What is in a Thrift Store?

Thrift store shopping is an unfamilar subject for a lot of people, especially for people who have never been to a thrift store before. If this applies to you, maybe you’ve wondered what’s inside a thrift store? 

Most thrift stores have an assortment of clothes, accessories, knick-knacks, dishes, glassware, lamps, pictures, and a whole bunch of miscellaneous stuff. Bigger thrift stores will probably have furniture as well. 

The question is hard to answer because anything could be in a thrift store. The fun part about thrifting is that you never know what you can come across. Thrift stores are a collection of other people’s memories and past treasures along with lots of random stuff.

With this being said I will try my best to tell you what’s inside a thrift store. As a part-time Salvation Army employee, I hope I can give you an idea of what to expect.

At The Salvation Army, we organize items in a particular way. There are 9 categories of stuff in our stores. The first category is clothing.


1. Clothing

The biggest category is clothing. All clothing is organized by color not size. We have clothing for men, women, kids, and infants. These 4 sections will have many racks for different types of clothing. Below are all the types of clothing that are in each section.

  • Women’s Clothing

Sleeveless shirts, blouses, t-shirts, button-downs, blazers, long-sleeved shirts, sweaters, hoodies, jackets, khakis, capris, sweat pants, jeans, skirts, dresses, shorts, yoga pants, leggings, compression shirts, bras, lingerie, pajamas, robes, scrubs, bathing suits, and maternity

  • Men’s Clothing

T-shirts, polos, short-sleeved dress shirts, long-sleeved dress shirts, blazers, sweaters, jackets, compression shirts, jerseys, khakis, slacks, jeans, cargo shorts, basketball shorts, pajama bottoms, and bathing suits.

  • Kids Clothing (Girls and Boys)

T-shirts, polos, dress shirts, long-sleeved shirts, sweaters, hoodies, jackets, khakis, sweat pants, jeans, skirts, dresses, shorts, cargo shorts, leggings, compression shirts, sleeveless shirts, pajamas, and bathing suits

  • Infants Clothing (Girls and Boys)

Tops, long-sleeved shirts, sweaters, onesies, sleepers, pants, and pajamas

2. Accessories

The following are accessories that can be found at The Salvation Army.

  • Shoes 

There will be shoes in the men’s, women’s and kid’s clothing sections. 

Women’s shoes may include but are not limited to; boots, heels, running shoes, sneakers, and sandals. 

Men’s shoes may include but are not limited to; sneakers, running shoes, dress shoes, sandals, vans/skate shoes, and boots.

Children’s shoes may include but are not limited to; running shoes, sneakers, and sandals. 

  • Hats 

The selection of hats includes anything from sports caps to cowboy hats. We get all different types of hats for both men and women.

  • Belts 

The Salvation Army has a large variety of belts with different sizes and designs. There are belts for women, men, and children.

  • Jewelry 

The store that I work in has a jewelry counter that contains necklaces, bracelets,  rings, earrings, belt buckles, and occasionally watches. Most of the jewelry isn’t real metal but we have a magnet just in case.

  • Luggage 

The Salvation Army has many different types of suitcases, travel bags, computer bags, and duffel bags. 

  • Purses

The Salvation Army always has a large selection of purses and handbags.

  • Ties

Ties are well supplied and can be found in the men’s section of stores.

  • Sunglasses and wallets 

Sunglasses and wallets are hit or miss items that may or may not be in the store.

 3. Furniture

Most of The Salvation Army stores will have furniture but some of the smaller stores might not. At the store that I work for the furniture is organized as if it were part of a room in your house. 

Below are common furniture pieces that can be found a The Salvation Army.

Dining sets, coffee tables, nightstands, end tables, tv-stands, dressers, bookshelves, stools, chairs, recliners, love seats, couches, bed frames

Occasionally we receive patio sets and sectionals, but they are less common than the furniture listed above. 

4. Bric a brac

Just like the clothing, the bric a brac category is organized by color. Things like glassware, dishes, mugs, knick-knacks, ornaments, small vases, and figurines can all be found on the same shelves.

Kitchen supplies such as pots, pans, spatulas, and tongs are placed on separated shelving in the bric a brac category .

Items made out of wood also has its own section of shelving in the bric a brac category. Things like hand-carved statues, jewelry boxes, small chests, and small woven baskets can be found in the wood section.

5. Home Decor

  • Picture and Mirrors

At the store that I work in pictures, paintings, and mirrors are hung on the walls throughout the store. There is also a back corner dedicated to extra pictures, paintings, and mirrors along with picture frames.

  • Rugs

There are usually about 5-10 rugs hung up in the store that I work in. All the rugs are sanitized before being displayed to the public.

  • Other Decor

Table lamps, artificial plants, larger vases, and throw pillows can be found on furniture throughout the furniture category. You may be able to find large artificial plants and floor lamps in the furniture category as well.

6. Linens

Bed Spreads, sheets, blankets, towels, hand towels, dish towels, and place mats are just some of the linens that can be found at The Salvation Army stores.

7. Stationary

The stationary corner can have a variety of items. Below are just some of the common items.

Paper, notebooks, binders, folders, pencils, pens, envelopes, thank-you notes, invitations, photo albums, and arts/craft supplies.

8. Electronics

The electronics category has a variety of different items.

  • Electronic Players

DVD Players, CD Players, VCRs, and VHS

  • Small appliances

Microwaves, coffee pots, popcorn machines, toasters, waffle makers, portable grills, juicers, and blenders.

  • Hair Products

Hair irons and blow dryers are common items that can be found in the electronics category.

  • Other electronics

Alarm clocks, reading lamps, speakers, and electric fans.

9. Miscellaneous

  • Books 

The Salvation Army sells both hardcover and softcover books. You can find a wide selection of books at any of our thrift stores. Many genres are donated to The Salvation Army. There could be anything from mysteries like the James Patterson novels to helpful lifestyle books. There are also a lot of fictional novels and how-to books. Sometimes popular series like Harry Potter or The Hunger Games are donated as well.

  • Bikes 

The store that I work for usually has 4 to 5 bikes on the floor at all times. There can be bikes of all sizes and colors, for children, women, and men.

  • Mattresses/box springs *Not included for all stores

You have to buy mattresses and boxsprings together. All mattress sets are refurbished and sanitized. If the location your shopping at does have mattress sets they will be in the back, not on the sales floor. So just ask an employee if they have mattresses.

You can click here for the prices of all mattress set sizes.

  • DVDs and CDs

The Salvation Army has a wide selection of movies and music on CD and DVD.

  • Other random stuff

Crutches, large baskets, adult diapers, lawn chairs, sports water bottles, and other outdoor equipment.

And that’s all of the 9 categories. Just to make things clear, these are not all the items that are in The Salvation Army thrift stores. These are just some of the common items that you have a good chance of seeing.

I appreciate you reading this post.


The Salvation Army Donations Guy


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