Any time you make thrift store purchases, you are going to end up with some winners and losers. You’ll get something home to find that it doesn’t fit, has a stain, or doesn’t work. Unfortunately, thrifting bargains don’t always come with good return policies. If you want more winners than losers, you have to examine and test thrift store merchandise before parting with your money. Here is a thrift store survival kit with some items that will help you make sure that you get good quality merchandise at the thrift store.
1. Footies. If you are going to try on shoes, you are going to want to have something between your feet and a stranger’s old shoe. This means bringing footies or socks that will allow you to quickly try on some shoes.
2. Hand sanitizer. Thrift store items have been perused by people from all walks of life. Some of them may carry germs or bacteria. That’s why you should carry and use a small bottle of hand sanitizer.
3. A Mini Maglite. If you are planning to buy clothing, you should be prepared to inspect it thoroughly for stains, rips, holes, and other signs of wear. In the sometimes dimly lit confines of a thrift store, a mini maglite can really shed light on the condition of a prospective purchase.
4. A Swiss Army Knife or Multi-tool. If you are planning to test anything electronic or put together some random gizmo, you’ll need a discreet screwdriver. I like my Swiss Army Tinker for this task. The screwdrivers are perfect for opening battery compartments. The Gerber Suspension Multitool is also well suited to this task, but I’d be leery of using the pliers on anything that I hadn’t paid for yet. The key to this thrift store survival item is to have a non-threatening knife or tool.
5. Batteries. You definitely should bring some batteries. A 9 volt and a couple of AA cells should suffice. You could probably take the D cells from the Maglite in your car if you needed them to test something specific.
6. Test Media. (Cassettes, CDs, DVDs) Old stereo equipment is an essential part of the retro lifestyle. If you are contemplating the purchase of a boom box, piece of stereo equipment, or a DVD player, you might want to bring along whatever media it plays.
7. Mobile Internet Device. Finally, if you are a smart phone person, a direct line via Internet to ebay and walmart can be a godsend. Sometimes the thrift stores price items higher than new merchandise at the big box stores. Alternatively, you can search for stereo or camera manuals or read product reviews before you buy.
In the caveat emptor (buyer beware) world of thrifting, it can pay to be prepared and thoroughly examine products before you buy.
More from this contributor:
A Man’s Survival Guide to Thrift Store Shopping
A Guide to Goodwill Thrift Stores of North Florida’s Big Bend and South Georgia
Slide Show: Pictures from a Thrift Store Safari