What to Buy in Thrift Stores

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Do you wonder what to buy in thrift stores?  I’m going to help you embrace the dusty, disorganized, tattered, and torn and find treasures.

What to buy in a thrift store pn | Country Design Style | countrydesignstyle.com

I walk into a dress store and wander, browse, and I become lost at what to buy. Is this dress last season or too young for me. I think I’m an old season. 👵
Then I walk into a thrift store and hold onto my pocketbook!!!!
I’m going shopping!!!

I have departments that I head straight for in my favorite local thrift shops. Books are first, then frames and a scroll through dishes and furniture. Last I visit hardware and tools. I visit all departments except clothing unless there’s a need for a pumpkin or tent sweater.

And I shop with a list.

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What I buy in Thrift Stores – and the projects created.

Cloth-covered books

You can tell an old book by its cover. Old books have cloth or leather. I grab books with the texture of the woven fabric. Remember to peek behind any paper dust jackets.

Did you know most thrift stores will toss books if pages are missing or marked with crayons? Yep, these might be free books that are perfect for saving from the landfill for all your old book projects. If not free, at least way cheaper than old bookstores.

tattled books

Above, I removed the covers {or in most cases, finished removing the barely on covers} and tie twine around them. The shabby books are fun vintage-style decor to display on the mantel or home office.


gray frames layered

Thrift stores are an excellent source of frames. They are usually in great shape and about 90% cheaper. A bit of paint or sanding and the decorating possibilities are endless. Collect your favorite photos and make a layered frame for your walls.

green wood frame

Wood and Metal Boxes

stack of toolboxes

Old toolboxes and suitcases are perfect for organizing craft supplies, storing extra linens, and using them as side tables. A toolbox makes a beautiful entertaining box! Click to see mine on the front porch. 

old wood step

This old wood step was not found in a thrift store but in my aunt’s garage. It almost made a thrift store or home auction, but I grabbed it in time. My grandfather made it for my grandmother. Love!

If you need to learn what to buy in thrift stores, wood boxes are a must!

What to buy in thrift stores
four stacked boxes

Wood boxes and crates are plentiful in thrift shops everywhere. These are my favorite finds. One of them serves double duty as a farmhouse sign. You wouldn’t believe how it looked when I found it.

Clocks or your passion

vintage clocks

When I was seven years old, dad gave me an old clock to take apart and look where that took me too! A life of taking things apart and making something else. I love the old clock faces.

Clock face | Country Design Style | countrydesignstyle.com

Above a clock that doesn’t keep time and broken clock pieces. Do a search on Pinterest for clock face projects, and you’ll be looking for clocks in your thrift store! 🙂

Lamps and chandeliers

light with spindle middle

If you’re buying electrical things at the thrift store, I suggest having them checked out by an electrician.  Unless your plans are like mine, you’re stripping the wires out and using candles.  Above my thrift store, the chandelier has become a “candle-lier.”

Plus, thrift store lighting is fun to take apart and recreate something else…

Thrift Store Lamps and Chandeliers | Country Design Style | countrydesignstyle.com

Above are two thrift store lighting treasures I’ve never blogged about or shared on the website.  

The one on the right was a table lamp.  Again the wires were removed, and the harp that held the lampshade was removed.  A cap that holds small globes on chandeliers was screwed on the threaded rod.  Most lamps have a long rod that runs through the middle and holds the lamp parts in place.  Then a tiny globe was added to hold a candle.  My dad made the lamp candle holder.  When selling locally in California, my dad made about 20 of these lamp candle holders.  He brought them over, and I painted them shades of white and cream.  They all sold except for this one that I kept for us.

The wrought iron chandelier on the left was a hanging light until I added a lamp base.  I stripped the wires out, added candle cups & now have candlelight.  It’s fun for a picnic or buffet table.


three dark candlesticks

Candlesticks are plentiful on dusty shelves of thrift stores. I haven’t painted these candleholders…yet! When I do paint them, this is the paint I buy for my thrift treasures.


pile of white dishes

I enjoy collecting white dishes to mix and match. The better tableware I use on the dining table. But don’t pass up the chipped and stained white plates and bowls for your craft room.


three stacked trays

You can find a tray in almost any shape and size in a thrift store — clean wood trays with mineral oil before using them. Or paint them to fit your decor. Try this simple trick to turn a tray into a Lazy Susan quickly.

Flower vases

thrift shop vases

Here is my favorite inexpensive tip for enjoying fresh flowers around your home. Have on hand 5 to 7 different sizes of thrift store vases. At the grocery, grab a big mixed bouquet. Then separate the flowers by color, adding them to the different vases. Display around the house or in a group.


what to buy in Thrift Stores | Country Design Style | countrydesignstyle.com

My favorite find that’s popular in thrift stores is step stools

This item didn’t come from a thrift store, it was my grandma’s. But, step stools are common finds in thrift stores. This one has become my bookcase in my shabby crafty room.

If you like this, pin it for later.  Thank you!

What’s your favorite thrift shop find?

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  1. I saw one idea on Pinterest where someone used one to display old handkerchiefs.

  2. Oh I hate shopping for clothes. But thrift stores are just pure heaven!

  3. Shirley Howald says:

    I LOVE my circle of thrift stores!
    Do you have any ideas of how to repurpose wooden spoon holders? There are ALWAYS tons of them in my stores, but I can’t think of anyway to repurpose them that make sense. I’d love to hear your ideas!


    1. I saw one idea on Pinterest where someone used one to display old handkerchiefs.

  4. Love It!
    I too would rather be in a thrift, second hand or junk store!

  5. Karen Dunn says:

    Jeanette you made me laugh out loud with your first sentence about shopping. I too am lost at clothing stores but get me into a thrift store or antique shop; heaven!

    1. Lol, Karen! There’re not many women like us, but ones that are are passionate about junk! Thanks for reading along. Jeanette

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