Now I understand that thrift stores have to make money and I’m glad they do as many help support wonderful charities. But thrift store prices have definitely been on the rise and some prices now rival online store prices. This is pretty tough on small-time pickers like me and eventually will hurt the store because I can tell you, if there are 10 people in the store, seven of them are looking to find stuff to resell. If the prices get too prohibitive, many of us will stop shopping there.
And since I buy mainly vintage things, I have a small pool of items to choose from in any thrift store. I’m guessing a good 80% of the items in most stores are newer (less than 15 years old). So from this small pool of items, some I have to “eliminate” due to “wacky pricing.”
Take two weeks ago…I got excited about a few vintage things I found in my neighborhood Goodwill and was ready to put them in my basket…until I saw the price sticker…GULP! For a minute I thought, “Am I reading this tag correctly? Can this be right?”
So here’s what I found and what I would charge if I worked at the thrift store…
I found a big, clear glass ashtray for $9.51. It was nice, but nothing special…it looked a bit like this one for sale in an Etsy shop for $8.00. Nice, but not wow.
It was not mid-century cool like this atomic, boomerang ashtray from another Etsy seller. And even then this is only selling for $18.00.
Unless an ashtray is super cool, rare, made from expensive materials, has a famous maker mark or some special lineage (i.e. belonged to Marilyn Monroe), it’s not going to sell for a lot. And there are thousands (and thousands) of ashtrays for sale on Etsy and eBay alone. Actually, now that I think about, I don’t think I’d have bought the glass ashtray at any price.
My thrift store pricing for the clear glass ashtray: $9.51 $2.29
Trivial Pursuit Cards
Then I found a worn box of 1983 Trivial Pursuit Baby Boomer cards (similar to these) for $6.23. These sell for $3.99 to $14.99 online (the higher price for pristine ones). For the life of me I can’t figure out why they have these priced so high at the thrift store. (BTW, over a week later and these cards are still on the store shelves.)
My thrift store pricing for these cards: $6.23 $1.89
Then I stumbled on a vintage metal 35mm slide viewer in a box for a heartbreaking…$18.45. Even without doing research, this seemed expensive, especially for an item with limited demand in today’s digital media world. Most sell for well under $20 in online stories. I found this exact model on eBay for $14.99. This is a nutsy price and the item is still for sale in the store.
My thrift store pricing for this slide viewer: $18.69 $5.99
Paragon China “Country Lane” Bread Plates
After my Spode china debacle (purchasing nine bread plates where half were crazed and discolored), I’ve haven’t been as enthused about buying china, though of course I still look. I mean you gotta still look! And I was rewarded with these four little plates by Paragon, makers of fine china for “H.M. the Queen” (don’t you just love that?) for $5.52. Now this price I’m okay with! On Replacements.com these circa 1960s/1970s plates are selling for $7.99 – $9.99 each, so this thrift store price for all four leaves room for profit. Phew! And I think they are even prettier than the Spode plates.
Bottom Line: Be Patient and Dig, Dig, Dig
For me the bottom line at thrift stores is to be patient and dig, dig, dig through all the stacks, racks and piles. I have found things that got tucked behind other things. Or placed on the bottom shelf where you have to squat and spend some time. And of course, things get moved around the store and end up in strange places.
But despite the sometimes wacky prices, I keep going to thrift stores because I still do find some good deals. And over the years I’ve even found a few great deals. Yes, once in a while I walk out empty handed…and that’s okay too.
The time I spend thrifting: priceless 🙂
Happy hunting and do share the wackiest prices you’ve seen!