One Man’s Trash Is Another Man’s Treasure


Something that one person considers worthless may be considered valuable by someone else.

Not only is it just plain frugal, but have you ever been to a thrift store or second hand-resale shop for bargain items which you deem valuable from a preparedness standpoint?

Do you ever go to Salvation Army stores or thrift stores, second hand stores, auctions, or even yard sales? It might be interesting to hear what kind of useful things people have run across at these types of places…

I recently got an email from ‘Darren’ who says,

My wife and I love going to a thrift store about 8 miles away. It may sound corny but its exciting to go there when we get the chance. You NEVER know what you might find.

Not just clothing but for instance:

We have found antique meat grinders (the small table top ones) $6 bucks.
Today got brand new crutches $5.

Two weeks ago, almost new foldable walker, $8. Cast iron skillets, pots, pans, extra silverware,food processors etc.

Found a mini crock pot for $3 bucks. Its small enough for a 1 quart meal for two, and uses so little power that almost any inverter will power it.

Oil lamps, fold up card tables chairs, lamps, tons of mirror-backed candle holders, even occasionally camping equipment if you are there at the right time.

I got a 1 or 2 man 6 foot crosscut saw at an auction for $10 bucks. Still cuts like its brand new. I priced one at an antique shop for $150 dollars!!!!

Mrs.J and I have been to Salvation Army stores, thrift stores, consignment shops, etc.. and we’re often surprised at the incredible deals we’ve found. I’ll never forget my first ‘foray’ into this realm years ago during a time when our careers certainly enabled us to buy ‘new’ everything – however Mrs.J had convinced me to stop in at a particular thrift shop she had been eyeing (probably for ‘sport’ ;) ). After having browsed through the men’s clothing section, I had an arm full of various clothing… I was shocked that they mostly looked ‘good as new’ and I was about to pay pennies on the dollar for them – and were of a style that I agreed with. I realized that people get a tax write-off for donating things, so why not take advantage of that by being frugal on the other end?

Like they say, “One mans trash is another mans treasure!”

Lets hear from you…
Where are some of the places you have been while seeking out your ‘treasures’?


  1. Attend a local flea market on weekends. Great place to educate my children on how to deal with others for an item they may want. The folks there selling are always helpful with the kids and cut prices when they wheel and deal in a proper manner. I myself have picked up some deals. Old, well made garden tools for $5.00. Nice, large aluminum buck saw for $5.00 and some very difficult to find ammunition which I was glad to find for a decent price.

  2. When we had a houseful of kids (10), we used to shop Goodwill regularly. The kids loved finding deals, and we loved the price. My husband used to like to crawl under the multitude of vehicles at home and never stopped to think what he was wearing…Finally, I started buying all his beautiful cotton button down shirts at Goodwill for $4.00 each I did not care any more if he crawled under the cars in them!
    Fast forward many years, and we now TAKE most of our cast offs to a local Threift store. She loves to see us coming because we always just give it all to her, and she makes the small fortune selling it off!

    But if I need something…hers is the first shop I stop at!

  3. Garage sales are my favorite hunting ground for treasures.
    I have known of people that have received life changing assistance from the Salvation Army so I try to go there often and consider my purchases as charitable giving.

  4. Local Garage sale… Tools were $1 each, Yard tools were $2 each and I got a new Canon wireless printer for $5 as it was missing the power cord which I saved from when my old printer died…. Then there is the dumpster at my condo complex. Someone threw out a industrial size Hobart mixer, which I put on Ebay and got $455 for…..
    Other dumpster goodies… Audubon Prints, Water colr paintings, NIB Porter-Cable sander, Food Saver, Tools, Drone….

    1. I love to “dumpster dive” which usually never actually requires going into the dumpster. Most people (at least in my neighborhood) put decent items that others might want next to the dumpster. I find lots of furniture which I up cycle into new pieces. For instance I made a dresser into a really cool shelf and made the drawers into herb planters. Other things I’ve found brand new items still in boxes, wicker stackable storage bins with tags still on them, case full of DVDs and CDs, dishes, candles, artwork, frames, furniture from tables to dressers to bookshelfs. We found trash bags full of what appeared to be drawers just dumped in which we found a full book of I think it was 100 stamps, pens still in packages, and a bunch of other office supply items. We found what appeared to be a linen closet emptied of unopened bathroom supplies and medications. We didn’t take those as for me anything you ingest is to creepy even if unopened but the bag was gone later so someone made good use of it. My cousin recently found a bunch of brand new metal shelving from ikea brand new. I had one neighbor who had tons of plants sell his house and when the new people lived in I guess they didn’t like plants because we picked up 40 different very nice planters in all shapes and sizes, and a really nice and really big aquarium on a wooden stand, plus other gardening items buckets, plant stand holders, etc. I’m not to proud to take my neighbors trash ? and up cycle it into something new and winderful!

  5. I am a regular at our local thrift stores. In the last couple months I picked up five pair of 5.11 tactical pants (new condition), a Kevlar vest (that was in the men’s clothing section), 5 gallon water containers x2, 1 hand crank radio, and an emergency power pack at a 1/4 the original cost, just to name a few of the great deals I have come across. I still buy many new products on line but when my wife is food shopping I always head over to the thrift stores to see what might be available.

  6. I have been to some thrift stores where some of the used merchandise was priced at more than the new was at Walmart or Amazon. If it is more than a few dollars,it may be wise to price check using a smart phone.

    1. Man, where do I begin ? :^)

      Gun cases, tools, winter clothing (vintage wool is CHEAP during the summer!), backpacks. In military base cities, boots, BDUs, jackets – the whole gamut.

      Have to be quick though. Last time I was in San Antonio, the person about 3 carts ahead of me had at least six pairs of very clean desert boots (appeared to by Altamas) in his cart. His price – $40! Planned on selling them at the next gun show.

      Have to agree with above – I’ve noticed the prices lately at Salvation Army have gone up considerably in the past years. Be choosy and do the math before you throw them in. Also check the daily color tag thats on sale – that can save you bucks as well.

  7. I have purchased clothing, small hand tools, canning jars, pryex bakeware (just needed a good cleaning), etc. Reminds me I need to go more regularly. Just know how much things cost new. Thats where a smartphone or other internet connected device is helpful to have along.

  8. Back when I had a job that required dressy clothes, I used to troll through the local thrift shops for slacks and dress shirts, often finding them for a tenth the original price and sometimes with the original tags still on. You never know what you might find there. Often I will find some amazing and useful item, just not the one I was originally looking for.

  9. I found antique furniture at thrift stores and auctions the owners never knew the real value. I fell over when the Stickley mission chair I had was worth 5 grand, 35 years after I bought it in a lump of antique chairs and old wooden trunks, all for $25.

    I also visited dumps and fixed things that were broken and thrown away. I found pallets and made furniture out of them, and perfect log legs for tables, and lumber and metal strapping for projects I sold for a nice profit. These times were when I didn’t have much money, and with all the antiques, clothes, gadgets, and household items I found or made into useful items, they were a good investment.

  10. Trying to make more room in the house had us boxing up a ton of books to drop off at the salvation army. While there I picked up un-opened puzzles for $1 or less (new can cost as much as $15). I stopped buying puzzles when they hit $10 new, so this was a nice find for me.

  11. Goodwill Store: A great 1st place to check prior to “Breaking Down” to buy retail for items like work clothes for dirty jobs on the farm or ranch. Wool clothes for the winter where you still need to stay warm when you clean out the stalls in the barn in January.

    On the other end of the spectrum, when my father passed on, he left a closet full of Hicky-Freeman wool blend suits in charcoal gray in american cut. High quality suits are made to be repairable and easily tailored. I hope some young business type can put these suits to good use as they were worn during some high- level business negotiations back in the day. Good Suits in a conservative cut never seem to go out of style. (Unless you wear them to a Raver party with techno-pop playing)

    Dollar stores for paper plates, plastic utensils, cleaning clothes and garbage bags to feed large numbers of people at the same time like a festival, BBQ or refugee camp.

  12. When I lived in the “Ironbound” neighborhood of Newark N.J. we went ‘curb shopping’. We drove through Orange N.J. where the money lived and furnished our apartment with the furniture, appliances, etc, that were left on the curb for trash pickup.

  13. 2 Days ago helped a friend butcher an Elk. (We used his electric grinder).

    Yesterday went to Salvation Army Thrift Store, and bought an awesome
    small hand crank meat grinder for $30.00

  14. My dh found in the trash a industrial stihl weed eater that just needed cleaned up.

  15. We buy most of our non food preps from garage sales and our local recycling center. We have to drop our trash at a central location here called a Transfer Station. They opened a center where people can drop off unwanted items and clothes and get a tax receipt for it. People on vacation here drop off tents, backpacks, lanterns, sleeping bags on the way to the airport. Tents,sleeping bags $5 each.backpacks $2.5 pounds of clothes for a buck.I buy broken mowers,gennies for $5-$20.Fix them and resell.Books galore for .50.
    I’m always amazed how many really good knives I get just because people don’t know how to sharpen them. Tools one fixes any thing anymore. They just get rid of them and buy another. Their laziness our gain…

  16. I’ve gotten some excellent work clothes at Goodwill. My wife stops on a regular basis and finds goodies.

    1. I literally just got through typing the above when my wife came home and said, “Hey come look what I got”. She wanted to get my daughter a nice garlic press for Christmas. Found one at Goodwill for .99. Small pleasures…

  17. My favorite thing to buy at thrift stores is books. Being retired and traveling I read a lot. St. Vinnies has the best prices especially on hard cover books. I like reading a full sized hard cover novel over a paperback or kindle. I do buy paperbacks if I find the title I want. I have a Kindle fire but now kindle books. I do put eBooks on it and it works great for that but honestly you can’t beat a full sized hard cover book. When I’m done with the book I usually leave the book in the airport, train or campground I’m at when I’m done so someone else can read it.

  18. Goodwill is my candle supplier, get bags filled (10/20) all sizes for 1.50
    sleeping bag
    almost brand new 7.00 stainless steel pans bowls couple bucks.
    books, medical, electrical, chemistry, etc. build survival library.
    have not been in a while, the last time we went like every thing else prices seen a lot higher.

    dollar store for most meds, cleaning supply’s

  19. Garage and estate sales are my favorite. I’ve bought several CB’s and all sorts of electronic items for next to nothing. Most require minor repairs and cleaning. Look for a Hamfest in your area where there is surplus gear at good prices.

  20. it is good, for so many reasons…

    of course there is

    saving money

    even more
    -great for the environment
    -allows you more choice/items for same money
    -quite often can pick up items no longer in production
    -often older things are made better than new ones
    -if you have allergies to chemicals in new products, less of that

    some of the things I have bought
    -afghans (there seems to be huge stocks of hand made afghans going cheap)
    -wicker baskets
    -books of all sort, fiction and non fiction
    -storage containers

    all of above in new/near new condition

  21. Bargains! Treasure hunting! Surprises! What’s not to love?

    I was introduced to auctions as a kid. My parents bought a large turn of the century home and needed more furniture so we would go to estate auctions. I saw how she was able to buy beautiful items for $2 or $5 and I started to get educated through that process. I still go to estate auctions and they get rather lively at times because some people are unable to set a threshold price and get fierce when the ego takes over. LOL

    Like many others here, I’ve gotten many great items through thrift stores, yard sales, advertised items on Craigslist, and auctions. It’s so much more fun since there’s the unexpected element that feels like you’re on a treasure hunt. Sure beats the plain-vanilla mall…

    There’s a large thrift shop where my folks live and they receive many new items so I’ll put an ‘order’ in with my mom and she’ll buy what I’m looking for. She just found 2 new pairs of Sketcher shoes for me at $3/pair. Can’t beat that price!

    My most-used thrift item is probably the stainless colandar because I used it daily — it was like new at $6 and a perfect size.

  22. If there was royal family for thrift stores my wife would be the queen. I’m amazed by the things she finds and the prices she pays. Our home is beautifully decorated and the vast majority of the d├ęcor came from thrift store. I too find great items there. Recently a $5 meat grinder and a $2 bow store. Hard to beat her 200+ canning jars for $10 though. I did find a $150 takedown bow for $15 so that comes close. Unfortunately it was to light to use for hunting but it was perfect for my petite daughter. Most of my clothes come from thrift stores and she dresses me nice. Just the other day my doc was commenting on my sweat shirt and it wasn’t my favorite one.

    According to Judy the trick is to go frequently and to frequent the stores that work for charitable causes. many of them are using volunteers to set the prices. Hospice type stores tend to have older volunteers and humane society stores tend towards younger volunteers. There is a big difference in the pricing with the younger volunteers having much less regard for the value of a dollar, Tagging an item for $5 seems low to them whereas an older volunteer would thing $5 was a lot and price it much lower. When you realize that the younger staff think nothing of paying $5 for a cup of coffee at Starbucks and the older ones can remember buying coffee for 10 cents a cup you can understand the mindset.
    She also spends less time in the re-sale stores and has found items in them that still had the original price tag indicating that it sold for less when it was new.
    A lot of this stuff could be classified as dead peoples stuff. A surviving parent passes and the kids need to clean out the house so they can sell it and have no idea what the value is of the “junk” that Mom had saved and eventually it will happen to all of us. Personally I like reusing the quality items that they had and giving them a new life.

  23. and do not forget to check the free sections of the various places.

    gotten a few things that way too.

    1. Good point. Lots of places use color coded tags and have one day a week where a color is half of what it is marked as. Some stores have senior or veterans discounts and some have vouchers for the poor. If you are traveling use mapquest to look for thrift stores in the area you are visiting.

  24. $5 NorthFace DRYZZLE Gore-Tex Jacket… Suggested retail $200… I like saving $195!!!! I guess… the best part of thrifting is…. If you don’t tell people you scored in a thrift store… they never know! hahahaha!

    1. I “thrift”, often. but I don’t tell folks. there are only a couple of us who discuss it with each other.

      as well as thrift, I keep a sharp eye out for stupid cheap/clearing out specials

      it is odd/interesting, the same group of folks who turn their nose up at saving 195.00 on a jacket, also seem to turn their nose up at getting something for fifty cents instead of four dollars, in the grocery store.

      sometimes I seriously wonder where these folks are getting “all their money” from?

  25. I have found some usable stuff by the curb before tash pickup. I’ve picked up a couple of coolers that just needed cleaning and sold them. My wife even got in on the act and came home with a camping cot someone was throwing away.
    I once bought an older colman stove so cheaply I knew I could triple my money on craiglist.
    I’m always on look out for other people’s trash.

  26. Today got an MTD riding mower. 16.5 HP motor, 42 inch deck, hydrostatic tranny. $50 bucks. Needed about a half dozen shots of carb cleaner. Runs like new.
    Got an old roto-tiller, $20 bucks. Needed — gasoline, and someone to put the choke on and pull the rope. Tilled between the garden rows with it this after noon.
    My 83 year old father (an expert dumpster diver) drove behind a True Value hardware store and picked up a 15 foot Sun Setter patio awning, still in the package that had an end of the cardboard shipping packing torn. The store refused to sign for it, because it had damage to the cardboard packing. So they put it next to the dumpster.
    Same store tossed out an adjustable hedge trimmer/lopper and an old school scycle type weed whacker, because they had loose rivets. All acquired for free. The store manager, who now knows my dad on a first name basis, told my dad it isn’t worth the time to pay someone to do the paperwork to return “defective” merchandise.They simply call the distributor, and have them ship a new one. So he kindly places these items in an easy to reach place, knowing that my dad will be coming around at least once a week. LOL

Comments are closed.