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Featured Article

Retro Thrifting

By: vkimo

I have a deep appreciation for the past. While I don't advocate spending all your time contemplating how superior Clarissa Explains It All was to Hannah Monana, I do like to incorporate some retro stuff into my everyday living to keep things legit. Vintage is making a comeback. A lot of products are coming out now styled like they were in the 80s and before. Just stop by Target and you'll see retro designed toasters, throwback T-Shirts, heck even the cereal boxes look like they did in the 70s!

While I think that's a great idea and some of that junk I'd actually buy, it also seems a little too trendy. That's why I like to get the real deal. And that can almost only be found at thrift stores and garage sales. It's a habit of mine to browse the local second hand stores. You'd be surprised at what you can find! Let's browse around and see what areas of life we can add some nostalgic zest to by thrifting!

Not that type of Zest, but close enough.

Home Living & Decor

I'll be the first to admit that while the home furnishings of our youth usually give us a great feeling of remembrance, they look pretty dated in contrast. Remember the couch from Married with Children? You can get something pretty similar by driving down to your local thrift shop. Granted it will smell like cat urine and the floral print in places might have you wondering. I personally like the heavy oak styling of the past. Huge wood entertainment centers that span 8' across and house a 24" TV. You could really set up your basement like a time capsule.

These were a common motif of the 90s. Sprawling structures that housed all the numerous VCR's, receivers and cable boxes a modern family needed for entertainment. With Flatscreen TVs now in excess of 40", these entertainment centers are pretty much obsolete but can still be found dirt cheap at most thrift stores.

Crack open a cold Zima and fall out.

As you can see 80s and 90s era decor is still readily available. Take a trip down to your local thrift shop, I double dog dare you! You could easily convert your guest room or basement into a time capsule. Patrick Nagel prints are ubiquitous and paired with a 20 dollar funky print couch and gold glass coffee table? Yeahhhh, you're doing it right.

Clothing and Fashion

Thrifting retro style is fun. But be careful not to look like a try hard nerd/hipster hybrid. Sure you can get some throwback tees at Target but why not look for the real McCoy? There's some great graphic tees. I took some pictures while shopping the other day and found a Home Improvement tee which is probably impossible to get anywhere other than a second hand store and even a original Beavis and Butthead shirt. Shoes are kind of iffy so I'd shy away from the footwear section unless you don't mind the risk and got some BOOM! Tuff Actin' Tinactin close by. Members Only jackets seem to be in stock as well.

I like to keep my clothing contemporary but I bend a little on shirts and jackets. People spend big money to stand out from the crowd. I can run down and for 15$ get a coat I will never see anyone else wear, ever. Old Patagonia fleeces, Woolrich plaid jackets and vintage puffer jackets are all fair game and look great.

My favorite, The Nirvana Rack.

Funky Electronics

I think I see Number 5 on the second shelf. Number 5 is Alive...

The electronics section is arguably my favorite. There's just so much to explore. Finding anything pre Nintendo 64 is pretty rare but it does happen. I've lucked out a few times with finds as common as Super Mario Duck Hunt carts to scoring on Secret of Mana with the original box. More often that not though you have access to yesteryear's audio technology. Get yourself an old Technics turntable and some sweet wood grain JVC speakers to liven your place up. Remember House Party? Not're living it!

If you have the space and the motivation, you can devote a whole room to this type of stuff. Lava lamps, Zenith CRTs and Tandy computers all make for great retro pieces. I like to look for old "ghetto blaster" boomboxes. Sony, Panasonic and Hitachi all made some really flashy units that look great on the shelf. The tape decks almost never work and you better check that battery compartment because chances are there's 6 or more D Energizers from '82 spewing battery acid.

Better have the old lady standing by the fuse box when I plug this bad boy in.


Ahhh, the kids section. I got a lot of my toys as a kid at thrift stores. Toys that are now deemed  "collectable" were strewn across the floor and in the bins. I distinctly remember seeing tons of He Man action figures, Batman vehicles and the like. Obviously today the pickings are slim when it comes to truly vintage toys. Toys are handled by kids who are notorious for being hard on them so finding anything pre 2000s is uncommon. But sometimes parents are cleaning out their kids room after they moved out, dropping boxes off at the local Goodwill. I've scored on some amazing finds in the last year alone. On 2 separate occasions I found multiple grab bags of M.A.S.K and G.I. Joe figures which lead me to believe someone's entire collection was donated. I know many of you can relate when a parent donated our stuff as a kid without our permission. Might as well capitalize on another poor saps misfortune!

Both of these shots are of hauls I got from two different trips to the same thrift store. I swear some bratty kid from the 80s moved out, and his room is getting cleaned out to be converted into a studio for his mom's fledgling pottery business. They were all in pretty decent shape too. The store split them up into bags of around 5 figures a piece so I bought them all up. I think I paid around 25$ each time, not bad!  This is probably the 6 or 7th large cache of figures I've come across and it is BEE YOOT TEE FULL.

Of course there's some items that will always be easy to find. One can almost always find old board games, sometimes sealed in the shrink-wrap! While these aren't as fun as some of the other junk they make for great "Retro Props" that you can decorate your shelves with. Stuffed animals are prevalent as well but I wouldn't recommend it as who knows who's kid was slobbering all over it! All in all though, if you keep your eyes opened your bound to find something cool.

Shop at your own risk. I'm not sure if that rubber snake is actually rubber...


Well there you have it! If you're looking for your next nostalgia fix, just head down to the nearest Goodwill, Salvation Army or thrift store in your area and keep your eyes peeled. Some establishments are catching on though and pricing their older items accordingly. It's impossible for them to screen everything coming in though, and that's your opportunity for the score! One of my most prized possessions is a Seiko H558 wrist watch. The very same model Arnold Schwarzenegger wore in Predator, Commando, Raw Deal, and many others. It's worth quite a bit and I found it in a pile of broken watches while browsing. Just goes to show the old adage is true; One man's junk is another man's treasure!

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Posted on May 15, 2021 at 02:12 AM

I have passion for the past as well

onipar Posted on Jul 08, 2015 at 04:20 PM

Whoa, that Secret of Mana with the original box is a sweet score! I've yet to find *any* boxed NES or SNES game, let alone a coveted one like that. Great article, cheers!

AnEarly90sMan Posted on Feb 18, 2015 at 12:44 AM

Ah...The Super Soaker 100. I'm still in love with it after all of these years.

vkimo Posted on Sep 08, 2014 at 05:52 PM

There's actually a Pound Puppy at the thrift store now haha it's been there a few days. I found one about 2 years ago still in the cardboard dog house, that was cool.

pikachulover Posted on Sep 08, 2014 at 07:54 AM

I remember those furniture stores. There were some in my area too in So. Cal.

When I got thrifting I like to pick up Sanrio items. I've gotten some good deals including a suitcase and plush. Sanrio items are hard to gauge. You need to have a good eye for them.

One time I bought a large Pound Puppy.

Vaporman87 Posted on Sep 07, 2014 at 10:24 PM

Even in no man's land here, we still had a few pieces that were "Chinese". Mostly deep, gloss black end tables with crazy gold dragon and other print all over it. The wood was SO cheap. They may as well have made it from cardboard.

vkimo Posted on Sep 07, 2014 at 10:21 PM

That's hilarious about the TV set! I remember seeing the first Plasma TVs that came out with my parents at a high end electronics store. 10,000 dollars! It looked amazing then I bet a 200 Wal-Mart TV looks better now.

It seems like the furniture market is dominated by a few large companies now. I remember back in California you could go downtown to San Francisco and get the cheap chinese furniture from various warehouse stores. I wish I had pictures of this stuff, the designs were outrageous. Zebra print couched, lamps with hydra like was great.

Vaporman87 Posted on Sep 07, 2014 at 09:53 PM


First of all, that furniture brings back a flood of nostalgia. Not just because we had all the same stuff filling up our house, but because I SOLD the stuff. Some of you may, or may not, know that prior to my business being strictly a propane business, we also had an entire furniture store (well, actually two) that lasted from the 50's until the 90's (when small furniture stores just started biting the dust). Seeing that furniture reminds me of my days standing around, waiting for somebody to walk in so I could put on my best "Goldberg" face and make a sale. My gosh... some of that stuff we had was just insane. Dining room suits were the worst. So much wood... thousands upon thousands of dollars for the good stuff. Giant, mammoth hutches and 15,000 leaf inserts to make your table big enough for the Duggars to eat at. Those were some interesting days.

Then there are the electronics, which we also sold. Tube tvs that easily outweighed me, lifting them and moving them from one spot to another. shakin and I have discussed our fascination with the console televisions, with their wood cabinets and simple controls. Our first "big screen" television was one of the first to be commercially available... and it sucked. It was hidden inside a large wood cabinet. Then when you would turn the power on, it would lift up out of the cabinet and power on. If you tried watching from even the slightest angle, it just went black. LOL. You had to be DEAD ON centered to see anything. My friend and I watched many a Friday Night Videos episode on that screen.

The clothes, of course I had them. My favorites being ones that I kept even until just recently (including a Spudz McKenzie shirt and an old Subway "Put a foot in your mouth" shirt. They had become so threadbare that my wife forced me to trash them. Also the armpit areas had become hard and crusty from all the years of deodorant coming in contact with them. LOL.

And I had the toys for sure. While most of us might have suffered the fate of the poor sap who lost his sweet He-Man collection to you, I myself am to blame for my own losses. I willingly sold my He-Man collection and other toys at Garage Sales. Naturally I hate my pre-teen self now for committing such a blatantly stupid act. But hey, I wanted money for something.

I have a feeling no Goodwill in my area is ever going to come close to offering the great stuff you've found here. More likely, they are going to be filled with beer t-shirts, crappy outdoor furniture, and hunting crap. Sadly, that's what you get for living in hickville. But at least I can live vicariously through vkimo. LOL

And by the way, nice pic there at the end. ;)

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