If I Were in Charge of Thrift Store Pricing…

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

Slide Viewer

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!


  1. Ugh, this is so frustrating! Even for us non-sellers! There is a thrift shop in my area that looks like a bunch of evil carnies run it. It’s filthy, unorganized, loud, super bright, and huge. Everything in it is overpriced so I never go anymore. They had a Banana Republic pea coat for $80… I don’t even think it was $80 to start with. Get right out of town. And – my favorite – a stinky, worn, ripped, old, faded DENIM sofa for $150. Needless to say, it’s been there for quite a while.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Karen, the Internet is replete with discussion about thrift store prices outdoing antique shop prices- and its here in Australia too. Our Op shops went from being charities selling donated goods to businesses selling donated goods; and with the advent of EBay now tickets reflect what the shop could expect to get. the idea that people requiring charity are buying vintage is laughable- but even those buying vintage can no longer afford to buy vintage. I buy from second hand and antique shops because op shops are too expensive.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Edwina. I know what you mean…I follow several subreddits and there is definitely a lot of discussion about the increasing higher prices at thrift stores. So sad and frustrating. Thankfully I have other sources too. Love the goodies on your blog.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I totally agree–outrageous thrift store prices. When we first started our business four years ago, we filled our cart with goodies from the thrift store but now we’re lucky to find one or two things reasonably priced. Thank God for auctions! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Yeah, they feel they have an eye for quality without training and Mark stuff up in case it is of value then figure it will move at 50% off days. Heard a stat in some cities 50% of sales are resellers or venders and goodwill wants a bigger cut

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Is it true that ALL the depression glass has been bought? Well, that sounds lame. My mom mentioned something about depression glass no longer being available to purchase on the open market? I do not know what she means but as I have depression glass that I never use, I want to sell it. I haven’t the faintest idea how? I guess I’ll see if Easy can help. Ebay is NO help, their prices are all over. Any suggestions where to sell my depression glass? Kim


    1. Hi Kim…I don’t know anything about depression glass, but I do enjoy selling vintage items on Etsy. Definitely check out setting up an Etsy store. Their fees are less than eBay and if you are will to wait for items to sell you can do well. All the best, Karen

      Liked by 1 person

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