15 Thrift Shopping Terms You Need to Know

Advertising Disclosure: When you buy something by clicking links on our site, we may earn a small commission, but it never affects the products or services we recommend.

yard sale
Armin Staudt / Shutterstock.com

Every hobby and profession develops a unique lingo, and it’s no different in the world of secondhand shopping.

As a professional thrift shopper and reseller for more than 30 years, I’ve noticed my “colleagues” and I have a language all our own — peppered with weird terms, abbreviations and acronyms.

And since Babbel offers no course to become fluent in thrift-shop-speak (what’s the hold-up, people?), allow me to translate. Following are a bunch of terms that will help you navigate the wonderful world of secondhand shopping and reselling.

1. In the wild

A man looks at furniture in a thrift store
Iakov Filimonov / Shutterstock.com

Gear up. “In the wild” refers to where a valuable secondhand item is found (and indirectly, the skill of the buyer). It takes a special knack to spot a treasure in the wilds of a thrift store or flea market as opposed to more civilized environments like high-end antique shops.

2. Honey hole

Estate sale or garage sale or yard sale
Fhaizal Mazlan / Shutterstock.com

Spend enough time in the wild, and you’ll eventually stumble upon a “honey hole” — a spot where good finds are plentiful. A phrase popularized by the TV show “American Pickers,” any thrift store, estate sale, yard sale or junkyard can be a honey hole.

3. Toasty

Yard sale
Richard Thornton / Shutterstock.com

A secondhand item that’s “toasty” or “toasted” shows signs of heavy use or wear. To carry the metaphor one step further, toasty is slightly better than “fried” (an item so damaged that it’s lost all value).

4. Repop

Estate sale or garage sale or yard sale
Fhaizal Mazlan / Shutterstock.com

The linguistically strange word “repop” refers to an item that’s been reproduced to mimic an original. For example, “That Coca-Cola sign isn’t an antique, it’s just a modern repop.”

5. Flea bite

pathdoc / Shutterstock.com

When is a chip not a chip? When it’s a “flea bite” or “gnat bite.” On porcelain, pottery and glass, both terms refer to the tiniest fleck of damage — not quite a chip, but still noticeable.


mimagephotography / Shutterstock.com

Pronounced wai-SEE-bee, the acronym WYSIBI stands for “when you see it, buy it.” Thrift shoppers use the term to describe any item that’s rare, unusual or highly sought-after. Another way to say, “don’t pass this up,” WYSIBI is a verb, noun and mantra all rolled into one.


Senior man playing chess
Carlos_Pascual / Shutterstock.com

Borrowed from law enforcement, “BOLO” is shorthand for “be on the lookout.” But instead of hardened criminals, thrift shoppers are looking for hard-to-find treasures.

All products covered in my “Thrift Shop Like a Pro” series qualify as BOLOs, either because of their amazing quality or impressive resale value.

8. Start-the-car moment

Happy male car driver
Prostock-studio / Shutterstock.com

Found an amazing item for a truly unbelievable price? Congratulations, you’re having a “start-the-car moment.” This adrenaline-fueled experience makes you want to check out quickly and get to the car before someone realizes their mistake.

9. Aunt Sally’s and Vinny’s

Salvation Army sign
Margarita Young / Shutterstock.com

These terms of endearment are shorthand for two beloved thrift store chains — The Salvation Army and St. Vincent de Paul, respectively. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve overheard bargain-hunters say something like, “Oh, you like this jacket? I found it at my favorite boutique — Vinny’s!”

Reselling lingo

Woman looking at box of old things to donate or sell
aslysun / Shutterstock.com

Not all thrift shoppers resell what they find, but those who do speak in a distinct dialect. Most terms were coined to help sellers communicate more clearly with online buyers.

But other words and phrases are simply verbal shorthand in what’s become a fast-paced, highly competitive field.

1. Picking

Kellis / Shutterstock.com

In the resale world, “picking” is similar to salvaging — pulling items of value from environments where they might otherwise be destined for a landfill. Successful picking requires a sharp eye and keen understanding of trends, market demand and value.

Pickers make money by “flipping” — selling their finds at a profit (often, several hundred times above the original “picked” price).

2. Meat on the bone

Confused senior shrugging
Kues / Shutterstock.com

Another phrase popularized by “American Pickers,” this term refers to an item’s profit potential. If there’s no “meat on the bone,” there’s no room between the purchase price and the resale value to make a profit.

3. Deadstock

DVDs for sale
TonelsonProductions / Shutterstock.com

When retail products set on the shelf and don’t sell, they eventually become “deadstock.” Also called “New Old Stock” (NOS), these items are vintage, but pristine and still in their original packaging.

When businesses close, their deadstock items are often donated to thrift stores or sold in bulk at flea markets.

4. EUC

Woman with antiques
Elena Elisseeva / Shutterstock.com

Vintage finds in top-notch shape are considered to be in “EUC” (excellent used condition). The term refers to any item that shows no signs of use, wear, or damage.

5. Spell-out

The North Face jacket
Everything You Need / Shutterstock.com

Remember those GAP sweatshirts with the super-sized G-A-P logo on the front? Those are a perfect example of “spell-outs.” The term describes any piece of apparel or luggage with a prominent brand, team or franchise name, well … spelled out.


collectible figurine
Ugis Riba / Shutterstock.com

This acronym stands for “one of a kind.” Resellers typically reserve “OOAK” to describe handmade goods, artwork and items that have been customized in some way.

Get smarter with your money!

Want the best money-news and tips to help you make more and spend less? Then sign up for the free Money Talks Newsletter to receive daily updates of personal finance news and advice, delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for our free newsletter today.