As preppers we are always looking for a good deal because let’s face it, if we had to buy everything we needed at retail price we would end up in the poorhouse. Along with some of the common items you need for prepping, thrift store prepping can lead to hidden treasures and unexpected finds.
Every thrift store that you go to will have something a little different, it all depends on the neighborhood and good timing. You might think that thrift stores in nicer neighborhoods would have better items but that’s not necessarily the case, some of the thrift stores in lower income areas can have more inventory.
Just like yard sale hopping, you can pick a few different thrift stores to check out, some stores will have different inventory depending on what was donated. Before you go, make a list of items that you are looking for and a list of items that you probably won’t find, but it would be great if you did.
Most of the time you go to the thrift store you might only get one or two things from our list, but you will end up finding something you just couldn’t pass up. Just recently we found a Coleman stove and lantern for $5. This is kind of like gambling, you never know how you will make out.
As you do this more often you will begin to find out what stores are better, when they are better and what stores are not worth your time. Here is a list of some common items you might find at a thrift store.
Thrift Store Items to Look For
Back Packs: It can be tough to get a quality bug out bag from the thrift store, but if your timing is right you can find a great bag at a great price. You can also find bags and packs that can be for other purposes like car kits and first aid kits.
Camping Supplies: Camping supplies are never in short supply at a thrift store, these can range from knives, camping stoves and lanterns to boots and clothing.
Oil Lamps: Oil lamps can range from $20 to $100 retail, sometimes you can find these for $5 at the goodwill. Oil lamps are much safer than candles, and when there is no electricity, they will come in very handy.
Candles: Another thing that you can always find are candles. Having a light source that doesn’t require batteries or fuel in an SHTF situation is a good backup to have.
Flashlights: You are bound to find a flashlight or head lamp at any thrift store, the quality of that flashlight is a different story. The power of a flashlight is measured in Lumens, the higher the better…or brighter.
Radios: Crank radios, CB radios and possibly even ham radios would be a great find at a discount store. I have yet to find a crank radio…but it’s on my list.
Clothing: Having some extra clothing is always good to have, even if it’s just “SHTF clothing” and it gets put away in a storage bin for emergency use.
Games: When the sun goes down and there is no electricity it will get really boring really fast, why not pass the time with a game of Monopoly or Jenga.
Canning Supplies: You never know what canning supplies you might find. If you happen to hit the thrift store at the right time you might stumble on some good supplies.
Food Storage Supplies: From Tupperware to shelving you’re bound to find something valuable here. I’m still looking for a food Saver but haven’t been lucky yet, I’m also looking for a food dehydrator.
Survival Books: You can not only find survival books, but you can find all sorts of books about gardening, hunting, electronics and just about anything you can think of when it comes to prepping. Learning new skills is always important.
Knives and Silverware: Every once in a while you will be able to find a survival knife, but kitchen knives and silverware will definitely be available. You might even other kitchen utensils.
Tools: What guy doesn’t love tools? Sometimes all you will find is a pile of junk, but there is always the possibility of finding that diamond in the rough.
Shoes/Boots: When and if the S hits the fan your shoes are bound to give out on you. Unless you have cobbler skills it might be a good idea to have a few extra pair in your size…even if you don’t wear them right now.
Gardening Supplies: You might have better luck looking for gardening supplies in the fall or winter, but you could find hoses, shovels or maybe even a push mower.
Hidden Treasures: As I said earlier, you never know what you might find at a thrift store. You might go in for one thing, and come out with something totally unexpected. The more you visit the thrift store, the better your chances are, like the saying goes “you can’t hit a home run if you’re not swinging the bat.”
You can also shop Goodwill from the comfort of your own couch. All you need to do is go to shopgoodwill.com and you can search through their inventory and find something you might like.
Goodwill online is set up sort of like eBay where you bid on items, but you can still get some pretty good deals. Just be careful, there is no guarantee that the item will work like you expect it to so choose wisely.
Selling on eBay
Another thing we do from time to time is sell what we have found on eBay, one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. If you find something that you really don’t need, but is too good to pass up why not make a few dollars on it.
I wouldn’t say quit your day job, but some people do pretty well at going to thrift stores and garage sales and selling what they have found for a profit. This could be a good way of making a few extra buck each month to get what you really want though.
What treasures have you found?
Have you found anything that made you say “WOW! I can’t believe this was only $5!” Let us know in the comments below.