19 Thrift Store Items That Always Turn a Profit When Flipped

Is there any better way to spend a Saturday morning than wandering through thrift shops looking for treasure? Next time you’re flicking through piles of clothing, accessories, and homeware, look out for these 19 items that might just make you a tidy profit.

Vintage Band T-Shirts

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Vintage band tees, especially those from iconic 1970s and 1980s rock bands, are highly sought after. Make sure they’re in good condition, as this, along with the band’s fame, significantly influences the value of the shirt. You can look to resell these items through eBay, Etsy, or specialized vintage clothing websites.

Mid-Century Modern Furniture

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Characterized by clean lines and minimal fuss, mid-century modern furniture is very popular, especially when it comes to pieces made from solid teak, walnut, or rosewood. According to Architectural Digest, “The living room off-the-shelf secondhand furniture market is anticipated to reach $16.5 billion by the end of 2025, around a 66% increase from $9.9 billion in 2017.”

First Edition Books

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First editions of books by famous authors can fetch very high prices. Look out for the likes of J.K. Rowling, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Ernest Hemingway, and make sure to check the printing date and number on the inside of the book. Having the original dust jacket will help, too.

Vintage Jewelry

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Stumbling across Art Deco, Victorian, or retro jewelry can be a great way to turn a profit. You’ll need to prove the authenticity of the piece if you want to sell it, so check for hallmarks or maker’s marks. Make sure you take high-quality photos and write detailed descriptions in order to boost your chances of selling the item.

Designer Handbags

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High-end brands such as Chanel, Hermes, and Louis Vuitton retain their value well due to their classic style and global appeal. This means that vintage pieces can often be sold close to their original value, if not more. You’ll need to check the authenticity of the bag by looking at the stitching, hardware, and serial numbers.

Collectible Coins and Currency

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Coin collectors always have their eyes out for coins with errors, historical significance, or limited mintages, and as a result, these are particularly valuable. You’ll make the most profit by selling through online auctions or attending specialist coin shows, and you should try to preserve the luster of the coin without cleaning.

Antique Toys

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Toys from the early 20th century, especially tin-lithographed or cast iron items, are very collectible. According to The Collector, “As the toys lose popularity, their production runs stop, which sets up, for decades later, a vibrant scene of buying and selling these icons of past childhoods.”

Vinyl Records

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Thrift stores are generally overrun with records, but you should keep a particular eye out for original pressings of bands such as The Beatles and Pink Floyd, as well as rare jazz recordings. The condition of the vinyl and its sleeve is critical, and mint-condition items will fetch the highest prices.

Vintage Cameras

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Leica, Rollei, and Hasselblad are just some of the highly collectible brands of vintage cameras that will fetch high prices. These are favored for their historical significance and craftsmanship, but functionality is important for their value, too. You could consider using eBay, Etsy, or vintage camera fairs to sell the items.

Art Deco Items

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Art Deco was a period of design in the 1920s and 1930s known for its use of bold, geometric shapes and lavish ornamentation. Genuine Art Deco pieces are highly sought after, and you’ll need to check the authenticity through the maker’s marks as well as look at the materials and details used.

Retro Video Games and Consoles

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Retro video games are big in the world of collectibles, and Nintendo, Sega, and Atari are the most valuable brands for both games and consoles. Those in their original packaging will fetch the highest prices, and functionality also significantly impacts the resale value.

Quilts and Textiles

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Hand-sewn quilts often have historical significance or demonstrate unique patterns that collectors love. It’s important to consider the condition and age of the piece, as well as the quality of the fabrics and dyes used, in order to determine its value. Etsy and local craft fairs are excellent places to sell these items.

Cast Iron Cookware

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Vintage cast iron cookware, especially Griswold and Wagner pieces, is particularly sought after due to its fine craftsmanship and cooking performance. You may need to do some restoration work, and House Beautiful says, “You should never cook on a rusted pan, no matter how clean it may be, and vintage cast iron is especially prone to the wear and tear where rust emerges.”

Sports Memorabilia

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Sports memorabilia can reach high prices, and collectors are most interested in verified autographs, game-used gear, and items from famous events or players. You’ll need to try and prove the authenticity of the items in order to increase their value and make buyers feel confident in their purchases.

Antique Clocks

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If you stumble across a Seth Thomas or Gustav Becker clock, you might have hit the jackpot, as collectors will pay a lot for ornate, mechanical clocks from the likes of these makers. You should take it to a professional to service or fix the mechanism and preserve its value, then you could sell it through an online auction or an antique shop.

Vintage Advertising Signs

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Niche collectors love vintage advertising signs, especially neon signs, metal dealer signs, and hand-painted wooden signs. You should make sure the original paint is well-preserved so that the piece is authentic, and then you can take the signs to vintage shows or sell them at online auctions.

High-End Kitchen Gadgets

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Quality brands such as KitchenAid and Vitamix retain their value well due to their durability and well-known brand names. Try to make sure the items are fully operational, and take the time to clean them thoroughly so they look their best. Platforms like eBay, Craigslist, and Facebook Marketplace are popular for flipping these items.

Board Games

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According to Woman’s World, “The most valuable board game ever is an early ‘30s Monopoly set from the collection of the wealthy publisher Malcolm Forbes. It sold at auction for $120,000 (yep, you read that right!) in 2011.” Look out for early editions or rare games, and try to make sure they’re complete with all the pieces.

Photography Equipment

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As well as the cameras themselves, equipment such as lenses is also highly valued among photographers. Brands like Nikon and Canon are the best, and items that are rare or discontinued will reach the highest prices. Just make sure the lens is free of scratches and fungus so that it’s operational.

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