How To Find Vintage Items at Thrift Stores to Resell
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
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
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
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
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.
- Selling 'Vintage' Items on Amazon Compared to eBay
With sellers already thinking about the ramp up to the holiday selling season (some folks would say it really starts with back-to-school time), there was an interesting discussion in one online group about selling vintage items on Amazon vs. eBay.
- Forum Topic - Selling vintage on Etsy vs Ebay vs Amazon
Read forum posts on Etsy by sellers of vintage items.
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!