Don’t Buy These at the Thrift Shop

Who loves a bargain? Everyone does! But it’s only a bargain if you get a great deal on something you actually need—and if that item doesn’t cost you more in the long run than it would to buy it new. A penny saved is not always a penny earned.

Repurposing items has its benefits: it’s good for the earth (less stuff in landfills), it saves money, and it can be fun. If you love a great flea market, thrift shop or garage sale, you are in good company. While you’re shopping and saving, keep in mind a few tips on what not to buy used.

Don’t buy what you won’t celebrate.

Don’t buy something just because it’s there, no matter how cool it looks. I was in one of my favorite thrift shops this week and came across some artsy coasters. I immediately picked them up, thinking, “These are nice.” Yes, they were nice. And that’s about it. They were not spectacular, or collectible, or destined to make money on eBay. They were o.k. The thing is, I didn’t love them, and I wouldn’t rush to share a photo of them on Pinterest. I wanted them because they seemed like a good deal—probably 90% less than I would pay for the same coasters new. But here’s the thing: I didn’t need them.

I wondered, for a minute, if I have any coasters in my storage unit. I probably do… there’s an avalanche of stuff in there. The fact that I don’t have any in my home means, to me, that coasters are not a big priority in my life. Even $5 for four of them was a bad deal. I set them down and went off to look for a real treasure.

Don’t buy things that could have bugs in them.

No, I’m not talking about a tiny recording device stuck in a lampshade. When I say “bugs,” I’m referring to bedbugs. Over the past few years, a bedbug epidemic has emerged in the United States, Europe and Australia. Anything that’s fibrous can hold bedbugs. Do not buy used: mattresses, pillows (including decorative pillows), stuffed animals and crib bumpers.

Don’t buy used items that could hurt you.

It sounds so obvious, doesn’t it?

Bike helmets. When you are looking at a bike helmet for $10, it seems like a great deal. However, it’s impossible to tell at first glance whether a bike helmet’s insides are still intact. Hey, your head is precious, and it deserves a full, new, intact helmet to protect it.

Used shoes. Shoes may seem innocuous enough, but shoes that have already been worn could be filled with all sorts of bacteria. Unless the tags are on and the shoes are connected by a plastic loop, move along.

Home appliances. Any used item that plugs into an electrical outlet has the potential to be a hazard. This doesn’t mean that every lamp at every thrift shop is doomed to the landfill… just ask if you can plug it in and try it out before you buy.

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Skipping over what you don’t need, and what could actually hurt you, frees you up to shop for used, vintage and antique items that will find a new and happy home with you. Happy bargain hunting!

Conna Shannon

Conna Shannon

Conna is a writer, editor and aspiring filmmaker. She's into DIY, upcylcing and macrobiotic cooking. She lives in Monterey, California, with a yellow lab named Daisy.
Conna Shannon

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