Thrift Store Prepping and Hidden TreasureAs 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.”

Goodwill Online

goodwill onlineYou can also shop Goodwill from the comfort of your own couch. All you need to do is go to 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.


Survival and being prepared should not only be a passion, it should be a lifestyle. The definition of a prepper is "An individual or group that prepares or makes preparations in advance of, or prior to, any change in normal circumstances, without substantial resources from outside sources" Like the Government, police etc. I don't believe that the end of the world will be the "end of the world" I believe it will be the end of the world as we know it now. You can also find me on Google Plus and Twitter

    16 replies to "Thrift Store Prepping and Hidden Treasure"

    • chris

      True dale but a lot of thrift stores nowdays are extremely proud of the crap they have….for example….i wanted to buy my dogs blankets two years ago so i went looking at thrift stores….i ended up buying brand new comforters at a retail store cheaper than what they wanted at the thrift stores for used crap.

      • Radtech

        Found a Zojirushi bread maker for $4.00! Works great and if/when we loose electricity I can still have bread using my battery bank or using an inverter in my SUV. Also found a small chemotherapy spill kit that has a mask, gown, gloves, shoe covers, and special absorbency cleaning pads, for $3.00. I get pretty lucky at Goodwill most of the time

    • Samantha Stauf

      I’ve always been wowed by the quality of the cookware I’ve located at thrift stores. One trip, 30 dollars, and I went home with almost everything I need for my kitchen.

    • Gray Fox 114

      I love to brag!!!! Yard sales are a favorite, and these are a FEW of the items I have picked up: An internal and an external frame Spec Ops backpacks, 1 each, $10.00 for the pair…..A Big Berkey Stainless water purifier, with four filters, brand new, $5.00. The gal that sold it to me said “You must really drink a lot of coffee……..huh? Oh, yup. Three back packing type water filters, various brands, not over $2.00 each…200# of assorted candles, cheap……2 brand new down sleeping bags, 2# each, $2.00 each. And the list goes on. Living in an area of the American Redoubt, there are lots of preppers here. When one passes away, often times the heirs or executor could care less about anything but money and getting rid of things. Some incredible buys…..

      • laura m.

        Gary: Several y2k preppers died in recent years and their stuff was tossed or sold, which is why I don’t prep that much now as y2k was a joke. Hoarding stuff and wasting money, then later the stuff is thrown out. I knew several families of preppers, now deceased it was all for nothing. Money was wasted. I sold a bunch of prep stuff after y2k but have several weeks of preps for storms and power outages.

    • larry

      Article caught my eye….last month walked into a salvation army with my wife…while she was looking for a long dress for one time use , I stumbled across a brand new in the box, 4 season , 2 person , high quality backpacking tent for $ 2.00/ retailed at cabelsd for $ 369.00..….now go there weekly….

    • Old Alaskan

      I like to attend Defaulted Storage Auctions in my area. Things that I have found, this past year Mossberg 500 12 Ga. good condition, Viper copperhead cross bow, lots of camping gear, tools, chain saws, prepper books.
      There is a knife/prepper book auction now that I and friends are watching and bidding at.
      In my opinion storage auctions are the way to go and what you don’t need you can barter or sell.

    • Illini Warrior

      the thrift stores are just loaded with books …. books of all kinds ….. next to clothes it’s probably their 2nd most donated item ….

      a good book and little book lite will be your best friend during a SHTF with no other entertainment and your utmost concern is laying low with secrecy …..

    • Nan

      Linens are cheap. Get over that you want everything to match. Just bough 6 wash cloths, extra thick for .50 cents each and kitchen towels for a dollar. Some were new, probably they didn’t match their decor. I’ve gotten sheet sets for my sons, who are hard on stuff for $5 dollars. Backpack for $3 and knives by the bushel. My big thing was going to the garden club where little old ladies still have china sets and bought 2 sets for 3 bucks. Also got good silverware for a song. Just keep going to find deals, not necessarily what you need at that moment.

    • Deborah

      I used to be a thrift store junkie, and I would still be if there was a decent on in my area. Where I used to live they had a Goodwill Bargain Barn where you could get so much good, cheap stuff. Came home one day with over $250 worth of stuff for less than $25. I didn’t have my own place then, so I ended up not getting a lot of good stuffI could have. I collected an entire 8-piece set of Golden Wheat china and my ex-roommate stole it, along with all my other dinnerware and bath stuff. I ended up with one cup and saucer and a gravy dish that was in another box.

    • Jax

      Good Article. We have a bunch of thrift shops in the area. Garage Sales are great too, especially the community garage sales in the spring and summer. Some of the thrift shops have gotten kind of pricey, but you can always find something at one of them. Another great place to get stuff is I’ve gotten lots of FREE stuff from locals.

    • Rebecca Snyder

      Oh, I just love thrift store prepping! I got an *chromed* FoodSaver, with 5 rolls of bags for $9, and a Seal-a-Meal for $3. I have also found the hand-pump devices that you can use to seal Mason jars, if you have the lid adapter. I’ve gotten some great cast iron cookware, oil lamps, and 2 Colemand battery lanterns (for $5 each), A propane smoker/grill combo (for $25), One thrilling find was a Ryobi 18V cordless weed-whacker with the double battery, for $9. The battery alone sells for $99! Bonus on that trip was in another section of the store, finding the matching quick charge unit for it. Another $7, for that. Considering I had just bought a combo deal of Ryobi saws and drill, the extra battery and charger were a major bonus. Found a heavy-duty slingshot with extra band for $1, and a stovetop waffle iron for $3. Yep.I’m always on the prowl!

    • jazmin

      From the top of my head… 2 small hurricane lanters under $4 each. Oil lamps under $5. All the goodwills and Savers that I’ve been to in Santa Clara county, California are getting expensive!

      Lol an old Halloween bucket with original 79¢ tag, was 99¢ im always checking out dollar tree, and goodwill sells their things for 99¢, only 9¢ less…. I’ve seen used glass baby bottles 3 for $7.99, when they’re $4.49 brand new….
      I have sort of been collecting wall sconces. They can light your place and it is, in part, out of childrens reach.

    • Chris Speier

      I usually am able to find stainless steel bottles for my family for around 50 cents to a dollar

    • Michelle Campbell

      I have been a thrift store Shopper since I was a child as my mother used to go to thrift stores when we were growing up and I have continued that behavior ever since. The Steals and Deals that I have acquired over the years from the thrift stores are too numerous to count. I have gotten things from cookware to Camp goods. Dog supplies to household bedding. Baker’s racks and garden supplies. And Books Galore as I very seldom ever buy a book brand new unless it is a specialty one I think a couple of my favorite finds, what is an old Rhapsody shortwave all weather radio for $8 at the Salvation Army. And a couple of matching, high quality, self-inflating sleeping camp mats for $16 and a butcher block with a back rack attached for hanging supplies on. And I got that for $20.. I also found a brand new spice rack with every jar in it unopened for $5. At this point in my life I have actually slowed down on the thrift shopping endeavors as I am at the point where there is nothing left that I really have a need for. What I do now is keep my food stocks resupplied. I keep adding batteries. I continue to can and I continue to purchase those items that must be bought new. But the thrift stores are by far the best places to do the majority of your shopping especially when it comes to those High ticket store items. There are always cheaper at the thrift stores. You just have to bide your time and be consistent and eventually you’ll find what you’re looking for.

    • Jay

      I’ve just realized wool sweaters are a great thing to look for. Cozy merino wool, $80 at banana republic, $20 maximum brand new at the thrift store. Got 4 for home and backpacking.

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