: its price and its value. If something just isn't your style, it doesn't have value to you and the price is irrelevant.
Textiles that can't be cleaned
When something comes from dubious origins it must be cleaned right away. If you can't (or know you won't) clean your thrifted textiles properly, they're just not worth it. That's true of clothes AND furniture (and especially true of mattresses; don't do it!). Make sure that any upholstered furniture can be sanitized before you buy it. You don't want to unwittingly bring home more than you bargained for (like bedbugs).
Overly ambitious projects
Let's be real: are you going to scrub rust off a bicycle or replace the chipped veneer on a sideboard? If the answer is yes, then go for it. But know thyself. Most things are at a thrift store for a reason and it's because someone else didn't feel like dealing with these very repairs. If you won't do the work something needs to make it whole, it's just a waste of your time and money.
Toys are one thing (if they're washable), but many other products for kids are a thrift store no no. Stuff like cribs (which often face safety recalls), car seats (technology improves so fast, why buy used?) and bike helmets. Scary fact about helmets: they're only designed to take one big impact and you often can't tell from the outside if a helmet has been damaged internally. There's just no reason to risk something like safety for a few bucks.
Re-edited from a post originally published 5.3.15-NT