$econdhand First Class

A thrift store fanatic shares her shopping secrets

Archive for the category “Entertainment”

Read for a Song!

Looking for great books at a thrift store is my kind of adventure. There are shelves and shelves, stacks and stacks of romance, sci-fi and fantasy, detective, thriller, nonfiction, and just plain oddball reads. Take your pick and pocket the savings.

Photo: Jeremy Wrenn, morgueFile

Some of the bigger thrift stores organize their books by category. Stores with less labor just shelf or stack the books in any old way. If you visit one of these stores for books, plan lots of time.

If you have more patience than money, you can often find that hot best seller at a thrift store for a fraction of the original selling price pretty quickly after the furor dies down. I got the first three books of the Ice and Fire series for a couple of dollars each. Good thing they were so cheap since the stories were tedious.

Prices vary by region but you can find hardbacks for a couple of dollars and paperbacks for a buck or less.

Books are a pretty safe buy since there are no zippers or plugs or wires to assess but here are ways to spot problems that could detract from your reading pleasure:

  • Eye the book’s edge. If the pages are wavy, the book could have water damage.

    Eye the edges. Straight? Go for it.
    Wavy? Pass.

  • Sniff. If the book smells like a wet basement, pass unless you have your hands on a rare first edition of Huck Finn.
  • Leaf through the pages. Make sure a six-year-old artist has not redecorated the pages with a crayon or an avid reader hasn’t underlined so many sentences the page looks like one of your high school English papers after you got it back from the teacher.

Happy thrifting!


Entertainment: DVDs, CDs and More

DVDs, CDs, and Games

There are DVDs and CDs aplenty at thrift stores. And for those who believe that cassettes or videos will come back, good news! They never left; they are as close as your local thrift store.

Cheap DVDs, CDs, or cassettes are a great way to try movies or music outside your normal taste. For a couple of dollars, you might learn you love The Offspring or the Evil Dead. Or you could confirm that you do loathe Tony Bennett or Ben Hur.

Discs: DVDs, CDs and Video Games

  • Check for a disc in the case. It is shocking that people steal from places that fund charitable work but, sadly, they do. Make sure you aren’t buying an empty case.

    Check the disc for scratches.

  • Check for a match between disc and cover. If the thrift store prices each CD, DVD, and game separately, another favorite trick of the ethically challenged is to put a higher-priced disc in a lower-priced case. You’re all set to groove to Three Dog Night but it’s the Donnas who are staying the night.
  • Check for scratches. If you are lucky enough to find the right disc in the case, you’re not ready for the register yet. Hold the disc at an angle and look for scratches. Some superficial scratches can be fixed but lots of scratches or deep gashes will have you crying the blues.

Cassettes or Videos

  • If you’re interested in these dinosaurs (pardon me, collectibles), look at the overall condition of the case. If it’s cracked or jammed with jelly, pass. If the labels look wrinkled or have water stains, move on.

    Release the catch on the door to inspect the tape.

  • Scrutinize the condition of the tape on the spools. For VHS tapes, release the catch on the door to inspect the tape. The tape on cassettes and VHS tape should be smooth with the coating intact. The tape should appear evenly wound. Loose tape or rough ragged edges can mean uneven sound on your cassette player or snowy pictures on your TV.
  • Check that cassettes have an intact pressure pad. Turn the spool with your finger to see if the mechanism operates smoothly or if it is jammed.

When you get home with your treasures, pop in that DVD and grab the chips and dip.

You’re ready for an evening of cheap fun!

Happy thrifting!

Thrift Stores: Party Supply Central


Examples of vases I bought
at a local thrift store

Planning a party and want to wow guests with your creativity and decorating flair? On a limited budget? Don’t worry! Light out for your local thrift store to pick up bargain-priced party supplies and ideas. Since supplies are limited by donations, you might have to visit a couple of thrift stores to get all you need.

  • Candles. Nothing sets a mood like candles. You’ll find candles of all sizes and shapes at many thrift stores: tapers, pillars, tea lights, etc. Mix the colors and sizes for an interesting effect. If you plan to light the candles, check the label on the candle base to make sure the candle was made in the U.S.A. or that the wick is lead-free. Candles made in the U.S.A since 1993 have lead-free wicks.
  • Candle holders. Buy an armload of small juice glasses or tumblers to display your small candles. Or pick up a variety of mismatched cups or small planters. To stabilize the candle in the container, put sand in the glass first, then nestle the candle into the sand.
  • Napkins. Mix and match is the key. Mix a print with a coordinating solid. Or pair solids that match your theme, for example yellow and white for spring.
  • Vases. People get vases in floral arrangements and toss the vase after the flowers fade. You can find large and small vases galore at thrift stores.
  • Glassware. Short of goblets, wine glasses, or just plain any-kind-of glasses? You’re likely to find shelves of glasses at a thrift store, just waiting to make your guests’ drinks memorable. Check for chips by running your fingertip around the rim of the glass and the base.
  • Wreaths. Looking for sprigs of greenery to brighten a table? Pick up a few wreaths and pull out the greenery you want. Toss, recycle, or donate what you don’t use.
  • Ribbons and lace. Tie those sprigs of greenery with bits of ribbon and lace. Give the wine bottles a festive look with lace wrapping. Loop different colors of ribbon around the wine glasses so guests can identify theirs.

Once you start browsing, you’ll find dozens of ideas to make your guests say wow!

Happy thrifting!

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