Q: Do you know of any guides to thrift shopping? How do you know *what* to buy:
A: First, I should say that if you don't know what an item is, you probably don't need it. However, it's always nice to choose the best quality available when you make a purchase. As far as I know, there's no one definitive book to recommend. Here are a few links and resources I have written or enjoyed:
Learning how to spot designer labels is key. Study catalogs--I bought a Zojirushi bread machine because I recognized the name from the Urban Homemaker catalog.
For used clothing in general, I like a memoir called Alligators, Old Mink and New Money. Another comprehensive book is Secondhand Chic by Christa Weil.
Here's an article I wrote that lists a few hallmarks of quality.
My library had an older Ebay video series by Lynn Dralle, the Queen of Auctions. Though I think the Ebay profit machine has slowed since the series was written, her general tips about finding things are good. In fact, I was shocked at the number of new Ebay guides that popped up in our card catalog. Browse through a few, even if you're not reselling items, because you'll develop an eye to what holds value. If you are unsure of a thrift shop item, go home and look it up on Ebay before buying.