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Thrift Store Items That May Be Worth A Lot Of Money+ How To Find Them

Plus, tips to keep in mind when shopping

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Thrift shopping is perfect when you’re looking for clothing or home decor that doesn’t cost a fortune. However, you can also find some hidden gems or items with high resale value while you’re there. This could be anything from jewelry to designer clothing, artwork and more. “Wading through all of the junk at thrift stores can prove difficult, but if you know what you’re looking for—or are willing to go with an open mind—there are lots of treasures that you can purchase and resell,” says Jennifer L. Prince, owner and reseller at it’s FOUND vintage. Keep reading to learn about the items at thrift stores that may be worth a lot of money and how to find them while shopping.

What thrift store items may be worth a lot of money?

When it comes to thrifting, there could be something with high value in many areas of the store—it all depends on what you’re hoping to find. “If you want to find the best stuff, you HAVE to know what you’re looking for,” explains Willow Wright, owner of Urban Redeux. “There’s a certain responsibility of the thrifter to know their stuff.”

Related: Experts Reveal What to Avoid at Thrift Stores — And What Buys Are Really Worth It

Vintage t-shirts

Scouring the clothing aisles for vintage t-shirts is a must. Prince notes that there are a few signs that a t-shirt is vintage, and sometimes you can get a lot of money for these. She recalls finding a shirt at Goodwill for $2 but selling it for $98 because of its value. “One quick clue is that it will have a single line of stitching around the sleeve and bottom as opposed to two, but also look at the label,” she says. A made-in-the-USA label “typically denotes vintage.”

Certain brands also may be more right from the start. Some older Champion brand shirts are typically worth a lot of money along with band tees, Harley Davidson and “some obscure shirts with characters can be worth a lot as long as they’re rare,” says Prince

Original works of art by listed artists

In terms of things that are worth a lot of money, art pieces are hit or miss. You have to do your due diligence for these more than other items and understand what will end up being valuable. According to Noralen Curl, an appraisals expert for Just Answer, “you really need to be able to tell if the work is actually painted on a medium, and not a print reproduction, or a mass-produced, framed piece made to ‘look’ like an original painting.”

Check the texture and the look of the painting first. If you notice different brush strokes or a type of dot-matrix pattern, then the painting has likely been reproduced or reprinted. Curl also says to look for signatures or “tags, labels, stamps or handwritten notations that may state the name of the painter, sometimes even the title and year.”


Book stall at thrift store

If art isn’t of interest to you, books found at thrift stores could also be worth a lot of money. Curl notes that there’s a way to “crack the code” for books of high value: “Open the book and look at the information on the entire title and publisher page(s).” “If there is more than one year printed on those pages, such as 1895, 1918 then 1935, it is not a first edition, first printing,” says Curl. Ultimately, the value comes from the most recent printing year.

First editions or printings of popular titles may be worth more than you’d expect. Once you’ve checked the title pages, do a quick search for when and where it was first published. If the information in the book matches what was searched, then you found a first edition.

“Age itself of the book, or how old it is, whether it be 1600 or 1800, does not matter as much as the pertinence of the title, subject matter and author,” explains Curl. Books that are worth a lot typically have “enduring popularity of what was written by that particular author.” However, steer clear of stamped books that formerly came from school libraries as people won’t pay a lot for books from “public collections.”

Related: Want to Read More Books? Experts Share Easy Tips — And You Don’t Need to Be Speed Reader


Glassware at thrift store

Mid-Century Modern (MCM) glassware may have a high price tag depending on the designer. Prince was thrilled when she saw two different sets of glassware designed by George Baird. “I was able to pick up 10 glasses (a set of 4 and a set of 6) for $20,” she says. “The overall value is over $400.”

You can either resell these items to make a profit or offer them to others with a discount so it’s a win-win for everyone involved.

How can you find thrift store items that are worth a lot of money?

  • Shop with intention and have a slight idea of what you’re hoping to find
  • Become familiar with brands you trust

“For example, if someone is only familiar with a few high-end fashion houses, they’ll likely overlook some names and brands simply because they’re not familiar,” says Wright.

  • Focus on the items you’re interested in
  • Research online before tackling the store itself
  • Use your phone for more information when shopping

Prince says one of the best things to use while browsing is Google Lens. “It is such a useful tool while thrifting, as it easily pulls up images similar to the one you scan,” she says. “That way, you can see what the item is listed at on sites like eBay, Etsy, and others, and it’s a quick way to see if what you’re looking at is valuable or not.”

For more thrifting tips:

Antiques Alert! Look for These 5 Vintage Items the Next Time You Go Thrift Store Shopping

We Found 4 Secret Store Outlets That Can Save You Big Money at Your Favorite Retailers

How to Make Money Selling Your Stuff Online: Expert Tricks Get You Top Dollar

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