Thrift Shop Adventures: 40 True Tales of Hilarious and Unusual FindsBy John P.
The experience of thrift shopping is an adventurous one, with even repeat customers not really knowing what they might find when they visit their favorite store. What lies underneath all those layers of stacked clothing waiting to be unearthed by patient rummagers? Their hands quickly sift through that roil of secondhand clothes to discover a whole miscellany of oddities left behind by strangers. Some unused goods are good-heartedly offered and picked up from community donation drives, others are purchased wholesale or sold by consignment.
It’s a good business that’s not likely to vanish in the near future. In fact, it seems to be inviting a wider age group each year as more people discover the benefits of economizing. If you need a bit of inspiration before hitting up your local thrift store, read these shoppers’ stories of peculiar items they’ve found and their reactions to the strange discoveries.
A Signed Paperback Book by Stephen King
Unlike iPads or other branded electronics, paperback books are rarely thought of as valuable collector’s items. So, they’re often left to gather dust in a corner, ignored by non-readers and bibliophobes. Whoever owned this novel must have passed on without having the chance to let anyone know about the true value of this old, worn paperback.
A lucky thrift shopper who understands the value of literary work quickly snatched this autographed book from the shelves, rushed to pay $1.99 at the counter and tucked the purchase in HIS POCKET, hoping nobody would discover the treasure in his hands. He left the store in a state of utter glee. What a steal!
A Lunch Box Nobody Else Would Touch
Don’t we all get sick and tired of people not being able to keep their hands to themselves? There’s nothing worse than finding out that the food you were so looking forward to eating has ended up in somebody else’s stomach. It looks like this shopper will never have that problem ever again.
Thanks to this makeshift lunch box that misleads food snatchers, this woman will never have to deal with someone trying to steal her lunch again. It’s an odd item to carry around at work, but that’s just part of the good old thrift store fashion.
A Witness to the Atrocities of the Great War
People who stop by at secondhand stores don’t always come out with something functional. This habitual thrift store punter purchased an antiquated item from the First World War. They were enamored by its anachronistic presence but didn’t really know what to do with it.
It turned out that the last film used by the original owner remains inside, undeveloped. It was common during the time for soldiers to bring cameras into battle to document their experiences, slung around the chest or tucked in a waist bag as they fought in the trenches.
Kitty Wall Clock
This $2 wall clock is pleasing to the eye, with gorgeous fur babies taking the place of boring old numbers that only remind us of the never-ending passage of time and the ceaseless tasks that need to be accomplished minute by minute, hour by hour.
The kitties tip their heads as if to beckon you to come closer. Their cute and innocent stares make the new owner smile inwardly, even when they’re in a rush. We wonder if the clock meows instead of chiming on the hour!
An Old Game Console for Just Ten Bucks
It may come as a surprise to many, but old game consoles like this Nintendo Entertainment System (which hit the market back in 1985) have taken a similar route as antique furniture. In other words, they continue to appreciate in value over time.
A shopper bought this set for just $10, when one could sell this today at a whooping $13,000, and it even comes packaged with a few games and a gun. They don’t make things like this anymore, and this shopper was lucky to find such a bargain.
A Cheeky Mug
This would be a wonderful gift for nurses, doctors, family members, and friends who take regular medication. It’s really not about the mug itself, which one can buy anywhere, but the cheekiness of its message. This would make the recipient smile each time they used it, whether they were on medication at the time or not.
One can get a similar mug for about fifteen to twenty dollars. This shopper purchased this funny item for a few bucks. Thrift stores are definitely a happy place for many people.
It’s hard to put a price tag on something that makes us happy. From songs to cherished trinkets, many things in life are evocative of memories that transport us to times of milk and honey. This shopper bought this James Bond-esque credit card perhaps because he thought it would be helpful to have in his wallet. You never know when you might need to do some espionage.
Shaken, not stirred… in one’s best impersonation of the legendary spy. Not only did this fake credit card impress the owner’s friends, but to his surprise, it turned out to contain lock picking tools too. What a find!
Retro Futuristic Sunglasses
Secondhand store items are very cheap, so a shopper can walk into the local shop and come out, ala Superman from a phone booth on the corner, with a totally different look. This guy sports retro-futuristic shades that are reminiscent of Tron or 90s breakdancers about to have a classic street showdown.
His outfit also speaks of the 90s generation. He’s sporting technicolor up, which was the most popular style for 90s kids. For just a few dollars, the shopper got to live his childhood dream once again.
Ghost of a Shopper’s Past Life
People take more time window shopping at the local thrift store than in regular shops, almost begging to be surprised at every turn, enjoying the experience of not knowing what they might discover. Nothing could have prepared this guy for what awaited him in the antique section. Even Elvis looks surprised!
What could be more shocking than to see yourself staring back at you, locked inside an old picture frame? It turned out to be a different person, of course, but the similarities between them are eerily striking – so much so that it could be mistaken as his ghost from his past life.
Photos of an Imaginary Family
We come into this world without the power to choose our families. However, many people wish they had been born into another household. Perhaps they’re able to relate to a best friend’s dad more than their own. Maybe they wish they had brothers and sisters that could be trusted during challenging times. This thrift store has an unusual solution for such dreamers.
It sells anonymous photographs of people you wish were your family. Who buys those to display on their mantelpiece or inside their wallet? It feels like only someone with a shady agenda would want to display wholesome pictures of people they don’t know.
Starter Kit for Vampire Hunters
This story goes to show that there are no limits to what you might find at a neighborhood thrift store. What appears to be a violin case when closed is actually a customized vampire slayer kit, with the cruciform fitted in, along with the wooden stake that’s probably made, as was the ancient preference of its practitioners, of hawthorn wood.
With a comprehensive kit like this, its owner would have been safe from the bloodsucking undead. Had this been the 1800s, they could even have ventured into Count Dracula’s neighborhood.
Bent Grandfather Clock
A shopper couldn’t resist buying this bent artistic pendulum clock at a local secondhand store/ It now lives in a corner of their home, grabbing the attention of guests and making the traditional furniture jealous of its presence. It’s as if the ancient timepiece were a butler waiting to lead visitors on a tour around a grand mansion.
This isn’t something you would find in a typical furniture store, and it kind of makes things lively in a way because of the animated impression people perceive from it. Perhaps the best spot to locate this clock is by the main door, so it can act as an usher welcoming guests into the home.
A Freakish Teddy Bear
This deformed teddy bear was an absentminded purchase by a customer who intended to give it as a surprise to her daughter. The girl was shocked to see the freakish bear, with its face embroidered on its belly, and she didn’t know if she should be glad to receive it or start to cry.
This is far from the Teddy people loved – the one dedicated to Roosevelt. It is more like an item moviegoers would see in a low-budget horror movie, sprinkled with blood. It sits out of place, isolated from the rest of the child’s stuffed toys.
With just a few dollars, customers are able to purchase three or four times the quantity of goods they could get from a department store. It also makes more sense nowadays to purchase secondhand items with the ever-skyrocketing fuel price taking its toll on the cost of living.
This man posed for a photo with an enthusiastic thumb up as a sign of recommendation. He is clearly stoked with his purchase of this hoodie depicting the breadth of the kingdom of mushrooms. It’s informative fashion, with every fungus shown having its corresponding scientific name printed alongside it.
A Wrench with a Secret
Even when examined up close, this pipe wrench looks like the real deal, with its serrated jaws and the seemingly greasy effect of its handle. But the owner shows how light the copy really is, being built of plastic, raising it with just the tips of his fingers and barely exerting any effort in doing so.
Threaten a cop with this prop, and you might just get shot at. Pretending to bludgeon a friend with it would be safer. Just make sure you put on the theatrics of The Walking Dead or Resident Evil, so everyone knows you’re just doing it for laughs.
Stan Lee Smacks Batman
Stan Lee is generally known for his Marvel creations that include Iron Man, the X-Men, and the Hulk. This metal sign collectible depicting Lee smacking Batman is analogous to the conflict between two superhero universes – Marvel vs. DC. This would make a great addition to a fan’s collection, yet this one was bought for an insignificant price.
This should be hung on the wall of a Marvel-loving man cave, in the company of sports paraphernalia, video game consoles, and fighter plane models.
Chameleon Tape Dispenser
Most people don’t have high expectations when shopping at a thrift store, and that’s why they are easily amused and satisfied with their purchases. They always feel that they get more than their money’s worth, and many of the finds are unusual in a way that is both charming and interesting.
This shopper came out of the store bawling about not getting the item he wanted – a creatively designed chameleon tape holder. Sadly, management had no intention of selling it. It’s the type of article that could keep you company when burning the midnight oil – a seemingly live, communicative companion to keep you motivated while working late into the night.
Random Mug Featuring Random People
Typically, thrift shop managers don’t have strict rules to follow when it comes to refilling their inventory. They just accept the items handed to them and put them on the shelves without much thought or concern. This random coffee mug with a customized photo of complete strangers was donated. Who knows if these guys are still alive or where they may be right now?
It must be strange to be sipping coffee out of a mug featuring a picture of people you don’t know who are all smiling at you. It is highly doubtful that someone would exchange good money for that kooky experience.
Cute Little Devil
A shopper picked up this illustrated book not because he’s an avid reader but because he found the title devilishly mischievous. The thrift shopper couldn’t help but wonder what in the dickens the story was about.
Apparently, this displaced little croc has gotten tired of eating fruit and yearns to eat raw meat like its elders, preferably the delicious flesh of a child. Sadly, the person who owns it picks up the little croc and puts it back in the tub and feeds it bananas. Crocs aren’t really evil because they want to eat children. It’s just their nature.
A Hybrid Beer Glass
This lady shared her strange find – something she’d never have thought to pick up from any store in a million years. It’s a hybrid beer and wine glass invention. Who would think of inventing such a thing?
In the picture, you can see her awkwardly swigging that ice-cold beer by holding the glass from its stem. She’s even opted for the pinky-in-the-air flair. But it seems a bit unwieldy holding it in that manner with the glass filled to the brim.
This young lady had barely checked out the clothes in a single rack, and there were rows of items spread across the store when this artful sweater caught her attention. It may not have had the most pleasing design, but with a gray elephant’s trunk going out to the sleeve, it was certainly the most eye-catching.
This teenage shopper couldn’t help but share her catch with the world. Elephant trunk arm akimbo, she posed as if the large mammal were drinking water from a river in Africa.
Anatomy of a Lady in a Swimsuit
After being urged a couple of times to step out into the sun more confidently, to show more skin, and bravely flaunt her natural beauty, this shopper finally found the resolve to show more than just skin.
The anatomical design of her swimsuit should give everyone a vivid glimpse into the reality that lies beneath her skin. It’s a rather confronting image, but perhaps we should all get a little more comfortable with what we’ve got going on inside.
A Fancy Vest for Cat Lovers
In a world of conflicting opinions between cat and dog owners, this man proudly wears a vest he found at the thrift store with rich embroidery of a dozen felines. He has cats quite literally up to his neck.
It may not be so fashionable. Announcing to the world that you are a veritable cat dad may not be the kind of thing most people dig, but it signals that this man can be patient, caring, and sensitive. Cats may not be as loyal as dogs, but this cat lover dares to love them anyway.
An Ant-infested Dress
While regular shoppers would steer away from a dress like this, wincing at the thought of having ants crawling all over their body, this former employee of a pest company was immediately attracted to it. Honestly, we think it looks pretty dapper!
Proud of her employment history, probably a former employee of the month in the pest killing business, she wore a cardigan over it that’s as red as the fire ant design. This dress makes her look like their queen – the matriarch of the colony.
Apparently, the target market of the thrift store business is no longer limited to the older generations. With the inflation rate showing no signs of dropping, millennials and a few from the younger demographics have discovered the joys of thrifting.
This Generation Z-er proudly showed off the colorful top she found at a thrift shop. It’s covered in hundreds of cool cats, all wearing sunglasses because you’re not really a cool cat if you’re not wearing shades. We dig it!
If only every appliance in a young shopper’s home were all as creative as this helmet-sized Darth Vader toaster, our friends’ homes would be so interesting to explore. With more people now working remotely, stuff like this would inspire ever more ingenious ideas, cultivating a world full of inventive creations.
Excited about this innovative find, the shopper shares a photo of the toaster minutes before making the purchase. All he needs now are some Death Star plates, and he can invite his friends over and impress them with his cool taste in breakfast decor.
This item didn’t stay too long in the shop’s display case, despite its seemingly plain and humble appearance. The guy who purchased it wondered if there were more of these pranking apparatuses that he could buy while checking out its most salient feature at the bottom. The impish ideas of what he could do with it made him giggle.
This was a lucky find and a rare one. This can be found lurking in his kitchen cupboard, ready to come out any time a friend pops round for a cup of coffee and a chat.
Scaled-down things of any kind – from fighter planes to drones and vintage automobile models – seem to be catching the attention of people everywhere. Fans are amazed by the amount of energy it takes to perfect every detail, not missing even the slightest mark on a replica.
This shopper was chuffed with his fully functional miniaturized stove. He tested its capability to cook tiny meals and was pleased to discover that, with a tealight candle, he could indeed heat up a scone.
Hippo Side Table
She knew right then and there, seeing it for the first time at a furniture shop, that this side table would add strong character to a bedroom she’d been decorating. But the price tag on this unique table was simply beyond her budget, so she had to move on and find cheaper options.
What she really liked about its design was that the hippo seemed to be on the verge of rising up from the clear surface of a river, and her imagination filled up the rest of the scene. Fortunately, she was reunited with the long-lost hippo in a secondhand shop, where it was sold way below its original price when she’d first discovered it. She never let it go again.
A Strange Reunion
A lady in her mid-thirties could not believe her eyes when she happened upon a familiar dress sold at a nearby thrift shop she regularly visits. Upon closer examination, the feel of its material unmistakably transported her to a time long past, remembering how, as a much leaner teen, she designed her own dress for a pageant.
She was reunited with the dress she wore when she was in her teens, and it was being sold for $80. After all those years, she imagined how many people could have worn it before it found its way back to her.
The item this shopper found could not be a more western version of the chopstick – made of plastic and connected to a T-Rex’s head. Before asking the saleslady, the customer initially thought it was a strange dinosaur toy with extremely slim legs.
What made it worth the buy was the fact that it allowed kids to learn how to use traditional chopsticks easily. Soon, they’ll no longer have any difficulty picking up sushi at their favorite Japanese restaurant. It also tended to make the dining experience more fun with its biting jaw action.
Pizza Hut Souvenirs
An astonished customer was not sure how to react when he found these novelty items from Pizza Hut, which upon examination, date back to the early 1980s – a time when the world’s largest pizza chain introduced the first pan pizza.
Does it matter if the radio (sporting the classic logo with a red roof design of the establishment’s first restaurant in Wichita State) and the headset (with thick round pizzas for speakers) still work? Of course he bought the set without much thought for its uniqueness alone.
Rare Snake Lamp
Depending on the materials used to assemble this decorative lamp, the pricing could average around a thousand dollars. Nevertheless, the buyer of this rare item said that he was utterly sold on the artist’s idea and design of a unique serpentine standing lamp. He knew he had to buy it right away.
While snakes may not be for everyone, those who are drawn to them will surely fall in love with this device’s exoticness. Placed in a dim room, providing the only light within, one might pretend to ruminate on how to dominate the world like a true villain.
Bag of Tricks
It might be noticed by regular visitors of thrift shops that many of the items on display are not only cheap and highly usable, but they also possess a certain uniqueness of style. The designs can be quite odd, and they sometimes have wisecracks printed on them.
We suppose this bag is similar to Felix the Cat’s everything-in-it bag. It’s ideal for someone who’s quite the trooper, always ready for any kind of scenario that might take place. It has all the things one could ever need at any given time.
The Fluffiest Mailbox Holder
The local postal worker shall walk down the front yard with a smile each time a parcel is delivered, with one of these manatees ready to accept it on behalf of its new owner. Having bought this friendly character, the shopper’s home must now have a Disneyland feel to it, especially if he has similar purchases displayed inside, like that bent grandfather clock that seems to kneel on one knee in greeting.
With its fluffy folds all over, especially around the amiable schnozzle and neck, cool finds like this have the ability to take the stress away from their owners. We’re sure it also lights up smiles on the faces of guests and passers-by.
Parents in today’s busy setting would love to take more time off from their jobs so they could spend time with their kids. However, it’s common for work to interrupt family time. When coworkers call up for a quick referral or last-minute request, it can be enough to injure the mood of a parent-and-child play day.
With a prop like this, however, parents are able to connect with their children instantly. It removes all the gaps that may have developed all the days they were away. Thrift stores have all sorts of funny finds that can help you hype up those special moments.
A Globe Made of Gemstones and Minerals
Walking inside the living room of this lucky shopper’s home, visitors come across this large globe that scintillates the senses. It features golden lines for its latitude, longitude, and the arch of its meridian that rests stably on a bronze plinth.
The countries possess the color of gemstones and minerals that they’re amalgams of, mostly chosen by nation of source, surrounded by dark blue gemstones for oceans. What an incredible find at the secondhand shop! We would love to stumble upon something like this.
Nostalgic Miniature Piano
This miniature piano used to wrest away boredom from Gen X-ers back in the day, emitting electronic sounds, triggering the amazement of children of that era. This was way before iPhones, tablets, and Playstations took over to shorten the attention span of technology-smitten kids.
This shopper was thrilled to share her latest find, along with a sheet of music to play on it. She played with the device, and despite how limited its features are compared to an iPad, it filled the atmosphere with nostalgia for the old days.
Tabby Cat Tissue Dispenser
Cat lovers can’t get enough of feline-related merchandise. Though taking care of cats can be a handful, they still go out there to find cute gifts for their beloved fur babies. On this occasion, the cat-related gift was for the fur parent, not the fur baby.
This thrift shopper shared how the family enjoys pulling tissues from a lifelike cat’s butt. They love this strange thing in a way only cat lovers will understand. Dog lovers are probably confused and perplexed!
Hybrid Pink Flamingo Figurine
A thrift shop customer shared how this figurine perplexed her, with its ballet dancer’s legs holding up a pink flamingo’s upper body. But this didn’t prevent her from purchasing it anyway. There are so many items like this available in thrift stores, making her want to return from time to time. Maybe there’ll be a centaur awaiting her next time she visits.
This tiny creature is reminiscent of Greek Mythology. However, it was clearly thought up by a modern artist, as evidenced by the laptop the creature is using. It’s an item writers would likely keep to remind them that there are no limits to one’s imagination.