11 Things You Should Always Buy at Thrift Shops

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iStock

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

Woman restoring a piece of old 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

A bread making machine
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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).

This Smart Accessory Converts Your Instant Pot Into an Air Fryer

Amazon
Amazon

If you can make a recipe in a slow cooker, Dutch oven, or rice cooker, you can likely adapt it for an Instant Pot. Now, this all-in-one cooker can be converted into an air fryer with one handy accessory.

This Instant Pot air fryer lid—currently available on Amazon for $80—adds six new cooking functions to your 6-quart Instant Pot. You can select the air fry setting to get food hot and crispy fast, using as little as 2 tablespoons of oil. Other options include roast, bake, broil, dehydrate, and reheat.

Many dishes you would prepare in the oven or on the stovetop can be made in your Instant Pot when you switch out the lids. Chicken wings, French fries, and onion rings are just a few of the possibilities mentioned in the product description. And if you're used to frying being a hot, arduous process, this lid works without consuming a ton of energy or heating up your kitchen.

The lid comes with a multi-level air fry basket, a broiling and dehydrating tray, and a protective pad and storage cover. Check it out on Amazon.

For more clever ways to use your Instant Pot, take a look at these recipes.

At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.

7 Online Tech Course Programs That Will Help You Build New Career Skills

dusanpetkovic/iStock via Getty Images Plus
dusanpetkovic/iStock via Getty Images Plus

It's always a good time to build new career skills, and with these tech-related courses, you can learn anything from the basics of Python to the ins and outs of G Suite. These courses will boost your knowledge of the digital world and help you put some valuable new bullet points on your resume. Many of these courses allow you to read through the materials for free, but if you want to take advantage of graded coursework and earn a certificate of completion to include on your LinkedIn profile or resume at the end, there will be a fee of anywhere from $39 to $49.

1. UI/UX Design Specialization

In this four-class specialization on UI/UX design, you’ll discover how to design digital experiences that users can navigate with ease. Over about four months, you’ll learn the basics of visual communication and you’ll be able to practice gathering user feedback to build intuitive, attractive websites and interfaces.

Sign up on Coursera to take all four courses in this specialization for $49 a month.

2. Python for Everybody

Python is quickly gaining ground as one of the most in-demand programming languages for employers. Plus, its fans say it’s highly readable and approachable for new programmers just starting to learn a coding language. If you want to understand the basics of Python, from 101 principles to more advanced database design, these courses will get you started.

Sign up on Coursera to take all five courses in this specialization for $49 a month.

3. Data Science Professional Certificate

Data science is one of the fastest growing professions in the U.S., according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In this nine-course professional certificate program, you’ll start by learning basic data science methodology before moving into how to use Python and SQL to analyze and visualize data to forecast future trends. IBM estimates that you’ll complete the entire certificate in about 10 months if you commit four hours per week, but the timing is flexible enough to suit any schedule.

Sign up on Coursera to take all nine courses in this specialization for $39 a month.

4. Computer Architecture

This course, taught by an electrical engineering professor at Princeton, teaches students how to design computer hardware that supports powerful software. But be forewarned: This is an advanced class intended for students with extensive knowledge in computer science. If you’re looking for a beginner-level course, this class—also from Princeton—may be a better fit.

Sign up on Coursera for free.

5. AI for Everyone

If you’re worried that artificial intelligence will drive you out of the workforce, this course will help. Over the course of four weeks, you’ll learn the basics of what is and isn’t possible through AI—and you may even gain some ideas for how to use AI to augment your own career.

Sign up on Coursera for $49.

6. G Suite Administration Specialization

Become a Google Cloud expert with this series of courses put together by Google itself. Over about two months, you’ll learn management tactics and security guidelines for using Gmail, Google Drive, Google Docs, and Calendar. This specialization prepares participants to become G Suite administrators at their respective companies and organizations.

Sign up on Coursera to take all five courses in this specialization for $49 a month.

7. Introduction to Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is near the top of the list of skills employers are looking for, according to LinkedIn. In this introductory course, you’ll gain a basic understanding of cloud-based networks and get some practice working with IBM Cloud.

Sign up on Coursera for $49.

At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.