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Thrift Store Shopping: 13 Things You Should Never Buy

Thrift Stores can have some great bargains and can save you money on your purchases, But somethings you should never buy from thrift stores.
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Are you looking to save some money shopping? Believe it or not, the thrift store offers some fantastic deals that you wouldn’t expect to find. On our last trip to the thrift store, we picked up a designer Armani suit that was practically new, for $50.

However, while the thrift store does have some great offerings, it also has its drawbacks. There are some products that you should never buy at the thrift store, our you’ll be throwing your money away.

We put together this list of the top items to avoid buying the next time you’re feeling thrifty.

Electronic Goods

It should go without saying that purchasing your electronic goods at the thrift store is a big no-no. When you buy your electronics at a big-box retailer, they come with a warranty from the manufacturer. To claim on this warranty, you’ll need to original purchase slip.

Therefore, if anything goes wrong with the Electronics, there’s no way you can get it repaired without spending money on a repair bill. Sure, that 64-inch LED TV at the thrift store may seem like a great deal. However, you have no idea of the state of the equipment. For all you know, it could run for 10-minutes and then overheat and switch off.

You can’t test for things like that at the thrift store, and there’s no warranty on any electronic goods you buy. Put down the Xbox that’s going for $50, and save yourself the headache of a costly repair in the future.

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Beds and Mattresses

We don’t know about you, but the thought of sleeping on someone else’s mattresses grosses us out. Beds are a terrible choice to buy in a used condition, and you have no idea of the previous owner’s hygiene either.

The thrift store might clean the mattress to remove heavy staining. However, they have no way of opening the mattress and cleaning the inside. Mattresses collect dust dead skin cells over their lifetime. Dust mites also breed inside the bed, and they don’t need water to survive.

You have no idea how old the mattress is, or what the condition on the materials used in its construction is like. For all you know, this could be a 10-year mattress that only has a year of service life left in its springs.

Pre-Owned Shoes

The thrift store is not the place to be shopping for a new pair of shoes. Old shoes you find at the thrift store are typically tossed out by owners or donated. The materials used in the soles of shoes eventually conform to the shape of the user’s feet.

If you put on a pair of shoes that are already worn-in by the previous owner, then you could end up developing back pain. Skip getting your kicks at the thrift store, and stick with a shoe retailer instead.

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Vintage Paints and Collectables

When browsing through the thrift store, the chances are that you’ll come across plenty of antiques. We suggest you avoid purchasing any goods that look old and have paint incorporated with the design. Many older-brands of paint contain lead, and trace amounts of that can end up in your environment at home.

Old decorative plates are also another item you frequently find at thrift stores that have this issue. Avoid fancy looking plates and crockery, and stick with purchasing stainless steel and ceramics from home depots.

Vacuum Cleaners

If you decide to purchase your vacuum cleaner at a thrift store, you’re asking for trouble. Vacuum cleaners have a service life of anywhere between three and eight years, depending on the manufacturer. However, these machines will often lose power in the motor long before they expire.

You might purchase a vacuum cleaner that barely works, and has no suction power. Adhere to rule number one, and never purchase your electronics from thrift stores.

Small Household Appliances

Buying your household appliances at a thrift store is a bad purchase decision. Avoid coffee-makers, whisks, microwaves, or anything with electrical components or moving parts.

These appliances also require a receipt to claim on a warranty. The chances are that the thrift store doesn’t have the original receipt available.

Therefore, the costly repair of the appliance is in your near future if you decide to purchase it from the thrift store.

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Linen and Bedding

The thrift store has plenty of linen and bedding on offer. However, most of it will be threadbare donations from the public. Avoid purchasing linens that are cheap but don’t last very long.

If you consider that a set of linens or bedding is only around $20 from Amazon, it’s pointless shopping for this stuff at a thrift store.


Let’s not even go there.

Power Tools

Power tools are also another frequent item we find at thrift stores. Power tools can cost a bundle, and you might think that the thrift store pricing is very favorable. However, power tools fall under the same rule as electrical appliances and electronics.

The tools might have worn brushes, or the previous owner might have done a repair on the machine, and it’s ready to pack up as soon as you start working with it at home. You also get no guarantee or manufacturer’s warranty when purchasing power tools from the thrift store.

Cosmetics and Perfume

Women spend hundreds of dollars on cosmetics throughout the year. Some cosmetics brands can charge a fortune for toner, base, mascara, and lipstick. Finding your favorite brands available at a thrift store can be an exciting experience, especially when you see the price tag.

However, we recommend that you never purchase your cosmetics at a thrift store. You have no idea of knowing how long the products have been sitting on the shelf. Cosmetics have a shelf life, and the chances are that the items at the thrift store are already past its expiration date.

Never buy perfume from the thrift store. It may look like the original product, and have an affordable price tag. However, it could be a counterfeit, and the chemicals in the perfume could cause an allergic reaction.

Children’s Toys

Children’s toys are a debatable topic for buying at the thrift store. If you find some classic toys your child might enjoy, then go ahead and purchase them. However, make sure that the toys don’t have any lead paints involved in its production.

Classic toys like old army soldiers may also feature lead in their manufacturing. Avoid buying these types of toys for your kids, as lead poisoning is a real thing.

Baby Cribs

Congratulations! As proud parents, you now have to deal with the financial responsibility of raising a child. Parents are always looking for ways that they can save money on expenses. Shopping at the thrift store for baby clothes and toys might be worthwhile and present you with some deals.

However, there are a few items that you should never purchase from the thrift store, even if the price is right. Never buy your baby’s crib from a thrift store. In 2011, the federal government issued new safety guidelines for cribs in the United States. If the manufacturing date of the crib is older than 2011, then you are dealing with a defective crib.

Don’t place the safety of your child in a crib that does not meet international safety standards, all to try and save a few bucks.

Baby Car Seat

Another item that parents should avoid purchasing for their baby form a thrift store is a car seat. Car seats are expensive items, and if you find one for less than half-price at the thrift store, it’s tempting to buy it for your baby.

However, this could end up being a life-threatening mistake. Manufacturers warn that a baby seat should be thrown away after being involved in an accident. However, many people decide to simply sell them to a thrift store and recover some of their financial loss.

Baby car seats also have an expiry date. Most manufacturers will recommend that you don’t keep the same seat for more than five years. The sun’s UV rays may weather the plastic, reducing its structural integrity in the event of an accident. As a result, your child could end up sustaining a nasty injury due to a compromised baby seat.

Keep the safety of your child in mind when buying anything for them from the thrift store.

In Closing – Some Things Are Better Left Untouched

The thrift store presents us with amazing deals where we can make massive savings. However, not everything inside the store is excellent value for money. Utilize these tips the next time you visit the thrift store, and prevent yourself from buying a ringer.

Remember, most thrift stores offer final sales on their merchandise. Therefore, you won’t be able to get a return if the goods are faulty. Most thrift stores will advertise their returns policy on the door or near the till as you leave.

If you do purchase faulty merchandise, you’ll have to take the hit and learn your lesson.


Oliver Dale is Editor-in-Chief of MoneyCheck and founder of Kooc Media Ltd, A UK-Based Online Publishing company. A Technology Entrepreneur with over 15 years of professional experience in Investing and UK Business.His writing has been quoted by Nasdaq, Dow Jones, Investopedia, The New Yorker, Forbes, Techcrunch & More.He built Money Check to bring the highest level of education about personal finance to the general public with clear and unbiased