The Deals to Look for at Pawn Shops, Thrift Shops, and Other Weird Stores

By Kyle James on 1 September 2016 2 comments

We all know about saving money with price rollbacks at Walmart and clearance markdowns at Target. But what about saving money at less traditional outlets like thrift stores, pawn shops, flea markets, and even consignment shops? More specifically, by knowing what items at these stores provide the best value, you can really save money — and even make money — if you're looking to turn a quick profit. Here are the items to keep a keen eye out for.

Thrift Stores

Your local thrift store can be a haven for deal hunters as well those looking to turn a quick profit. Here are a few items to look for.

Vintage Pyrex

Vintage Pyrex is a nice way of saying "old," as in, it looks like something found in the Brady Bunch kitchen. Vintage Pyrex bowls and containers are often at the top of the list for many homeowners looking to build a retro kitchen, many of whom don't think to shop at thrift stores. Instead, they'll end up paying top dollar for this stuff on eBay and Etsy.

Coffee Mugs

I was blown away a couple years ago when I accidentally stumbled upon the world of coffee mug collectors. Look for unwanted mugs with characters on them, especially Disney, along with logos from Starbucks, old TV shows, and movies. They often sell for over $20 apiece on eBay, with some rare mugs fetching over $100.

Old Books and Textbooks

If you're a reader, always look for older titles at thrift stores and pay pennies on the dollar. If you're looking to turn a profit, look for first editions and autographed copies as well as textbooks. Parents will often dump their kid's old textbooks at the local thrift store rather than try to sell them. A great way to determine if a textbook has any value is to enter the ISBN via the Abe Books website while you're standing in the aisle. If it does have value, Abe Books will actually buy it from you and let you ship it to them for free via FedEx.

Vintage Ball Mason Jars

Similar to Pyrex, vintage Ball Jars are a hot commodity these days, with some fetching over $15 apiece. The best way to determine the age of a jar is to examine the Ball logo as it has changed many times over the past 130 years.

Old Video Games

Always keep an eye out for old video games, especially from Nintendo and Atari, as some are very rare and worth thousands of dollars. In particular, the Atari 2600 games like Air Raid and ET have both sold for over $1,000 in the past year on eBay. While games that are valuable will be hard to find at a thrift store, you can certainly find some great deals on newer games.

Consignment Shops

Due to the nature of consignment shops, it's often hard to find a hidden gem, as most sellers are trying to maximize their profits. But there are several items that you can typically find that'll save you a ton of money.

Wooden Furniture

You can often score a great deal on solid wood furniture at consignment shops. This is especially true if you know how to finish furniture yourself with stain and polyurethane. Unfinished wood furniture is typically 30%-40% less than the finished variety.

Brand Name Clothing

Folks regularly empty out their closets and sell their gently used name brand threads via consignment shops. Spend the time looking through the racks for your size and you can easily save 50%-75% compared to full retail. Also, with many retro styles coming back into fashion, consignment shops make for a great place to stock up on the cheap.

Baby Gear

One person's junk is another person's treasure. That could not be any truer than with unwanted strollers, cribs, pack 'n plays, and baby swings. Find name-brand baby gear at consignment shops for 30%-40% less than retail. You'd be crazy to pay full price without checking your local shop first.

Pawn Shops

Due to a popular TV show, pawn shops in recent years have gotten the reputation of only selling expensive memorabilia and ancient artifacts. In reality, you can find some great deals on everyday items. Here's what you should check out.

Tools

Pawn shops are a great place to shop and save on hand and electric tools. Surprisingly, most pawn shops I have visited have an excellent selection of name brands, and they are usually are in great condition. There's no sense paying full price for a tool you're only going to use once or twice. Plus, once you're done with it, you can sell it at a garage sale for close to the same amount you paid.

Bikes

Buying a name-brand bike from a pawn shop can save you a large chunk of change. Most pawn shops typically have a nice selection of different sized bikes. Before you make a purchase, make sure you're not buying a stolen bike by running the Frame ID or Bike Code through the database at Bike Register.com.

DVDs

For the same money it costs to rent a movie from iTunes or Amazon, you can buy the actual DVD from your local pawn shop. Most shops are often stacked with unwanted DVDs and they're practically giving them away.

Video Games

I recently stopped by my local pawn shop and was surprised to find hundreds of Nintendo Wii games, with most prices at $10 or less. Many of the titles were released in the past couple years. All sales were final so be sure to examine the disc for scratches. They also had a screaming deal on a couple Wii systems that were guaranteed to work.

Flea Markets

If your community hosts a weekly flea market, it may just be a good time to revisit it and look for deals on these specific items. Also, be ready to haggle at the flea market as most sellers price their wares higher than their hoping to sell them, knowing most savvy shoppers will negotiate the price down.

Kitchen Stuff

Think glassware, plate sets, silverware, and even kitchen gadgets. You can often find quality brands like Oneida, Pfaltzgraff, OXO, and Mikasa at the flea market for big discounts.

Picture Frames

You're bound to find some interesting framed art at a flea market. You'll also notice that many of the frames the art is displayed in are of high quality. So if you need some new frames, it's often worth it to buy the picture and use the frame only. I'll often find quality wooden frames for 50% less than what I'd pay at stores likes Michaels or Aaron Brothers.

Sterling Silver

Also, keep an eye out for sterling silver when you're shopping at a flea market. The absolute best way to determine if something is sterling, or silver-plated, is to look for tarnish, which is a thin layer of corrosion that forms. It typically means the item has silver in it and the tarnish can be easily cleaned off with the proper cleaner. Always haggle down the price, start at 25% off and be prepared to meet in the middle.

What bargains do you find at these unconventional shopping outlets? Share with us!

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Guest's picture
Guest

These stores aren't 'weird', they're great! :)

Silver. To test if it's real, don't look for seals,or 925 (they can be faked)
rub the silver on your clothes for a few seconds. Sniff. Real silver has
a metallic odor. I learned this years ago at flea markets when I bought silver.

Guest's picture
Michelle

When testing to see if something is real silver, always bring a clean white cloth with you, and put a small dab of toothpaste on it, if u rub the section that has the toothpaste on the jewelry and you see any black on you're cloth than its silver. They DO FAKE THE 925 PRINT SOMETIMES, I LEARNED THAT THE HARD WAY, AND IT'S VERY DISAPPOINTING.