11 Things You Should Always Buy at Thrift Shops

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For some savvy shoppers, thrift stores are the retail gift that keeps on giving. From vintage dresses to DVDs, toys, and home furnishings, there's bound to be something for everyone. In honor of National Thrift Shop Day, we've rounded up 11 items that are always worth the discount splurge. (Of course, you should always make sure the products are in good condition and free from defects!)

1. WOODEN FURNITURE

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Looking to upgrade your particle board living room set? Thrift stores are a great place to score solid wood furnishings at bargain prices if you’re watching your wallet. Even if you don't end up finding your vintage dream piece, items that are more grandma than retro-glam can still be transformed with paint, varnish, and brand-new fixtures.

2. BOOKS

Old, dusty hardcover books on a shelf
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From classic tomes to buzzy bestsellers, you’ll likely spot books worth reading on sale at your local thrift store, selling for a fraction of their online or bookstore price.

3. BABY CLOTHES

A stack of folded baby clothing sitting on a table next to a brown teddy bear.
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Babies turn into toddlers—and outgrow their tiny outfits— seemingly overnight. We know it can be hard to resist the impulse to splurge on adorable, full-priced baby products, but you’ll save lots of money by buying basic newborn ensembles (which will likely get stained by spilled food and spit-up) at thrift stores—but make sure that the clothes (and any buttons) are in good condition and not damaged, and be mindful of products that may have been recalled.

4. MATERNITY CLOTHES

A pregnant woman sitting in a chair, looking at a sonogram.
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Don’t want to pay top dollar for clothing you’ll only wear for a few months? You’ll likely find next-to-new maternity outfits at thrift stores, donated by mothers who’ve re-embraced their pre-pregnancy wardrobes.

5. CLASSIC VINYL RECORDS

A stack of vinyl records sitting in a row
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Vinyl records are officially hip again. Splurge on new releases if you want, but many classics can be purchased at thrift stores for a fraction of what they'd cost in record stores.

6. WOODEN HANGERS

Wooden hangers on a clothing rack
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Unlike their brittle plastic or malleable wire counterparts, quality wooden hangers last forever. They’re also great for hanging heavier items like winter coats, and they don’t leave creases or dents in sweaters or shirts. That said, wooden hangers can be expensive to buy in bulk—but at a thrift store, you’ll likely find plenty for pennies (and some might even come for free with clothing items).

7. BIKES

A red bicycle on a porch with a "For Sale" sign tacked to its side.
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Serious cyclists should probably invest in a lightweight performance bike, but casual riders wanting a convenient way to cruise around town can likely find a well-made single-speed ride for cheap at their local thrift store.

8. HALLOWEEN COSTUMES

A multi-layered, rainbow-colored tutu
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From poofy '80s prom dresses to ballerina tutus and lab coats, thrift stores are filled with tons of inspiration for creative (and low-cost) Halloween costumes. Not into DIY-ing your own spooky ensemble? Keep your eyes peeled for brand-new costumes purchased from national retailers, or barely-worn ones donated by trick-or-treaters.

9. NOVELTY KITCHEN TOOLS AND APPLIANCES

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Expensive appliances like bread making machines, pasta makers, and popcorn machines are fun, but they often end up collecting dust in the back of a cabinet. If you really want a certain novelty kitchen item, keep a lookout at your local thrift store to see if you can score a gently-used model before buying new. (Just remember to give whatever you buy a thorough cleaning before you use it!)

10. PICTURE FRAMES

A black-and-white portrait of a family inside a white antique picture frame.
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While shopping at thrift stores, look past the ugly art and focus instead on whether the garish pictures and still life paintings are encased in beautiful frames. Once you're home, remove the art and pop in your own images. (Apartment Therapy has a useful tutorial to walk you through the re-framing and matting process.)

11. GENTLY-USED TOOLS

Gently-used old tools sitting on a wooden table
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Every renter or homeowner should own an emergency toolbox to fix small leaks, hang pictures, and tackle troublesome toilet issues. Thrift stores sometimes sell hardy used tools for cheap, and you may even score products from companies like Craftsman, which have lifetime warranties that guarantee replacements for tools with normal wear-and-tear (be aware, though, that those companies might require a proof-of-purchase).

10 Ways To Look Professional, and Hide Your Pajamas, In a Video Conference Call

You don't need to wear full business attire to maintain a professional appearance.
You don't need to wear full business attire to maintain a professional appearance.
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The COVID-19 crisis has forced offices to shutter around the country, and as a result, more people are working from home than ever. That means we're seeing more of coworkers' bedrooms, pets, and pajamas than we ever imagined.

If you're navigating the dos and don'ts of working remotely for the first time, you don't necessarily need to choose between professionalism and comfortable pants. Just keep a few tips in mind to make your transition from being alone on the couch to hopping onto a last-minute Zoom video call as smooth as possible.

Just like in real life, wearing the right outfit can go a long way when it comes to looking professional for your colleagues. Standards aren't as high when you're telecommuting, so even switching out your T-shirt for a business-casual top when you expect to be on video can be enough to show you put effort into your appearance. And unless you plan on moving around on the video call, don't bother putting on pants that don't have an elastic waistband.

If you want to look good on video, there are a few things to keep in mind that don't apply to in-person meetings. Position your computer so you're eye-level with the camera, placing it on a stack of books if necessary, and find a room with good lighting so your coworkers can actually see you. And to avoid getting any unpleasant surprises when you see yourself in a group meeting, check how you look on camera privately before calling in.

You can find tips for looking professional on a video conference call below. And for more ways to optimize your telecommuting experience, check out these habits to practice.

  1. Sit facing a window for natural lighting.
  1. Wear a business-casual top.
  1. Choose clothes with neutral tones.
  1. Position your webcam so it's level with your eyes.
  1. Sit farther from the camera rather than closer.
  1. If you're having a bad hair day, pull it back with a hair tie.
  1. Keep on comfortable pants if you can avoid standing up.
  1. Find a private room to minimize background distractions.
  1. See how you look on your computer camera before joining a video call.
  1. If you have limited time to put on makeup, focus on brows and cheeks to give your face dimension.

11 Boredom-Busting Classes and Activities You Can Do at Home

A good workout is just one way to pass the time while socially isolating.
A good workout is just one way to pass the time while socially isolating.
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Staying home as much as possible is the best way to stop the spread of novel coronavirus, according to health experts. If you’ve already taken this step to protect yourself and your community, you may be faced with a different problem: the crushing boredom that comes with spending all your time indoors. Fortunately, there have never been more ways to keep busy on the internet. In an effort to lift spirits and stimulate minds in isolation, businesses, artists, and institutions have found new ways to keep people connected from afar. From virtual field trips to free workout classes, here are the best boredom-busting activities to check out.

1. Take a free workout class with the YMCA.

Your local gym may be closed, but that doesn’t mean you have to postpone your workout routine for the foreseeable future. The YMCA has launched a new series of free, online fitness classes for people stuck at home. The on-demand videos include barre, bootcamp, yoga, tai chi, and weightlifting. After breaking a sweat for 30 minutes, you may even forget you’re not at the gym.

2. Meditate with the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s jellyfish.

Taking care of your mental health is as important as maintaining your physical health while social distancing. If you want to start your day in a good head space, tune into the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s morning “MeditOceans” on YouTube. After closing to the public, the California aquarium started uploading 10- to 15-minute guided meditations set to soothing footage of marine life or scenes from nature. We recommend starting with their video of undulating jellyfish.

3. Take a virtual field trip to a National Park.

Combat claustrophobia by taking a virtual tour of some of the country’s most majestic national parks. The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks project from Google Arts & Culture offers virtual, 360-degree tours of five National Park System sites, all guided by real park rangers. The diverse destinations include the Kenai Fjords in Alaska; Hawai’i Volcanoes in Hawai’i; Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico; Bryce Canyon in Utah; and Dry Tortugas in Florida. You can view all the properties from your phone or computer, and if you have a virtual reality headset, you can transport yourself out of your home with an immersive experience.

4. Take an Improv Class from Second City.

Improv comedy is difficult to do alone. With Second City, you can take a class with other students and master instructors from the comfort of your home. Second City has helped launch the careers of such comedy heavyweights as Steve Carell, Bill Murray, Amy Poehler, and Tina Fey. Even though its physical theaters in Chicago, Toronto, and Los Angeles are closed during the coronavirus crisis, comedy classes will continue online. In addition to improv, students can take virtual lessons in comedic songwriting, pitching TV shows, stand-up, sketch comedy, and more from Second City’s pro teachers. If you’re not willing to pay $195 to $295 for a four- to eight-week online course, you can take a one-time drop-in improv or stand-up class for $25.

5. Learn about Women’s History with The New-York Historical Society.

Whether you’re teaching someone home from school or looking to educate yourself in your spare time, there are plenty of remote resources online. The New-York Historical Society is sharing its expertise in the form of a free digital curriculum on women’s history in America. The online course materials cover the period from 1920 to 1948, starting with the flappers of the Jazz Age and ending with women in the postwar era. You can view the entire unit, which includes archival photos and documents, on the NYHS’s website.

6. Join the D.C. Library’s quarantine book club.

If you already plan on reading a ton of books in isolation, you can turn the solitary activity into a social one by joining a quarantine book club. The D.C. Public Library recently announced its book club D.C. Reads is going digital, and now anyone can participate from home. This month’s pick is With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo. If you have a Washington, D.C. library card, you can use it to download the e-book for free. Book club discussions will take place on March 28 and April 4 at 2 p.m. through the library’s Twitter account.

7. Draw with Wendy Macnaughton.


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Whether you consider yourself a novice or a Picasso, you can benefit from making art with others. Every weekday at 10 a.m. PST, Wendy Macnaughton (illustrator of the cookbook Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat) hosts drawing classes in her Instagram Stories. All participants need is paper and a pencil. Artists of all ages can draw along, though Macnaughton states classes are just long enough to keep kids occupied for parents “to get a little work done or take a shower and take a couple deep breathes.”

8. Tour the American Museum of Natural History.

As long as you have an internet connection, the impressive halls of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City are just a few clicks away. Every day at 2 p.m. EST, the institution is sharing tours of its exhibits and collections as Facebook Lives. Some special sneak peeks published to the AMNH Facebook page so far include a tour of the Hall of Reptiles and Amphibians and a look at its trilobite collection led by curator and trilobite paleontologist Melanie Hopkins.

9. Take a cooking class with Milk Street.

Not sure what to do with your quarantine food supply? Taking a cooking class is a great place to start. Through the end of April, Milk Street (from America’s Test Kitchen co-founder Christopher Kimball) is making its online culinary lessons free to everyone. Topics include baking, cooking without a recipe, and using certain kitchen tools. After a few weeks of classes, you’ll know your way around everything from a chef’s knife to an Instant Pot.

10. Get Creative with the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver.

While it’s closed, the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver is using its social media to keep followers engaged with their creative sides. Every Tuesday on Instagram, the institution will post a new challenge to its Stories. This week’s challenge is finding something to read and posting about it to Instagram to help the museum compile the ultimate reading list. Past challenges have included setting aside 30 minutes to make art and sharing photos of pets wearing wigs.

11. Learn guitar with Fender.

At the risk of driving your quarantine-mates crazy, you can use isolation as an opportunity to get in touch with your inner rockstar. Fender is giving the first 100,000 users who create a new account on Fender Play three months of free online lessons. The instructional videos led by talented musicians are high-quality, and you can access them from your phone, tablet, or computer. And if you don't have a guitar at home, the program also includes lessons for bass guitars and ukuleles.

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