ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How To Find Vintage Items at Thrift Stores to Resell

Updated on June 3, 2014

Find Treasures Among the Junk

I'm not good at many things, but I can find treasures among the junk at thrift stores. And sometimes I resell the collectibles I find.

Most thrift stores get their inventory donated by people who figure that the stuff is still useful, to someone else. They drop off bags or boxes of stuff, and the workers at the thrift store stick a price tag on it and put it on the shelf for customers to buy.

Some of the donated inventory is better than others. Like most stuff that gets donated, vintage items are a dime a dozen, but there are treasures to be found.

I bought this 1960's pillowcase with all the mod colors of the day and sold it within 2 weeks. Here are a few of my tricks for finding vintage items at thrift stores to resell.

Photo Credit: Peggy Hazelwood

How Old Does It Have To Be To Be Vintage?

I feel really old when I see how old things need to be to fit in the vintage or collectible category. Take a look:

Etsy: 20 years old, meaning it was made before 1994

eBay: no clear date

Amazon: no clear date

Books on Selling Vintage Goods

Read up on selling vintage and retro items online. If you love scouring thrift stores and yard sales, this can be a fun way to feed your habit!

Finding Good Vintage Linens to Resell

Vintage Linens Are Abundant at Thrift Stores - Finding the Right Ones is Key

Tag of a vintage hand towel.
Tag of a vintage hand towel.

Go to any thrift store and most of the time you'll see rack after rack (or shelf after shelf) of vintage linens. This can include dresser scarves, doilies, tablecloths, handkerchiefs, tea towels, potholders, pillowcases, sheets, wash cloths, hand towels, bath towels, quilts, and more.

When checking out vintage linens, look for clues to "date" items like the tag shown above on this hand towel from the 1970s. Many young people (in their 20s and 30s) love the "mod" look of this style of bath linens, and I've sold more than a few towels in the tones of the 1970s like avocado green, orange, yellow, etc. Cool, man.

The pillowcase shown in the introduction sold almost immediately after I listed it for sale. Sometimes people use the fabric from these retro linens to make tote bags, pillows for the sofa, or curtains, so don't overlook a good piece of funky fabric in whatever form.

How to Choose the Right Vintage Pieces

~ condition: fabric intact (no large tears or holes, not thin, minimal stains), piece not broken

~ age: clues to "date" items like tags, markings, engravings, stamps

~ the charm factor: subjective criteria for "dating" and "just knowing" if it's old; sweet details; authentic look/feel

Choosing Random Vintage Goods to Resell

Even If It's Broken, It Might Sell - Broken Swiss Music Box

Music box I sold.
Music box I sold.

I sold this vintage Swiss music box on Etsy even though it didn't work. Nearly all of the parts were there and I knew from the label, that this was a sweet little piece. I took a chance and bought it, listed it, and sold it within a week.

Here's what I look for when browsing random vintage stuff:

~ condition of the item: is it clean or can it be cleaned, is it intact (all the pieces there), does it work (obviously this isn't always a deal breaker [see music box above], but is important most of the time)

~ age: look for clues to "date" items like tags, marks (engravings), year, brands, etc.

~ uniqueness: something you don't see every day, the details and charm are unique

Buying Things When You Don't Know What They Are - I've Bought It, Then I've Sold It

Vintage butter curler.
Vintage butter curler.

When I am checking out stuff on thrift store shelves, I often have no idea what things are.

Take this vintage butter curler shown here. When I saw it in the tub of other cooking utensils at a Goodwill, I just liked it. The black and blue paint sang to me! But what was it, I wondered.

I got home and looked it up online. I now know what a butter curler looks like and would buy another in a heartbeat, but I listed this guy and sold him.

Vintage Goods -- Books, Knick Knacks

Random Vintage Items Sell - Buy the Unique Vintage Pieces

Vintage bank.
Vintage bank.

I buy random stuff a lot. Sometimes I just love it, like this vintage bank. I loved it immediately. It was shiny, in good shape, and cute!

Vintage knick knacks, also known as bric a brac or dust collectors, are often one of a kind pieces that have somehow survived someone's home for 20+ years as well as the car ride to the thrift store and sitting on the store shelf without getting broken.

Vintage Jewelry for Sale on Amazon - These Things Are Labeled Vintage

Even though something is described as being vintage, always double check as best you can that it is.

Many items for sale online are "vintage-inspired" or "retro" without being truly older. In other words, that necklace might be new but looks like a vintage style.

As a seller of collectibles or vintage items, it's your responsibility to describe to the best of your knowledge the age and condition of an item.

Vintage? Antique? Where To Sell?

Read up on where you can sell what.

Affiliate Disclosure

This author, Peggy Hazelwood, participates in Amazon, eBay, All Posters, and other affiliate advertising programs. When you click an advertising link on this page and make a purchase, I receive a small percent of the sale. Thank you for reading this far!

Have You Ever Bought Items at Thrift Stores to Resell? - Share Your Best Deal with Us!

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Your kitchen and the table are bauutifel! It looks lovely. I'm visualizing simple muslin curtains with embroidered embellishments or one made from white eyelet fabric Just thinking about it makes my head spin; I can't imagine dealing with all the possibities! Most of all, HAPPY FIFTH BIRTHDAY, Z! Five already? Hard to believe One question can you please let me know what blog software you're using to make a blog on your own domain? I'd love to do the same ready for a new blog myself, and have a few domains, but I don't know where to begin. Ok, I haven't given that any sense of priority; it's easier, at this point, just to ask you. I LOVE your new blog.I miss you.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Aparceiption for this information is over 9000-thank you!

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Happy Birthday Z! My girl turns 5 at the end of the month.Love the changes you made. I have a somoth top stove too and love it. There is a cream they sell to clean it. I also use a two sided sponge. I get one that has a scrubber on one side but the scrubber is very soft and will not scratch. The one that actually came with our stove was blue. Pour some of the cream on the cooled top on the stains. Let it sit a bit, then kind of rub in with your fingers. Then you can take the scrubby part of the sponge and work at the hard parts. If you let it sit a bit it works better than using so much elbow grease. I love your floor! I wish it was in my kitchen.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Love digging through thrift stores... I used to sell books on Amazon, never had the courage to sell other stuff before, but I plan to start this summer.

    • Pinasheart profile image


      5 years ago

      very interesting lens! love it.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I've bought items and maybe later sold in a rummage sale but not with a plan in mind and I like yours. That vintage butter curler would have gotten my attention for sure, very cool...and your shop here is so fresh in the new gardening theme, nicely done and creative! :)

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      This is an awesome lens. I love vintage items. I have never thought about selling them. Thanks

    • gottaloveit2 profile image


      5 years ago

      I love thrift shops too but I'm not nearly as successful at selling the stuff I pick up. I generally end up keeping even more stuff!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I love thrift stores and garage sales. Only I search for stuff to keep, not to sell. My mom on the other hand is always buying and selling used items. She has a knack for knowing which items are the most valuable. Great lens I really enjoyed reading it!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)