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Where to Find Good Cheap Old Used Furniture

Updated on July 30, 2017

Beautiful Oak Highboy Dresser

Oak Highboy
Oak Highboy | Source

Is it Cheap Furniture, or Just Inexpensive?

When I say "cheap furniture" I don't mean chintzy furniture. No matter how low the price, furniture needs to be well-made to stand the test of time. I have a house full of used furniture. There are two reasons for this; it is less expensive than buying it new, and I like vintage furniture.

Buying used furniture, even at bargain prices, does not mean that you have to settle for lower quality. I'm sure you've heard the phrase "They don't make it like they used to." It's true, that's why you can often get used furniture, that is made better, for a lower price than you would pay for new furniture.

Keep in mind that condition is very important to the value of vintage furniture. A piece that is in less than mint condition is still cool, but you should be able to get it at a substantially lower price.

Buying Used Furniture at Thrift Stores

The first thing that comes to mind for many people, when they think of used furniture, is thrift stores. Sometimes, you can find a good deal there. However, in the last several years, I have found it much harder to find a bargain at a thrift store.

Thrift stores used to have a kind of stigma attached to them, but now, many more people feel comfortable shopping in thrift stores. Probably because of the expanded customer base, prices in most of them have gone up.

You have to be careful too, just because it's in a thrift store does not mean it's a bargain. I've even seen cheap furniture, like what they sell at Kmart, for sale at thrift stores priced higher that what it sold for new. In addition, all of the merchandise at thrift stores was donated to them, so it does often tend to be lower quality items that people are not worried about getting their money out of.

Visit the Re-store

I recently paid a visit to the "Re-store." It's the Habitat for Humanity salvage store. If you have one in your town it's worth a look. They sell mostly used appliances and fixtures for the home, but they did have some used furniture there, and it was priced much better than the thrift store in town.

Yard Sale Furniture

Yard sales are prime territory for finding bargains on furniture, and one of my favorite places to shop.

If the people are moving away, they want to get rid of the stuff. If they can make a little gas money, that’s great. They don't have the luxury that a thrift store has, of waiting for the right customer to come along.

If you have cash, and see many pieces of furniture that you want, make an offer on the whole lot. You will probably get a better price than if you priced out each piece.

Estate Sales

Estate sales often have an appraiser come in to estimate the value of the items for sale. Therefore, you are less likely to get used furniture for pennies on the dollar than at a yard sale. However, you can still often get quality furniture for less than you would pay at an antique store or second hand store.

Classified Ads

I still like to look in the newspaper, at the classified ads. There are often some nice single items you can pick up there for a song.

If a yard sale or estate sale is advertised there, often they will list some of the items they will be offering.

If there is a phone number, call it. You may be able to buy the best items before the sale even starts. If not, and you know there is a big-ticket item you are interested in, be sure to get there early.

Flea Market or Swap Meet

The advantage of going to a flea market or swap meet is that there are many vendors in close proximity, so you have more to choose from there than if you go to a yard sale or estate sale.

There are usually a wide range of sellers there. Some of them are just people who brought their yard sale stuff to the market so they could get more foot traffic. However, many of them make their living this way, and they have bought the stuff elsewhere to resell. You will pay more for those items, but many of those professional vendors know how to pick out the good stuff. If you go regularly you will get to know who has a good eye and quality merchandise.

While you're at the flea market you may want to check out some of the new furniture for sale there. Usually that will not be high quality or well made furniture, but it may suit your needs.

Craigslist

Craigslist is the modern-day classified ad. Good deals seem to be snapped up very quickly, so if you see something you like, act fast. I live in a rural area, so I think there is a smaller pool of users here. I have seen some great deals that friends and family who live down in the city have gotten from Craigslist, and I did recently get a real bargain on a vintage Wedgewood stove.

Express Yourself and Save Money!

It does not have to cost a fortune to furnish your house. Even if you don’t have much money, you don’t have to make do with milk crates and pillows on the floor. Furnishing a house with used furniture can be a fun and creative reflection of your personality, and it can save you buckets of money!

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    • Sherry Hewins profile image
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      Sherry Hewins 4 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      It sounds like quite a score Suzanne Day. I hope you had a couple of strong backs to help you get that fold-out couch home.

    • Suzanne Day profile image

      Suzanne Day 4 years ago from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

      I've bought some furniture at the local thrift shop and you can get quite the bargain! I got a fold out couch for 1/10 of the price of a new one, in great condition. I agree that wooden furniture stands the test of time well and you can always re-varnish it.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image
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      Sherry Hewins 4 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Thanks for your visit Au fait. That's a good point about the refinishing. I refinished an old dresser I found at a yard sale, and replaced all the hardware, and it looks like a completely different piece. I used polyurethane on it and boy is that a tough finish, I have my fish tank sitting on it now and the finish has held up even through that.

      Of course, if you have a real antique, you should not refinish it as it can reduce the value of the piece.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 4 years ago from North Texas

      I love old wood furniture that is well made. It has so much character and when you make a find at a yard sale it is often very inexpensive too. If it needs refinishing it looks for gorgeous when it's done. New furniture can't compare and it costs so much more.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Old furniture is such a lovely idea for any home and you have mentioned the correct places of where on can easily find such furniture.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image
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      Sherry Hewins 4 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Victorian furniture, and other ornate styles are not very trendy right now. I think a lot of people are drawn to the mid-century modern style now, looking for those clean lines and uncluttered look. Those of us that have some Victorian pieces should preserve them, someday I'm sure they will be in demand again. Thanks for visiting and commenting Dolores Monet.

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 4 years ago from East Coast, United States

      Sherry, your secretary is beautiful! I too love old furniture and just about everything I own is used. In my area there are several great shops - two upscale consignment shops and a private thrift store run by people who do house clean-outs. I have noticed that Victorian furniture can be had at bargain prices these days. I think young people just don't want it and older folks are getting rid of stuff.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image
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      Sherry Hewins 4 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      trish1048: You sound like my kind of girl. You're right, the hunt is the best part. With this kind of shopping you take the treasures you find, any specific items have to be on the long-term list. Maybe you'll stumble across them someday.

    • trish1048 profile image

      trish1048 4 years ago

      I so relate to this. Anything old is a passion of mine. I've sold at flea markets and shopped at estate sales, thrift stores, antique shops and yard sales. I used to have two places that I loved and shopped at regularly. The owners knew me from my very frequent visits, and quite often, made me deals I couldn't refuse. Sadly, neither place is in business any longer. One moved to another location not convenient for me, and the other moved out of state.

      In their place, I do have a favorite junk store. The place is huge and is literally filled from floor to ceiling, wall to wall. Anything and everything can be found there. While I do find some of the prices steep, for that kind of shop, there are still many bargains to be found. This place also gives me good deals because I go there often.

      Pretty much the only new furniture I have is my living room set and entertainment center. My bedroom is all antique shop finds.

      It's been a very long time since I shopped anywhere since the economy tanked, and also because I have limited space.

      But you are so right, buying 2nd or 3rd hand is a good way to go. Not only do I love buying old things, but the hunt is also exciting. I especially love when I stumble upon a treasure I didn't know I wanted, or an item of value offered for peanuts.

      Happy hunting!

    • Sherry Hewins profile image
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      Sherry Hewins 4 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Thanks joym7

    • joym7 profile image

      Joy 4 years ago from United States

      Great Hub... Excellent work.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image
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      Sherry Hewins 4 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Thanks socalpb

    • socalpb profile image

      socalpb 4 years ago

      Some solid good advice!

    • Sherry Hewins profile image
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      Sherry Hewins 4 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      noturningback, thanks for commenting and adding your suggestion.

    • noturningback profile image

      noturningback 4 years ago from Edgewater, MD. USA

      I like your story and would just like to add on more place to try shopping at, consignment shops. I used to co-own and operate one and many times you can work with those looking to make a sale by negotiating on the price.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image
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      Sherry Hewins 4 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      I appreciate it midget38

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      This not only saves costs, but also gives us a way to design our homes with furniture that is hard to find in the usual furniture stores. Thanks for sharing, Sherry. Am passing it on.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image
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      Sherry Hewins 4 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Hi Deb, another example of how good furniture stands the test of time. I'm sure your highboy is serving you well and someday you will pass it on. I love the rocker too.

    • DeborahNeyens profile image

      Deborah Neyens 4 years ago from Iowa

      This hub caught my eye because I have an oak highboy that looks very much like the one in your first photo. I bought it from my brother-in-law when he was moving. I love the mission rocking chair!

    • Sherry Hewins profile image
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      Sherry Hewins 5 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Thanks so much for your visit baygirl33. HubPages has really inspired me to try to take better photos. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do.

    • baygirl33 profile image

      victoria 5 years ago from Hamilton On.

      Hey! I just came to your site after you commented on my old furniture hub.

      You have beautiful pieces! I love the highboy.

      And you've taken the pics so well.I must get a place set up just for pictures.

      Lovely hub.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image
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      Sherry Hewins 5 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Thanks for commenting and the votes Peggy W. I started out with used furniture out of necessity. Later, when I could afford new furniture, I usually found I liked the old furniture better.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      We have several pieces of furniture in our home that we purchased from a flea market type place that used to be here in Houston. It was covered, air conditioned and was only open weekends and had a huge number of stalls selling all types of furnishings. It used to be a fun place to spend time. Your ideas are great. Even television shows have their designers picking up bargains at thrift shops and using or re-purposing them. It is a good way to end up with better furniture for less cost. Up and useful votes.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image
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      Sherry Hewins 5 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Thanks for noticing, it is nice isn't it? Good luck in your quest, thanks for taking the time to comment.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      You have really beautiful furniture. I would love to get older furniture for the quality, and I have tried to find some at thrift stores but was not able to. Thanks for these additional places to find them. I need to take the time to stop at yard sales and see what they have to offer. I usually just see the sale on my way home from the grocery store and don't want the food to spoil. Now I know I should drive back after I've put the groceries away. Voted up.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image
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      Sherry Hewins 5 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Thanks for commenting Nell Rose. People are really starting to see the value in those nice old pieces. I'm afraid bargains are going to get harder to find. That's nice when you're the seller though, and you get to benefit from it

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Love the photos, and yes I love buy the cheap furniture at yard sales etc, in fact I don't think I have bought something like these brand new for years, the older they get the better, I sold off one of my aunts tallboys a few years ago for her at auction, over a 1,000 pounds, approx 1,500 dollars! she was so pleased! and yes she got another one! lol!

    • Sherry Hewins profile image
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      Sherry Hewins 5 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Thanks Janet. We didn't bring much furniture from the Ranch. The only think I can think of is that tall stool; Bryan calls it his family heirloom. The captain's chairs we have now are much nicer than those that were at the Ranch.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image
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      Sherry Hewins 5 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Great tips B. Leekley. I've always been a day late on Freecycle. I think sometimes the thrift store managers don't take condition into account when they are pricing furniture. They price it at what one like it in perfect condition went for on ebay. What gets me is when even the crappy furniture is expensive.

    • profile image

      Janet Pecoraro 5 years ago

      Beautiful photos! I have a lawyers bookcase, but yours has leaded glass! I still have my oak captains chairs from Boulder Bay. Were any of your nice pieces from the Ranch?

    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 5 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Good advice. Up, Useful, Interesting, and shared.

      I'm guessing the reason the price of the best quality used furniture went up in some thrift stores is that it's so easy nowadays to self-appraise an item using the Internet. I know that is so of books, and I suppose it is so of whatever else. If a thrift store manager is not really an expert on used furniture values, he or she may misinterpret prices found online and overprice items.

      I've noticed a big difference in resale store prices from town to town and between stores. Goodwill keeps an eye out for vintage items and lists them online. I don't suppose they do that with furniture, but they are probably hip to what is vintage. We get better furniture deals at Salvation Army. Like, for her arts and crafts projects, my wife bought a drafting table there for $15 that new would have cost her way over $100 new, and we got similar deals on our desk chairs.

      In whatever small city we've lived, we've had good luck with Freecycle. Like when we were in Santa Fe awhile back, we got a queen matress set and a couple of recliners and much else.

      Here in Kalamazoo there are some used furniture consignment shops. They have some beautiful items. Someday we'll shop at them.

      Even better than a yard sale is a neighborhood yard sale. Go early to get the best furniture. At one in June we got a good looking hutch for $10.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image
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      Sherry Hewins 5 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Thank you so much courtyB3. I'm so glad you liked it.

    • courtyB3 profile image

      Courtney B. 5 years ago from New Jersey

      Ohh love this article. i will be sharing on FB!!

    • Sherry Hewins profile image
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      Sherry Hewins 5 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      lesliebyars : I'm glad you enjoyed my hub. A lot of people have discovered thrift stores during the current economy.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image
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      Sherry Hewins 5 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Thank you Lipnancy, that dresser is one of my favorite pieces. I'm sure it's better than any new dresser in my price range.

    • profile image

      lesliebyars 5 years ago

      I love your suggestions. I know that used to I wouldn't go into the thrift store like I do now. Times are hard and if money is short and if I can find a great deal somewhere, I take it. I enjoyed reading your hub.

    • Lipnancy profile image

      Nancy Yager 5 years ago from Hamburg, New York

      Your dresser in the first picture is simply beautiful. My mother pretty much furnished her house this way simply because she enjoyed redoing furniture. Great hub.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image
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      Sherry Hewins 5 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      That's a good suggestion for make-do furniture EuroCafeAuLait. For a while, when I first moved here, I used book shelves to store clothing. They actually worked pretty well as you can see the whole stack and go straight to what you want.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image
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      Sherry Hewins 5 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Thanks for commenting Denise Handlon.

    • EuroCafeAuLait profile image

      Anastasia Kingsley 5 years ago from Croatia, Europe

      Hi Sherry, just wanted to add something more. In a real pinch, duck-taped open faced boxes can be used for a make-shift armor in a hurry. We had four of us in a small bedroom and by taping a set of narrow boxes together, we had a chest of drawers to stash socks and undies in until we found something more durable. They need to be fastened together in pairs and then "tutto completo" for a sturdier makeshift cardboard lifesaver / organizer.

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Love your suggestions here and they are all places I've enjoyed catching a good bargain!

    • Sherry Hewins profile image
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      Sherry Hewins 5 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Indeed, each piece has a history. You will always remember how you came to get it

    • TeachableMoments profile image

      TeachableMoments 5 years ago from California

      Thanks for the wonderful ideas. I love yard sales. I can't pass one without stopping to see if there is a hidden treasure tucked away somewhere. It drives my husband crazy. I think used furniture has character. You know it has a real story to tell compared to a sofa you can find at any IKEA.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image
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      Sherry Hewins 5 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Thanks for the upvotes EuroCafeAuLait. There are 825 ReStores across the US and Canada.

    • EuroCafeAuLait profile image

      Anastasia Kingsley 5 years ago from Croatia, Europe

      Thanks Sherry for the very practical suggestions. Your highboy is a real beauty. I never heard of the Re-Store until now, are they all over? You gave some great reasons why vintage furniture is sturdier and a better choice than new furniture. Voted up and Useful. Regards, Euro