Unexpected Items to Look for When Thrift Shopping (& Things to Avoid!)

published Oct 5, 2016
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(Image credit: Emily Billings)

Never sure what to snatch up when you’re out thrifting? Or what to put back down? With so much STUFF to see (and potentially purchase) when you’re out second-hand shopping, it can be tough to make the best buying decisions. While everyone’s decor needs are different, it never hurts to hear what the experts are always on the hunt for (and what they would never take home). Jessica Cook is a vintage seller (her Etsy shop is called Houseworking) and lives in a stylish home we’ve toured. In this post she shares the items that catch her eye. (They just might be things you always want to look out for, too!)

Vintage pottery:

I’m a complete nut for vintage pottery — interesting, handmade pieces (both decorative and functional) pretty much always end up in my basket if they’re the right price.

(Image credit: Emily Billings)

Dishware and servingware in a color palette that goes with your home:

In the kitchen, we have an eclectic mix of handmade bowls and plates, which I’m always picking up in blue, brown, and white tones.

(Image credit: Emily Billings)

Interesting flatware and wooden spoons:

Our flatware is all mid-century with teak handles, so I’m always rummaging through the cutlery bins (carefully…) looking for random pieces to add. And I love old wooden spoons!

(Image credit: Emily Billings)

Woven or unique textiles:

A big pile of textiles will always suck me in; woven blankets, tea towels, random scraps of fabric that I can turn into pillows. I will always buy a Hudson Bay or Pendleton blanket if it’s a good price. In New England, you can never have a shortage of good wool blankets!

Art and design books:

I also always buy art books about interesting artists or subject matter – most of the books in my home have been found for just a couple of dollars. And books about ’70s and ’80s interior design.

(Image credit: Emily Billings)

If it sounds like Jessica is on the lookout for a wide variety of things, she is! While not everything on the list above may make it to your always-buy shopping list, you should definitely make sure that the things below don’t!

Two things Jessica avoids buying:

Smelly rugs and blankets:

Deep smells in rugs and blankets sometimes keep me from purchasing (because the cleaning cost can be prohibitive)…

Obviously moldy things:

…and I don’t buy furniture or books that have obvious mold and mildew issues. Other than that, pretty much everything is fair game!

Thank you, Jessica!

→ See more of Jessica and Ryan’s gorgeous home in their house tour.

→ More thrifting advice from Jessica: