Profitable Things to Look for at Thrift Stores with Kids

Thrifting: it’s all the rage. Thanks to its cheap nature, thrift shopping is gaining popularity with teens and adults alike. I know so many people whose wardrobe is composed primarily of clothes found at the second-hand store (myself included). It’s fun to discover what zany objects hide on thrift store shelves, and upcycling old items promotes environmental sustainability.

Thrifting is more than just a cheap method of gussying up your wardrobe, however. Because it’s easy to thrift on a budget, taking your kids to the second-hand shop encourages good spending habits from an early age. Teaching your kids about money introduces them to life skills that will help them for years down the road, like how to budget and build their savings. 

Reselling items found at the thrift shop is also a safe way for kids and teens to pad their wallets and make a little extra cash. You know that old saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure?” Well, it rings especially true when it comes to thrifting. Amidst the old flannel shirts and threadbare sweaters hanging on the rack, designer clothes and handcrafted furniture are just waiting for your kids to pick them up and resell them for a hefty profit.

But what are the most profitable things to look for at thrift stores, and how can you help your child know if something has enough value to resell? Let’s find out!

What Are Some Profitable Things to Look for at Thrift Stores?

Like a dragon’s treasure hoard, thrift shops are packed to the brim with an eclectic assortment of items. With so much variety, it can be difficult to know just what to look for. Here are some items to watch for next time you take the kids thrifting:

  • Designer and brand-name clothes. Nice clothes are always in demand, and when a recognizable name is attached to the clothes, that demand is even higher. When rummaging through racks, keep an eye out for designer clothes (think labels like Gucci and Burberry). Brand-name clothes like Vans and Adidas can also be resold for quite a bit. You never know—maybe your teen will find something to add to their own wardrobe on the way.
  • Furniture. Thrift stores are a treasure trove of fine furniture. All it takes is a fresh coat of paint and some new screws to restore old furniture to its original glory. One of my previous apartments was furnished entirely with $30 worth of thrifted furniture. Upon moving out, I did some research on Facebook Marketplace and found out that I could sell it all for at least twice that. Talk about a profit!
  • Vinyl records and LPs. Once CDs and streaming services became the preferred method of music consumption, vinyl LPs went out of vogue. However, the aversion to vinyl didn’t last for long. If you ask any music fan, setting the needle on a plastic circle is still the best way to explore an album. You’ll find vinyls at thrift stores for less than $5, and many can be resold for upwards of $100, depending on the rarity and condition.
  • Works of art. Most art pieces found at thrift stores are cheap prints or acrylic portraits by at-home painters. Occasionally, however, you can find fine works of art by well-known artists. Look closely at the artist’s signature, and do some research online to determine the piece’s authenticity and worth. If you don’t have any luck finding actual art, check out the frames! Frames are always in demand, and they fetch a high price when well-made.
  • Books. We at Troomi haven’t been shy about how much we love reading—and we’re not the only ones. Collectors and rare-book dealers will pay pretty big sums for rare or out of print editions of their favorite books. While you’re checking for rare collectors editions, keep an eye out for textbooks as well! Many textbooks are pretty highly priced (much to the chagrin of college students), and can be resold at a competitive rate.
  • Jewelry. Most thrift stores have a large accessory section, and you might find something valuable peeking out amongst the summer camp necklaces and chunky rings. Look for recognizable stamps and hallmarks on the piece to get a clue about how much it may be worth.
  • Video games and gaming systems. In the world of exciting online games like Fortnite and Roblox, you might be surprised by how much old SNES and Sega Genesis games are worth. Cartridges of the 1995 Nintendo game Earthbound, for example, sell on eBay for upwards of $2,000! The time spent playing games, however, is priceless.Troomi smartphones feature a pretty cool collection of educational games and apps that make the most of your child’s valuable time. Click here to learn a bit more!

How Do I Find Valuable Items at Thrift Stores?

So, you and your kids have dug through piles of clothes and books, but still can’t find anything that looks worthwhile. When faced with so many items, it’s hard to know exactly what has value.  Here are four secrets to picking valuable pieces at thrift stores:

  1. Do some research online. The best way to know if an item you found has any worth is to compare prices online. Online retailers like Amazon and Ebay are your best bet for finding products similar to the piece that you’ve found and can give you an idea of the profit you’re looking at. Just don’t get too distracted scrolling!
  1. Check for markings on artwork and jewelry. Looking for artist signatures and pottery stamps is the best way to know if a newly thrifted piece was crafted by a well-known artist, giving it some high value. The same goes for jewelry and books. Make sure you check for signed copies of books—after all, autographed books are worth a bit more than their blank counterparts.
  2. Look through everything. When you’re thrifting, browsing is the name of the game. It’s overwhelming to think about digging through piles of items, but going through every last piece ensures that you don’t pass over something worthwhile. Remember to have fun with it. Better yet, get your kids involved by turning thrift shopping into a game or scavenger hunt!
  1. If it interests you, it’ll interest somebody else. When it comes to thrifting, you have to learn to trust your gut. If you find a piece of art or button-up blouse that interests you, chances are high that someone else’s curiosity will also be peaked, so get your hands on it while you still have the chance! 

Make Thrifting a Family Affair

Amidst the excitement of finding something resellable at a thrift store is inevitable tedium and exhaustion—especially when you’re thrifting with a party of one. Make thrifting fun by including your family and friends! In addition to introducing your children to the world of finances, bringing the fam along lets you quickly cover more ground. A second (or third) pair of eyes will likely pick up on things that yours may have missed. 
After your thrifting adventure, click here to check out the Troomi blog for more parenting tips and tricks. We update it every weekday with fun and informative articles that you won’t want to miss!