Google+ House Revivals: What NOT to Buy from the Thrift Store

Monday, February 18, 2013

What NOT to Buy from the Thrift Store

Do you ever wonder if there are certain things you should not buy from a thrift store?  Here are a few things you may want to skip on your next trip to the thrift shop:

Skip poor quality sofas.  It can be really expensive to reupholster or slipcover a sofa, and typically, a low end sofa is worn, and sagging when it hits the thrift store.  It's probably not going to be worth the investment to reupholster or slipcover a poor quality piece.  Even if the piece looks "pretty good," it's likely to look pretty dumpy, pretty soon, and you will be stuck paying someone to haul it to the landfill. 

Here are some clues to help you determine if a sofa is good quality:
  • The piece should be very heavy.  If you can easily lift one end of the sofa, it probably does not have a hardwood frame.
  • Press down on the "deck" of the sofa.  Does it "give", indicating that it has springs?  That's a good sign.
  • Try to peak under the dust cover on the bottom of the piece.  Look for eight-way hand-tied springs.  Avoid pieces with sinuous springs, or no springs.
  • Check the label on the sofa (generally found on the deck, under the middle cushion).  Is it from a high end maker?
  • Try to press your fingernail into the underside of the frame.  Does your fingernail easily leave a mark?  This would indicate you are not dealing with a good hardwood frame.
  • Check for cracks or breaks in the frame -- does the sofa bend where it shouldn't?
  • Check to see if the arms "wobble".

Particle board?  Pass on by!   Particle board is heavy and difficult to transport without breaking it.  Did you know that many moving companies won't move particle board pieces?  Very often, particle board pieces are already broken, sagging, or delaminating when they hit the thrift store aisles.  And, they are usually ugly and in need of a makeover. 

Your time and energy are valuable.  Why waste it on a piece that won't last?

If you not sure whether a piece is made from particle board or not, see if you can look at the back side of the piece. Usually, backs of furniture pieces are not laminated or veneered, so you can see what the material is.

Are you sure that safety helmet is "uncrashed"?  Here is what Cleveland Clinic has to say about used or hand-me-down helmets:

If considering a used or hand-me-down helmet, never purchase or use a helmet that is cracked, broken, or has been in a crash. Keep in mind that used or older helmets might have cracks you cannot see and might not meet current safety standards if manufactured before 1999.

We want our little ones to be safe, so inspect helmets carefully.

Now, I don't want to step on any toes, but my personal preference would be to avoid used undergarments. 

Just my own very humble opinion.... (that said, I would scoop up used training pants and good cloth diapers in a heartbeat)!

Think twice before buying that used child safety seat!

Here is a link to the National Safety Commission website, that gives information and links to more information about child safety seats:


  1. Great list! Also shoes since if they are in good shape they probably didn't feel good and usually they are pretty worn. I'd also not buy mattresses.

  2. Excellent list!! I do, however, if I see them, get my Victoria's Secret bras at GW. Of course I wash and dry them(sanitize) first. There's a particular style number/size I like and they are $40 at the mall. Thank you for this awesome list!

  3. Great safety information on helmets and carseats but oh, this made me laugh too... the undergarments that is :)



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