Found It? Buy It: ALWAYS Snap Up These 8 No-Regret Items At Garage Sales, Flea Markets and Thrift Stores

published Jul 18, 2014
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(Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)

One of our favorite warm-weather activities is browsing for second-hand treasures. We’ve made some mistakes to be sure, but we’ve never regretted taking home these eight items and neither will you.

1. Cast iron — The beauty of cast iron is that it only gets better with age. The vintage version is not only super collectable, but also more valuable come cooking time thanks to its hard-earned patina. And since it’s practically indestructible, you’d be crazy to pass up cast iron at a bargain.

2. Solid wood furniture — Every Before & After aficionado knows: the key to a great makeover is quality, deep down. In perfect shape, veneers are fine, but solid wood will always treat you right. If it’s a steal, don’t leave it behind.

3. Tools — New, quality tools cost a pretty penny but since they last forever, finding them used is quite a coup. Already have your own forever set? Gift them to someone just starting out and make their day.

4. Jewelry — The path to success (and avoiding disappointment) when sorting through a tray of thrift store jewelry is to buy only what you love, not what you think might be valuable. Vintage costume jewelry is a great budget splurge only if you’ll wear it or give it away, and if some of those stones happen to be real, well, lucky you.

5. Kids’ toys — Chances are you know a kid or two who’d love a new, old toy (especially at a bargain price). Skip plush, furry animals in favor of materials that can take a cleaning like wood, plastic and metal. Look for legos, blocks or train sets, hardy toys made to stand up to rough treatment by little hands.

6. Picture frames — Look past the ugly thrift store art to the true gem: the frame. Most thrift stores are as well stocked on sizes and styles as any frame store I’ve ever seen (and they’re usually under $10). Remember, if you’re at all handy, frames are incredibly easy to paint.

7. Leather bags — This thrift store staple is always a fun score. Lived-in leather only gets better and better so getting it at a major discount is a win-win.

8. Plates, glasses and silverware — If it’s dishwasher-friendly then we feel perfectly sanitary re-using (or giving away) these kitchen essentials. And if you’re partial to the collected look in the kitchen, sourcing your dishware secondhand will always make your table look layered and unique.

Re-edited from a post originally published 7.19.2014 – cm