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8 Must-Have Items to Bring To the Pay By The Pound Thrift Store

When you show up at a pay by the pound store, it’s important to come prepared. This is an experience unlike any other traditional thrift store and to be successful you’ll need a few essential items.

These are some of the essential things you to have when you got to the pay by the pound thrift store. These are things we use every time we go and we highly suggest that you do too!

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There are two reasons you should always bring gloves to pay by the pound stores, 1) some stuff is just disgusting to touch, and 2) to keep from getting cut.

I’m not exactly sure how some of this stuff made it through the retail stores before getting to the outlet, but there are some gross things in those bins. So having gloves is a must for that.

Secondly, items in the bins will get thrown around and broken. I’ve heard many horror stories like this one where people have been cut by items in the bins. That’s stuff is not sanitary and it could be very dangerous.

In some cases, you’ll need to take your gloves of to “get a feel” for the item… literally. When you are digging through clothing and textiles, you’ll want to be able to feel the material and the quality of the items. Just be careful when you’re digging. There could be other things mixed in that shouldn’t be there.

We highly recommend that you use these cut resistant gloves to help protect your hands from the dangerous things that could be at the bottom of the bins.

Hand Sanitizer

Even if you wore gloves, it’s still a good idea to use hand sanitizer. You likely took your gloves off as some point, maybe when looking through the clothing bins.

We always keep a bottle of hand sanitizer in our car to use when we’re done shopping. It might sound like we’re a little paranoid, but things can be pretty gross and it’s just better to be safe than sorry.

Bags and Totes

Most pay by the pound thrift stores don’t bag your items for you. You’ll need something to take your items home in. Also, if your store allows it, you might find it easier to carry an IKEA bag around rather than pushing a cart. You need to check your store’s rules to see if they allow you to bring in bags.

We always like to put totes in our car so that when we bring out our full cart of goods, we can just load them right into the totes. It makes it easier to carry them into the house when we get home as well.


This is probably more for people who intend on reselling their finds. A smartphone is a must have to research everything before buying.

If you’re a reseller, you should pick up everything that catches your eye and when you’re all done for the day, sort through your finds and research their online prices. Some things you’ll just know by experience that it will sell and for how much but other things will need to be researched first.

When we research on eBay, always look in the active and sold listings to see what is currently listed and what has sold in the past 90-days. This will give us an idea of supply and demand. It will also help you see what the items are worth and how much profit you can potentially make.

Bassinet Sheet

People aren’t afraid to show right out of your cart. You have to keep an eye on your cart and watch over your finds. One really handy trick is to carry a bassinet sheet with you. It’s just the right size to stretch over your cart and hide everything you’ve picked up.

We’ve actually had this happen to us before a few years ago. We picked up a Toy Story Woody doll that was in really great condition (only missing his hat). It sat in the top seat of our shopping cart, we turned around for one second to look in a bin, and it was gone.

If you forget to bring a sheet with you, you can always find a blanket or something in the bins to drape over your cart and hid everything. When you’re ready to check out, just ditch the blanket.

List of Things to Look For

You should have a good idea of exactly what you’re looking for to save time and effort. Before you arrive, either write a specific list of what you’re on the lookout for or make a mental note of the exact items you’re going for. This way, if you specifically want to get clothing, you won’t waste time looking at other things. Use your list as a reference point to make sure that you are hitting all the areas you wanted.

Here are some of the normal things that we look for:

  1. Anything that can be parted out: small appliances (coffee machines, food processors, etc), vacuum parts, games, etc

  2. Anything new in package: games, toys, housewares… ANYTHING

  3. Furbies

  4. Vintage electronics: cameras, cassette players, radios, etc.

  5. Name brand clothing or any items that have tags

  6. Name brand shoes (although it can be hard to find matching pairs since items get shuffled around so much)

  7. Oneida silverware

  8. Leather bags and purses

A Good Eye

Most of the treasures aren’t going to be sitting right on top… and if they are, most of the time someone else will grab it be for you do. You have to dig, dig, dig. After being there for a while, everything might start looking the same but you have to stay attentive to anything that you didn’t see before.

I’ve even found that it’s a good idea to go through bins that you previously went through because you’ll find things on the second go around that you didn’t see the first time.

Another Person to Help

We always like to hit the outlet with at least two of us together. It’s beneficial for having two sets of eyes to see everything. One person might go through the bins and find nothing while the other person follows and catches the things they missed.

Also, having a second person to watch over the cart is very beneficial. It’s difficult to bring your cart with you when you start going through new bins that they bring out. With a second person, they can stay with the cart while the other person attacks the new merchandise. Plus you can work together when it comes to putting back items you decide not to buy.

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