People From Around The World Share The Weirdest Things They Found At Second Hand Stores

People From Around The World Share The Weirdest Things They Found At Second Hand Stores

As the philosopher Macklemore once said: “One man's trash, that's another man's come up.” There’s something wonderful about a trip to the thrift shop. You never know if you will find a mint condition Babe Ruth baseball card, or just a VHS copy of Escape to Witch Mountain. Either way, it’s the experience that matters.

On the other hand, some things are too weird even for the thrift shop.

Recently, these second hand store employees took to the internet to share the weirdest things people have donated. Free to a good home!


40. Selling Grandpa

We get strange donations all the time, such as...

Ashes, I've got a bag here in my office that has some guy from Florida in it. I keep him around, he wards off ghosts and angry customers.

Printed money, one time someone dropped off a backpack full of obviously forged money on big sheets of paper. The secret service came out and got it and everything.

We get disgusting stuff too, some middle-aged lady donated a bag of clothes from her son's room. The shirt stank so badly I still dry heave thinking about it. 

We get lots of interesting old stuff, Victorian cat collar, an 1800s~ french tapestry, old Sears magazines, vintage records, 8 tracks etc.

We recently got a set of dishes that commemorated a state university, someone bought them for $900! Didn't even know such a thing existed before we got them.

Someone donated an old Mac from the mid 90s that still worked. We fired it up and it had all sorts of personal stuff on it, we wiped it and sold it. Remember to wipe your drives people!

A few weeks ago we got a reproduction Lord of the Rings sword. Pretty cool.

I love working here, it's always something new and interesting.

sword-790815-300x198.jpgImage by

39. What A Nice Gesture

One day, a Russian lady came in with about 6 gorgeous evening gowns. She kept saying to us that she'd had them since she was young, when she lived in Russia, that they were high-end/designer dresses (we couldn't read the tag).

From my own knowledge of sewing/dressmaking, I can tell you these things were exquisite. I was working with the books, but I managed to get a good look at them and the seams were breathtakingly neat. Hand-embellished with beads, crystals, hand-embroidered details on some, they'd clearly been taken well care of too as the colours weren't faded or discoloured, and she'd even brought them to the shop in garment bags.

She said she'd brought them in because she was well past wearing them (I think she was in her 60s), they certainly wouldn't fit her, and she wanted some young woman to get to 'experience the joy of wearing them'. These dresses were GORGEOUS, y'all.

Unfortunately I left before they were taken out of the back room into the shop so I never saw who bought them. They were probably bought as debutante dresses in the end.

hands-4051469-300x200.jpgImage by

38. Hidden Treasure

I priced the clothing before it went to the sales floor. It's pretty normal to find a small amount of cash in a pocket every so often, but one day I was pricing a blazer and I checked inside the inner pockets, as you do, and found two envelopes with Chinese characters on them with $1000 cash in each.

Inside the same blazer we found a rubber banded stack of like 25 credit cards/rewards cards and an expensive-looking watch. We tried to contact the guy but his phone was disconnected. I think he probably died and some family member just donated all his stuff without checking it. Anyway, I only got to keep $300 of it but hey, that's $300 richer than I was before.

We also once had a box of live kittens.

money-742052-300x225.jpgImage by

37. Did He Try To Sell You Insurance?

So many weird donations that I won't even get into because y'all won't believe me but the strangest time was when a young man donated a bag of clothes and then a small gecko hops out. We were honestly at a loss for what to do about the little guy until the donor swings back about 1 hour later looking kinda frantic asking if we had seen his lizard. We kindly showed him where it had taken up residence under the porch used for smoking and we never saw either of them again.

Another time a woman dropped off a wedding dress and an accordion with no explanation but she seemed rather upset.

What a weird job.

gecko-2299365-1-300x200.jpgImage by


36. Nothing To Sneeze At

My mom regularly goes to the thrift shop. She was getting a Kleenex box cover thingy. While she was inspecting this Kleenex box thingy, she discovered the previous owner had hidden about $1500 in it, all old vintage bills from the 1980's. Not even the employees had noticed it. Of course she bought it for like $5 and in turn took in a $1495 profit.

Probably my family's most amazing thrift story.

dolla-dolla-300x200.jpgPhoto by Niels Steeman on Unsplash

35. A Fixer-Upper

Some very old and very sweet lady had some standard donations in trash bags in the front of her car. She then proceeded to open the trunk and reveal a fully decked out custom maingear PC. Now I estimated the price of this bad boy to be about $3000 (at the time it was made) and its age to be about 4-5 years old judging by the parts. I kept asking her if it was something she wanted to donate and I told her my price estimate and she insisted we keep it. I took it to the stores manager and explained that I was a computer nerd and wanted to buy it. After proving to her that in its current state it wouldn’t work she let me buy it for $30, and with the cost of an SSD, a CPU fan and heatsink, and windows I got it up and running for a total of around $200.

board-453758-300x204.jpgImage by

34. What A Way To Go Out

I was a receiving and loading lead at a thrift store for a few years. We had this guy that cleaned out storage units for a living and then he’d dump whatever he couldn’t flip with us for a tax slip.

He pulls up and we’re going through it all. Pretty nice stuff, looked like it was an estate sale. We get it all unloaded and then we start snooping through to see what needs to get brought to where and we find this green glass vase filled with sand.

I started pouring the sand out into the trash so we could figure if the vase was worth using

“That’s not sand.”

Somehow we ended up with an unmarked, full urn.

box-1995679-300x200.jpgImage by

33. Destiny

I visit my local thrift store at least twice a week and I have a great story to share.

About 8 months ago I was strolling down the aisles of the local thrift store when I saw a children’s jewelry box/music box that looked like an exact replica of one that I had as a kid. It had ballerinas on it and played the same song that mine did. I opened it up and on the bottom corner of the soft material inside the box, I saw a tiny signature. It said my name. The way the letters were written left no doubt in my mind that this was the same music box from when I was a kid. I bought it for a dollar and brought it home. It now sits on my bookshelf. It was honestly like a moment out of a movie.

analogue-2842521-300x214.jpgImage by

32. Always Look In The Drawers

My in-laws just purchased a rental property near our house (they live several states away). They asked my husband and me to furnish their new house before they came down to visit, so I went to a local thrift shop and bought a bunch of dressers, nightstands, etc. for almost nothing.

This past Friday, we are hanging out at the rental property with my in-laws, and they are checking out the furniture. My mother-in-law comes out of one of the bedrooms and says, "Did you guys look in any of these drawers?" Turns out there was $650 in cash in the corner of one of the dresser drawers!

Naturally, we freak out and start looking through the other drawers. One of the other dressers has a drawer that is COMPLETELY full of what looks like ratty tablecloths. When we pull them out, we realize that the drawer is full of handmade lace tablecloths- what looks like some old lady's wedding presents from long ago. My sister-in-law goes online, looks up the brand of the tablecloths, and finds out that the maker of the tablecloths is this high-end Portuguese lace-maker and that comparable pieces are worth anywhere between €2,000 and €8,000.

antique-honiton-lace-1182740-300x224.jpgImage by

31. I Thought Beethoven Was A Dog

I found a first edition of a book of Beethoven's letters by Dr. Nohl from the 1800s.

Nohl was a scholar on Beethoven, Mozart, music and history. His books went through a lot of prints and during his era and he was a very celebrated author. Bear in mind that this does not mean I own the physical copies of Beethoven's letters, rather this is just a collection of them in a book.

Come to think of it, I also once found a Mozart Lladro figurine for $25, I don't think that the owner of that particular store knew how much it was worth in mint condition with the box and paperwork... As a huge fan of Mozart, I just had to get it! I also found a Lladro owl for $5, it was a complete steal.

street-2653840-300x212.jpgImage by


30. Pumped-Up Kicks

Got a pair of Tony Lama cowboy boots for $12.00. Worth $250 new. I bought a pair of Red Wing boots for $3 dollars. Took them to the Red Wing store, they oiled them up for free and replaced the laces (Red Wing will do this for any Red Wing boot. If you find a beat up pair for cheap, snap them up.) Not worth $250, but new Red Wings can be $100+. I also see nice Nike sneakers at my thrift shop selling for under ten bucks. One time there was a like new pair of Clarks Desert Boots for 6 bucks. Didn't buy them though, they weren't my size. Check out shoes when you go to the thrift shop. Lots of nice shoes get donated that are actually worth a lot. Cowboy boots especially.

cowboy-1129345-300x239.jpgImage by

29. I Guess He's Not A Vampire Anymore?

People donate really weird things. Here's a small selection:

Someone donated a complete 10-ton concrete fountain, complete with 2m tall statues. We also got a casket, originally belonging to a guy who liked roleplaying as a vampire. Sold it to a woman who had to bury her 2 dogs.

Uncleaned plates, with food scraps attached. (Made sure the guy felt terrible about even considering to donate). An ostrich (probably from someone who chew a bit too much at his/her taxidermy hobby). A garden leprechaun collection. We had about 60 of those creepy little statues around.

One of the most valuable things we gotten in was a Cartier brooch set. Turned out it was worth around €5000

fount-200x300.jpgPhoto by Alexandria Courtney on Unsplash

28. I'll Volunteer For That

My boyfriend volunteered at a local thrift shop for a little while. One day he was going through donation boxes and found a peculiar ceramic mission with liquid in it. After a little research it turned out to be 30-year-old Christian Brothers brandy. Only 100 bottles were made in celebration of their anniversary. Since the thrift store can't sell that, he was able to snag it. The brandy was soooo gooood.

drink-3108436-300x200.jpgImage by

27. The Lottery

This guy bought a rug from a thrift store. He unrolled it in the store just enough to see the pattern and then brought it home. He propped it up in the corner and then kind of forgot about it. Then one day a few months later, he got in the mood for home improvement. He cleaned his house, rearranged his house then went out to his garage and plopped the rug down. He grabbed the corners and pulled, like he was throwing a sheet over a bed. When he did, $10,000 fluttered through the air.

rug-1088557-300x201.jpgImage by

26. That's Super Weird

When I was about sixteen I worked at Goodwill for about 6 months. There was this old homeless man who used to try and sneak inside to sleep and stuff like that. Everyday he'd get kicked out pretty quick by one of my female coworkers. After about a month of working there with her, the homeless man came up to the counter she was working at, gave her a target bag filled with rocks, and left. We open the bag and find a doll underneath about a layer of rocks. It was so creepy. The doll looked exactly like her. We flipped it over and the back had her FULL NAME sewn into it. She quit a couple days later because she was worried about that homeless man coming back to the store.

doll-1640841-300x200.jpgImage by

25. A Little Dusty

One day I was sorting donations and someone had donated a very nice, ornate wooden box with pretty inlay. I turned over the box to look for a maker's mark so I could price it appropriately and POOF. Ashes fell all over me. Lots of ashes. Yes, THOSE kinds of ashes. I'd like to think it was just the forgotten remains of a once beloved pet, but it was way too large of a quantity of ashes to just be a dog. Someone had most likely, and hopefully unknowingly, donated grandma's cremated remains, which were now literally coating me like some sort of satanic deep-frying batter. Needless to say I requested to go home early. I proceeded to take many, many showers and scrubbed my body VERY HARD. It was, to say the least, very traumatic.

hand-1599898-300x192.jpgImage by


24. He Only Wears Them Once, I hope

In college I was one of the people that directly sorted donations.

I've seen it all. On more than one occasion we found large amounts of money stashed away in hollowed out books, usually $1000+ in new bills.

The one story that sticks out the most was this middle aged man who consistently came on Saturday evenings to donate used underwear. Bags and bags of men's used underwear, for almost 3 months straight, then suddenly he just stopped.

boxer-shorts-335120-300x225.jpgImage by

23. An Honest Woman

My mom use to work for Goodwill, she’s found some rather neat items. One time she found $5,000 in someone’s old jeans. She was kind enough to return the to its rightful owner by looking into who donated the items. And she found a hand grenade in an old jacket.

money-3115984-300x200.jpgImage by

22. I'm Quitting My Job And Buying Some Wood

One of my fellow employees was telling me about how someone donated a piece of wood (or I should say LEFT a piece of wood). As a joke she put a price tag on it for $10,000 and said it was a piece from Noah's Ark. Strangely enough, someone seriously believed it and wanted to buy it. Needless to say management wasn't happy and quickly removed it and threw it away.

jesus-3548007-300x167.jpgImage by


I’ve been working at a thrift shop for two years. As long as we don't abuse this privilege my boss is OK with the employees calling dibs on certain items as soon as they come into the store. Excluding all the high end clothes I bought, these are the best items I've picked up: A Burger King Golden Pikachu card, a framed picture of Walker Texas Ranger signed by Chuck Norris, Nintendo 64 with a bunch of games, Xbox 360 controller, Xbox 360 wireless adapter, a guitar, and a laptop.

man-161135-184x300.pngImage by

20. Shame It Wasn't A Very Good Game, Though

It was early 2012, around tax season, and I, 14, was browsing with my mother because people donate a lot around then. We passed some buggies of recent donations, and what my mother saw in one of them was a brand new, never played copy The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword for the Nintendo Wii; it was only $6:99 and included a CD of the orchestral version of the Zelda Soundtrack that they made to celebrate Zelda's 25 anniversary.

The game had only come out back in November 2011, so it was still $50 bucks in stores.

nintendo-300x200.jpgPhoto by Jason Leung on Unsplash

19. Serendipity

My friend was at a thrift shop and bought a 12-piece set of Mikasa china for $50. She brings it home and starts taking the plates out of the cloth holders. In between the plates she finds an envelope containing $1000. She then continues to take out the rest of the set and finds another $1050, totaling $2050! The best part of the story is her deposit for her wedding was due the next day. She was short on money at the time, so she was able to pay for her reception without any issues!

heart-529607-1-300x200.jpgImage by


18. Hearing Is Believing

I have found a pair of Sennheiser 580HD headphones in mint condition that were perfectly functional, for $5.00USD. Their Ebay floating price? Around $220-280 USD. I walked out of the store looking at the store staff to see if anyone of them were insane. They were fine. Obviously just technologically illiterate.

sennheiser-wireless-headphones-3688026-300x300.jpgImage by

17. A Winner is You!

In 2007, I worked at a thrift store as the guy who actually accepted the donations at the back door. My favorite was when someone donated a PS2 Slim and a Gamecube. And whoever did the pricing that day way underpriced. I got the Playstation for $25 and my roommate grabbed the gamecube for $20. They were both over $100 used at gamestop. Someone also donated a VirtualBoy once. We set it up in the back and took turns playing it that weekend.

Also one time bought a copy of the animated film Chicken Little in Russian.

video-games-1557358-300x200.jpgImage by

16. Watch Yourself

I was so excited to find two Rolex watches and thought I made a steal of a deal at $240. Both are fake. Can’t sell them because my luck would be to get incarcerated for counterfeit Rolex sales. Can’t return them because of the no return policy. Very sad day.

rolex-2171960-300x199.jpgImage by

15. Go Figure

A woman brought a box full of mint GI Joes, Transformers, and Superhero action figures for $20 bucks. The total worth of the items in the box was over $3,000. I felt bad because I'll bet anything they belong to a kid who grew up. One of these days he is going to ask about them and then his head will explode.

superheroes-1560256-300x199.jpgImage by

14. Presence Of Mind

I was sorting out some donated items and came across an unusual set of tools. Through some research, we discovered that it was a full transorbital lobotomy tool set. It got donated to a local university for display. Apparently, a vintage set in good condition can sell for around $1,000.

brain-2062057-300x228.jpgImage by

13. What A Waste!

Nothing too interesting in my time there, but I saw a 70s Bang and Olufsen stereo system go into the dumpster because they "didn't have time" to sort it all. I was this close to going back for it, but they padlock their dumpsters and have a jillion cameras out back. Some people are AWFULLY protective of their garbage

stereo-883186-300x170.jpgImage by

12. A Part Of Our History

An older lady nonchalantly set a cardboard box of donations on our donation table. I can’t tell you what was in the first few layers, but at the bottom was a photo album and a printed “book”. In the photo album were all original photos from Japan. The "printed book” was from Japan during WWII, and was full of photos of Japanese in military regalia. On both the inside covers were a stamped message from the US government. Upon research, the stamped US message basically labeled the books “spoils of war”. We have yet to get the book/writings translated. Our town also had a Japanese internment camp during WWII. Crazy cool, crazy sad, crazy history. Destined for the museum once we satisfy curiosity.

fluzeugtraeger-62822-300x224.jpgImage by

11. Who Gives That Away?!

One time a guy came to the donation center and asked me, "Do you guys take magazines?" I told him, "Generally no, unless they're old enough to potentially be collectable." He said "Why don't you take a look at them and let me know what you think?" So I open up the first box, and right on top is a Time Magazine with a picture of the Moon landing, dated July of 1969. So of course I tell the guy "Yeah ok, we can take these." He had two boxes of them, and most of them were pretty big stories, though I can't remember any others he had off the top of my head

space-station-60615-300x300.jpgImage by

10. That's Why They Call Him The Boss

We got a very expensive gold necklace, like, $1,500. Our price printer only went up to $999, so that small necklace in a bag had TWO price tags on it. My manager put up a sign on the front door saying it existed if someone wanted to buy it. I was in shock as to why someone would just DONATE an expensive jewelry necklace. It was insane.

Someone came in wanting to buy it and the manager had to sell it to him cause a lowly cashier might mess it up.

Except my manager only scanned one of the price tags. She got fired by a higher up for missing out on $500.

necklace-300x200.jpgPhoto by Tom Quandt on Unsplash

9. It's a conspiracy!

Used to work at a place in Canberra called "The Green Shed". Place was pretty eye-opening. It's attached to the council transfer station (where people dump things for landfill). When you drive in, to dump you turn left, to recycle your appliance, furniture or whatever you turn right to the green shed and drop it off for free. The stuff is then resold very cheap to the public. It looks and feels very charitable and good for the environment.

Turns out the place is privately owned. And, with Canberra turning over something like 60% of its population every year due to all the politicians, military and government personnel on annual contracts, and with all of these individuals highly paid, you get a surplus of near new fully decked out apartments because the guy has to move back to Melbourne in two weeks and he just wants to donate all his stuff to a charity instead of selling it. New 60 inch TVs in the box. All sorts of things. And everyone in Canberra believes this place is a charity.

They're turning over about $2m a year and have almost no running costs. It gets crazier.

They have a pickup service. I went to pick up a fridge from a girl who was moving interstate the next day. She gladly paid us $100 for the privilege of donating her fully operational fridge that we immediately test and tagged and sold for $80 about 2hrs later. Many times I would pickup entire households worth of furniture and appliances and still somehow charged the customer $800 or so for the job, and then resold the donated items for another $800 all in one day.

People in Canberra praise this place because they publicly donated $10k to a charity. It's regarded as an amazing system for recycling. It's not like they accept things that are broken. Half the stuff they accept gets thrown away anyway.

Some people donated small yachts. I saw a golf cart. Old cars and more are regularly donated and then sold for real, tangible money. That a private company earns.

I really need to add some emphasis here, there are regularly LINEUPS of cars wanting to drop stuff off at the green shed. I believe there are many, many people dropping off goods there they could otherwise sell, but they feel like the green shed's service exists and is legitimised by the council or state government (who award them the contract) as a charitable environmental push, but it absolutely isn't.

suit-300x200.jpgPhoto by Hunters Race on Unsplash

8. That's what we call "Foreshadowing"

My first day of working at a thrift store, I opened a box and saw some yarn. It looked suspicious, so I poked it and a bunch of pinkies (baby mice) crawled out.

That was a pretty good indicator of what the next year of my employment was going to be like. The only thing I really learned was that people take "donation" to mean "free trash dump."


7. Guess She Wasn’t A Vin Diesel Fan

My friend and I were headed home from a day of skiing and he forgot to buy his girlfriend a birthday gift. We scrambled to the nearest Goodwill we could find and combed the shelves for something to get her. We were quite dejected and couldn't figure out what would suffice when out of the corner of my eye I spotted a signed picture of Vin Diesel in an elegant frame, staring up at me through the glass of the display case. The price you ask? A paltry $11 scored him the ultimate gift for his beloved. They broke up a week later.


6. Creepy Child Collector

Someone once brought in some creepy statues of children. They looked alright until you saw their eyes. Oh god! Their eyes! They were indentations made by the artist's fingers so they looked gouged out.

Apparently they were made by Lee Bortin. They came with certificates, as though someone would actually want those things.

creepykid-300x200.jpgPhoto by Aimee Vogelsang on Unsplash

5. Where Can I Get One Of These?

We had this 8-inch-tall suit of metal armour come through, mounted on a piece of solid marble.

This thing was handmade and the quality, if a little beat up, was comparable to that of fine artisan blacksmithing. It was immaculate. Even better was the fact that if you lifted the beaver, voila; a flame appeared. The entire setup was a lighter!

After the price of AU$80 was tentatively put on it, we took it out to the front counter where the was a display cabinet for collectibles.

It never made it there. A customer at the counter thought it was neat and paid the full price on the spot.

armour-300x200.jpgPhoto by Henry Hustava on Unsplash

4. A Famous Man's Coat

There is a thrift “outlet” store in the blue-collar town of Pasadena, Texas near Houston. The company had seven area thrift stores, and each store would dump its slow movers at the outlet. Everything was sold at the same price, whether it was a mink coat or a pair of socks.

One day they were selling every item for 35 cents.

I was browsing a rack of sports coats, and my hand touched a particularly elegant piece of fabric. I checked the label, and it said: “Henry Poole & Company, Bespoke tailors, London.”

I knew it was special so I looked in the inner pocket, and found the name of the person it was made for, and the date, 1969. I took it home, and started Googling.

Henry Poole, it turns out, is a custom tailor in business since the 1700s and makes suits for the very wealthy. We are talking $5,000 - $14,000 range.

Next, I checked the owner’s name: Dr. J. Kenneth Galbraith. Something rang a bell.

Back to Google and I found Economist John Kenneth Galbraith, who started out working on FDR's New Deal and became an advisor to JFK and a close friend of the president and Jackie Kennedy.

No proof, right? My coat owner may have been a dentist from Dallas for all I knew. Then I looked at the sizing of the coat. It would have fit Abe Lincoln!

This guy was nearly 7-feet tall and skinny as a rail. Back to Wikipedia, and discovered that the economist who had written more than 100 books was 6 9′ and a bean pole. That was good enough for me. The next week, I went back to the thrift, found the identical coat in the same fabric. It was dated 1967, but looked brand new.

I figure this guy must have gone to London every couple of years and had identical suits made. He may have had a closet full of them, and the older one got pushed to the back of the closet and never worn.

The question I could never answer was this: How did the bespoke wardrobe of a famous economist who lived in New England until he died end up in a thrift shop in Pasadena, Texas?

I sold them for a couple of hundred bucks. Were the buyers aficionados of Henry Poole’s bespoke tailoring, or economics groupies?

We’ll never know.

fashion-601553-300x217.jpgImage by

3. Okay, That's A Lot

I worked at a new and used book store in Memphis. Sometimes people would just donate loads of books. A Bible came in one day which looked like it was a few hundred years old. An expert looked at it and turned out it was bound in human skin. Bookstore donated it to the library.

background-2956789-300x184.jpgImage by

2. The More You Know!

My grandpa used to volunteer at the thrift store in his senior community, and when someone would die, their family would donate some of their things. So he was telling me about this “ugly vase” and they priced it really low and then another volunteer recognized the style and realized it was a Picasso!

picasso-1691133-300x225.jpgImage by

1. Every Item Tells A Story

My area of expertise is instruments and occasionally people donate INCREDIBLE antique instruments. There are many dealers who watch these so it's not like you can go find one on the shelf for $50.

But recently, for example, someone donated an amazing German cello from a respected maker dating from around the 1750's. Even without being able to take a good look at it, at auction it could have gotten anywhere from $5k-$30k.

But beyond the monetary value, imagine the history of an instrument that old. Outliving so many of its players. Being played in courts and concert halls before electricity could light them. Being made completely by hand. Even the source trees were cut down by hand and horses pulled them to a mill. Performance after performance for over 2 1/2 centuries all to end up being given to the goodwill. It sort of short circuits my mind a little bit to think about how we lived then and how we live now...and then sometimes how those times intersect at the goodwill. Kind of sad, kind of beautiful.

cello-300x199.jpgPhoto by Ira Selendripity on Unsplash