Industry insiders call it the resale industry. You may call it bargain hunting, goodwill hunting, consignment cruising, or whatever other crafty term you may have come up with. But if you visit thrift shops, you’re not alone. Data published by the Association of Resale Professionals indicates that around one out of every six Americans (16 to 18 percent) goes thriftin’ within a given year.
On the hunt for a great deal and maybe to help contribute to a good cause, shoppers find clothing, shoes, electronics, and home goods at thrift stores across the country. First Research estimates that there are around 18,000 used merchandise stores in the U.S., together bringing in revenues of $12 billion annually.
Thrift stores, like yard sales, have become a site not only for value hunting but for treasure hunting. Television shows like American Pickers, Baggage Battles, and Storage Wars have publicized the knowledge of locating rare and valuable items in odd places. Thrift stores are yet another place where treasures hide.
A few years back, a student is said to have bought a pull-out couch at a local flea market in Berlin. When she arrived home, she found a small painting by Carlo Saraceni worth nearly $28,000. Then there was the woman who was said to have bought a $10 painting at Goodwill. Upon entering the information on the back of the painting into a Google search, she found that the painting was valued at $20,000.
In addition to paintings, which are one of the more valuable thrift shop treasures, there are a few other items to keep an eye out for while you’re out thrifting.