Since starting my No New Things Resolution for the year 2019, I’ve learned that I’ve needed to become quite resourceful in the things I buy second hand. To date, I’ve only purchased new toiletry/makeup items, a vacuum cleaner, and a hat from Nashville which was a reward to myself for doing so well so far. It’s felt pretty amazing to see not only all the money I’m saving, but to see all the things I’m able to find at the thrift store as well. Sure, some items have been challenging and have maybe taken a few trips to find, but overall has saved me probably hundreds of dollars in just under 6 months alone. In this post, I want to show you all the surprising things I’ve found in hopes of inspiring you to shop these types of items secondhand as well. The thrift store isn’t just for clothes!
Spring and Summer are the ultimate outdoor seasons – at least here in sunny California. My family participates in a week long full-family camping trip at the end of May every year, and every year it seems like there is something that needs to be purchased or replaced. This year, I went with the intention of finding some rain gear (which I’ll outline in another section), and what I was able to find was even better. Did you know the thrift store carries everything you need for camping from ice chests, to tents, to lanterns and chairs? Sure, you can get these items from the big box stores for fairly cheap, but how long do they really last? And spending the outrageous prices at the outdoor specific stores – forget it! You can get the same name brand items at the thrift store for much less. I’ve seen Coleman tents (be sure to check for all items inside the bag!), camping lanterns, TONS of folding chairs (again, open them all the way to make sure they are functional), camp stoves and of course you can stock up on all of your outdoor cookware. You can find all of these things for a fraction of what you’d pay at the store, and usually you can find much cooler looking items too. My recent find was a very cool fish cutting board (I don’t know what else to call it). It’s basically a fillet board with a big clamp on one end. This clamp holds the fish tail in place so you can fillet the meat or remove the bones – so cool, right? We fish a bunch when we camp so it was awesome to find such a specific piece and be able to bring it home for only a few bucks.
I also found this awesome crate full of cast iron cookware. It was super heavy duty and unique! The cast irons even came with zip-up covers! Unfortunately, I’m not too familiar with cast iron and it was $40 (they knew what they had here!) so I had to leave it behind, but I just know that someone else was so stoked to find that. I’ve also scored ice chests in the past. My favorite of our ice chests is actually a vintage Coleman ice chest. it’s fairly small but is in this really cute olive green color and has a great sturdy drain on the bottom. I found it on a half off sale day and paid only $2.50 for it. The other is a rolling igloo ice chest that we had contemplated purchasing at Costco for $40, but ended up finding at the thrift store for only $13. You may have to dig a little more in these sections to find the good stuff, but if you’re like me, you enjoy the thrill of the hunt just as much as the excitement of finding a good deal.
This goes along with camping (sort of), but I think can also use it’s own section – outdoor clothing. This year before camping we knew it might rain a bit. Instead of slushing around in sweatshirts and jeans, my husband came up with the great idea of looking for some lightweight rain gear to go over our clothes. Off to the thrift store I went and what I found did not disappoint. I was able to score a Jones New York rain coat and a pair of waterproof North Face pants for me (Yes! North Face!) and some Columbia water proof pants and a couple vintage waterproof overcoats for my husband. It all ended up being around $25 which is much, much less than what we would have paid for these brands in the store. Among rain gear I found snow suits, scuba suits, hiking boots, rain boots, snow boots, ponchos, trench coats, snow coats, rash guards, swim trunks and pretty much anything else you would need for any type of outdoor weather. Not only that but hello, bathing suit section. Now, years ago I would have passed over this section, but as I’ve gotten older (and maybe more desperate for a deal), I’ve actually found some amazing suits at the thrift store. My most recent being a sport suit made by Body Glove. It has short bottoms and a zip up style tank top. This may seem gross, but if you just check the crotch area for stains, you can always wash the crap out of these items to make sure you’re not getting any heebie jeebies. Also, sometimes people donate BRAND NEW and NAME BRAND items (hello, VS!), so it’s always worth a look. Make sure to check everything for holes and stains of course, but the savings you could score are endless.
Random Kitchen Gadgets
Trying out a year of not buying new seemed so daunting in the beginning. Especially when I realized that my can opener had broken. You know that annoying things can openers do when you turn and turn and turn but it doesn’t actually break open the can?? SO FRUSTRATING. This happened to me at the end of January. I didn’t want to break my rules so quickly by buying a brand new can opener so I searched the aisles of Goodwill. What I ended up finding was a Kitchenaid can opener for $3 – say wha? This particular can opener sells for $13 on Amazon so that’s an automatic savings of $10, plus I saved a can opener from potentially going to the landfill to sit and stew for hundreds of years. Other cool gadgets I’ve found include a lime press – which is actually vintage, completely metal and amazing – an all-metal ice cream scooper, a stainless fondue set, barbecue tools and so much more. Some of my favorite finds have also been a bullet blender (which I actually ended up using so much I burnt the motor out – oops), a vintage bundt cake pan and several matching marble items including a salt and pepper shaker set, a marble tray with a cloche top and marble coasters.
Seriously, the possibilities are endless here. Currently on my thrift list are silicon inserts for my instant pot, a microplane grater, and a lemon press (as the lime press is a little small for lemons). I have no doubt that I’ll eventually find these items and end up paying much less for them than I would if they were brand spankin’ new. Also check these aisles for party-ware. These are less used kitchen items you can often find at the thrift store. I’ve found adorable mason jar style drink dispensers, cake pedestals and sometimes even decorations. It may seem random, but eventually we spend money on stuff like this, so wouldn’t it be better to spend less?
We have three dogs and two cats so sometimes replacing bowls, brushes and leashes can get pricey. Luckily, we can find all of these things at the thrift store. Usually the pet items are grouped together in an area, but sometimes we find great metal bowls for food and water in the kitchen area too. We’ve also purchased brand new collars and leashes at the thrift store which is great because when we had a puppy she grew out of stuff so quickly! I’ve also found unopened boxes of dog poop bags which are great for camping and for walks – I think I paid around $.50! Sometimes you can even find unopened cat scratchers and cat toys for only a couple dollars. We don’t typically buy toys for our dogs at the thrift store unless they are in brand new condition. We just don’t want to take the chance that another dog may have played with them and transmit any sickness or icky germs. Our animals are like our children so that’s how we approach that – like psycho over protective parents haha. But it is great to be able to find bowls and things that would cost much more at the pet supply store.
Lastly, one of the surprising things you can find at the thrift store are yard games. Things like dart boards, croquet sets and even golf clubs usually get donated fairly often. I recently found a brand new croquet set that had never been opened for only $12 – it still had the original price tag at $39.99. My husband has found a brand new dart board, which is still hanging and getting use in our garage and we often see loads of golf clubs and tennis rackets as well. Sometimes you can even find cool homemade game sets like ladder ball – which I’ve never played, but it looks like it could be fun! Currently on my thrift list are bocce balls and a cornhole set, and while a cornhole set may be more difficult to plunder, I’m hoping to run across some bocce balls soon. This section can get a little crazy and require some digging as well. It’s almost like the better items hide in the back, or someone is hiding them in the back, so be sure to take a good look before giving up.
Overall, I obviously love thrifting. I love it even more now that I’m restricting and forcing myself to only buy second hand. It’s really opened my eyes to the possibility of what I can find. It’s always helpful to keep a list of things you need so that you can stay focused. You may not always find everything on your list in one trip, but it can also be encouraging to check things off as you go.
I want to hear from you! Have you ever found anything super unexpected at your local thrift store? If you did, what did you find and how big of a score was it when you found it?
Until next time,