What are the most valuable thrift store finds? This is a question I ask myself every time I walk through the musty-smelling aisles of the local thrift store. After all, we’ve all seen the episodes of Antique Roadshow where someone claims to have purchased a thrift-store or garage sale painting for a buck, only to discover it’s worth millions! And while I am invested in the stock market, it should would be nice to not have to wait decades before I can retire. Stumbling across a highly valuable, and extremely underpriced, thrift store treasure just might be my ticket to riches!
Now, with that said, it is becoming way easier for thrift store employees to do their own research on their inventory to discover whether they have treasures in their midst. And while this will help them from undervaluing items, it isn’t a fail-proof solution. This is because, sometimes an item’s high worth is more related to its history than the item itself. For example, a student model Fender guitar might not be all that valuable in and of itself. But, if that same Fender guitar was once owned by Buddy Holly, and you can prove it, then you’re in an entirely new ballgame.
A great example of this is a sweater from West Post that sold at a Goodwill store in Asheville, North Carolina. When the sweater was purchased, it sold for only a few cents, because it was part of a by-the-pound purchase of clothing. However, upon closer inspection, after getting home, the new owners discovered that written on the tag of the sweater as the name “Lombardi” . . . as in the Vince Lombardi!
Realizing that they had a real treasure in their hands, the couple decided to get the sweater appraised and sell it at auction. When the sweater sold, it brought them a sweet $43,000. Not bad for an afternoon at the Goodwill.
I guess, the moral of the story is that a big part of discovering valuable thrift store finds is to look for markings and other identifiers that can build the story around the object. An object in and of itself might be a cool antique and have some value, but if you really want to discover a valuable thrift store item, you first need to discover the story behind the item. A Bob Ross painting is one thing, but a Bob Ross painting with a personal note from Bob written on the back, is an entirely different (and more valuable) thing!
I think you’re getting the idea. Happy Hunting.