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PSA: Thrifting Vs. Antiquing

Many, many people use both "thrifting" and "antiquing" as interchangeable terms to describe buying used goods. I'm here to tell you to stop right now, thank you very much. 🛑

Just because a store specializes in items that were previously owned doesn't mean it's a thrift shop. There's a big difference between thrifting and antiquing:


Thrift Stores

Goodwill in Omaha, NE

A selection of used underwear at a Goodwill store in Omaha, NE.

A thrift store is usually a charitable institution*, like Salvation Army or Goodwill, that typically acquires its inventory by accepting donations. They sell a wide variety of items from every time period. Prices are low since the locations retrieve their inventory at no cost.

When an item is donated to a thrift store, it is priced and put on the sales floor in its department. Thrift shops don't have many restrictions when it comes to what they will put on their shelves.

* There are also for-profit thrift stores, but we're not talking about that right now.


Antique Stores

Funky Finds Vintage & Retro in Des Moines, IA

Funky Finds Vintage & Retro in Des Moines, IA. The store offers a collection of items from the 1950s through 1970s.

An antique store offers a curated shopping experience. Antique dealers are generally very knowledgable of the products they sell, and they usually worked hard—and paid—to get their inventory. The stores focus on specific periods in time.

When an item is brought into an antique store, it has often been cleaned, refinished, and/or repaired beforehand. It is then priced accordingly. Prices range from low to high based on how much time and work have gone into a piece, as well as its appraised value.

Reserve 99 in Omaha, NE

Reserve 99 in Omaha, NE. A unique combination of a curated boutique thrift shop.

I'm not saying one's better than the other!

I love both thrifting and antiquing equally. I'm merely trying to explain the difference between the two, because to many people, buying used goods is unfamiliar territory. These two terms are not synonymous, and there are many other terms in between.

Of course you can sometimes find antiques at thrift shops. You can also find incredibly good deals at antique stores. Just don't walk into an antique store saying you're "spending the day thrifting" unless you want the clerk to cringe.

Buying used is great for the environment, and shopping locally is good for the economy. Any way you do it is up to you!

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