Things NOT To Buy At Thrift Stores

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things NOT to buy

As a mama who is always looking for a bargain, I’ve trained myself to be on the lookout for great deals. Whether I’m grocery shopping, buying school supplies for the little ones, clothes shopping for a new wardrobe or even looking at potential new cars, I’m always calculating the savings in my head compared to other deals. This is one of the main reasons I like to frequent my local thrift shops. They always have the best deals on everyday items that I love, especially items that I can re-purpose and use for DIY projects. DIY projects are my favorite to work on and just about every time I walk into a thrift store, I find another amazing piece that I can paint, sand or otherwise repurpose to make something new for our home.

Thrift stores always have the greatest variety of items to choose from. They have clothes, toys, electronics, furniture and more. I almost never leave my local shop without some new treasure and the best part is that I never break the bank when I go. Of course, despite there being so many great treasures to uncover at your local thrift houses, there are a lot of things that you don’t want to bring home, no matter how good the deal is. Some of them are no brainers but there are a lot of items that you wouldn’t think are bad, that you should never buy used from a thrift store. I’ve done my research and I would love to be able to share my list of what never to buy with my readers so they know what to avoid on their next trip to the thrift store.


  1. Cribs. It seems like everyones sister, aunt, cousin or best friend is expecting lately. The closer one gets to their due date the more frantic they become to find the latest pieces to their baby arsenal. Cribs in particular are usually the last things to be bought and boy are they expensive these days. This leads folks to start shopping around at discount stores and the occasional thrift stores where the items are gently used but in good shape and cheap. Although you might be tempted, walk away from used cribs. Cribs are recalled every year for defects and used cribs might not be up to safety regulations so you might be buying a used crib that could pose serious risk to the little one your buying it for. No matter how good the deal, just say no to used cribs.
  2. Car Seats. These are another great example of much needed but expensive baby items that you might be tempted to buy due to the shape they’re in and the great rock bottom price the thrift store is asking. Car seat regulations are often changed and updated and are always stamped with an expiration date; car seats have a lifespan of about 6 years. Car seats should also be replaced even after one accident and with a used seat there’s no way of knowing whether it was involved in an accident. So, steer clear of used carseats, there are so many recalls and updates on safety requirements, you never know what shape a used car seat is really in.
  3. Bike or Motorcycle Helmets. Like car seats helmets are only meant to withstand one accident so it’s hard to tell if the helmet in question has been involved in an accident prior to being donated to the thrift store. When it comes to protecting your head or that of a loved one, you can never be too careful. Always buy new.
  4. Tires. Believe it or not, they do sell tires at my local thrift shop from time to time. I’ve only seen them a time or two but they do in fact sell them. Even if the tires look to be in great shop (no cracking, dry rot, etc.) it could still have internal damage if it’s been overloaded, under inflated or involved in an accident.
  5. Laptops. Although it may seem like you’re getting a great deal on a used laptop, these machines are financially risky. Drops and spills are common with laptops, no matter how careful the previous user could have been, and can cause internal damage that can’t be detected from the outside. Without a warranty, a used laptop may end up costing more in repairs than is really worth spending.
  6. TVs. Most major issues with LCD TVs usually show up within the first 30 days or year. This means that the damage can be covered by the warranty that came with the TV at the time of purchase. Buying a used TV means there is no protecting against damage that can be found after buying it used. Often times when a used TV starts to show issues, there’s nothing to be done and even if you can find a repair shop, those repairs can end up costing way more than the TV was when it was brand new.
  7. DVD and Blue-Ray Players. The sticker price may seem great in the thrift store window but repairs to a used player can end up costing more than a new model. When it comes to DVD players you can usually get them for as low as $20 or a Blue-Ray for as low as $38 so it’s worth shelling out a little extra in order to get a new player that comes with a warranty.
  8. Mattresses. If anyone knows how expensive new mattresses and boxsprings can cost, it’s me. We recently have to replace two and let me tell you, it was not pretty and our bank account was rather angry looking afterwards. It sure was tempting to buy used but since bedbugs have made such a comeback in recent years, buying used mattresses is never a good idea.
  9. Underwear or Swimsuits. When you consider that 1 in 5 adults pees in the pool, it seems like avoiding used swimwear would be a no brainer but you’d be surprised at how many people still buy it. Used underwear is no different.
  10. Cosmetics. This one should always be a no brainer but with the cost of cosmetics always rising, it might be incredibly tempting to buy the seemingly gently used Bobbie Brown mascara you found in the makeup bin. Even gently used cosmetics have come into contact with another persons body and this opens you up to catching things like pinkeye, strep, herpes and other illnesses. When you think of what you could potentially come into contact with, it’s just not worth it to buy used cosmetics.
I love shopping at my local thrift stores and often come away like a bandit with many great finds. Thanks to my research though now I know a short list of what to stay away from, no matter how good the deal might seem. I hope I’ve always helped my fellow thrift store shoppers and that your next visit to your local thrift store might be more beneficial because of it!