$econdhand First Class

A thrift store fanatic shares her shopping secrets

Archive for the tag “mold”

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!


Caveat Emptor


Be careful of upholstered items
that smell moldy or musty.

Be very careful what you bring into your home. A bargain that comes complete with toxins or worse can cost you more than just money. You can find things worse than pet pee stains on rugs or sofa.

Toxins and mold

Toxic chemicals used in the manufacture or the use of illegal drugs in a home can penetrate fabrics such as curtains, rugs, or upholstered furniture. The EPA has guidelines for handling and disposing of contaminated items. See EPA guidelines on handling meth labs. These sofas and chairs should not end up in a thrift store or resale shop but sadly they could.

Upholstered furniture, rugs, or draperies that have been saturated in a flood can develop mold.

Bed bugs

Bed bugs are on the rise again, and they aren’t just in bedtime rhymes. Check these sites for more information about identifying and dealing with bedbugs:

  • WebMD has a slide show about the effects of bedbugs.
  • Virginia Tech, Department of Entomology has information about identifying bedbugs

Apply the stink and stain test

If the item has brown, red, or yellow stains or streaks on it, move on.

If the item smells like a dog kennel, a litter box, smells moldy, or has a chemical odor such as ammonia, move on quickly and get out the hand sanitizer. No bargain is worth taking the chance of bringing toxic chemicals, germs, or unpleasant critters into your home.

If the item passes the stink and stain test, you’ll still want to clean it thoroughly. If you can’t put it in the washer, check the care label or search the Internet for tips. The websites eHow and channel4 4Homes have useful information about how to clean various items.

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