If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

Kirby vacuum
Photo by Nenadmil / Shutterstock.com

Shopping thrift stores, flea markets and estate sales can be overwhelming. With the sheer volume of stuff, how do you know where to start? How do you spot gems amid all the … well, junk?

As a professional reseller who’s been combing through thrift stores for the better part of 30 years, I can help. If you’re ready to cut your shopping time in half, score bigger bargains or walk away with brag-worthy finds you can flip for cash, read on.

From hard-to-find household items to resale money-makers, everything featured in this series qualifies as a BOLO (“be on the look out” for) item. When you find it, buy it!

Featured Find: Kirby G Series vacuums

You can find Kirby vacuums at estate sales and in thrift shops across the country.

These humble workhorses were considered state-of-the-art until Dyson exploded onto the U.S. market in the 1990s. As bagless vacuums became more popular, older models — including Kirby’s G Series — started hitting the secondhand market.

The G Series was manufactured in the 1990s and 2000s. And in true Kirby fashion, these machines were built with more metal than most new cars, as I always joke. They are heavy and relatively powerful, and they last forever.

True story: Until 10 years ago, my mom was still using the Kirby she bought from a door-to-door salesman in 1965. When she finally decided to part with it, I didn’t know if I should advertise it on Craigslist or donate it to a museum. Try getting 50-plus years out of any product made today, especially one with a motor.

Kirby’s G Series included six models:

  • G3
  • G4
  • G5
  • Gsix
  • Ultimate G (also referred to as the G7)
  • Ultimate G Diamond Edition

Describing Kirby as “thorough” would be a gross understatement. G Series models came with a wondrous assortment of attachments all organized in a plastic caddy nearly as large as the vacuum itself. The company provided extenders, nozzles, and brushes to clean every nook and cranny imaginable.

Why buy it?

I’ve always thought of Kirby as the vintage Volvo of vacuum cleaners — not that sexy, but it’ll get the job done with minimal fuss year after year.

At typical thrift store prices of $15 to $35, any Kirby G Series vacuum in good working order is a fantastic find. Sure, you may have to replace the belt once or twice, but those cost only about $1 each. Besides, wouldn’t it be refreshing to own a machine that will actually last long enough for something to wear out?

Although Kirby was never as design-forward as Dyson, its G Series offered some significant improvements over earlier models, including HEPA filtration. The Ultimate G Diamond Edition even featured noise reduction settings.

Resellers will be happy to learn that G Series vacuums are always in demand. An Ultimate G Diamond Edition with all the attachments recently sold for $179.99 on eBay (plus $99.99 shipping). And even with some mechanical issues, this G4 model sold for $248.64.

Don’t feel like lugging one of these behemoths to the post office? I totally get it. Flip it on Facebook Marketplace or sell it piece by piece. A used G3 outer cloth bag brought for $39.99 on eBay, and this lot of Ultimate G attachments is selling for $149.95 on Etsy.

What to look for

Kirby G Series vacuums have a distinctive flared “fork” — an extended handle assembly that supports the body of the machine. You can find the model name on the bag and printed along the fork.

Although all G Series vacuums are strong sellers, the resale market is particularly hot for the Ultimate G and Ultimate G Diamond Edition models. A machine that comes with a carpet shampoo system (a nonstandard accessory) is particularly desirable.

As with all household machines, perform a quick quality check before you buy. Make sure that:

  • The cord isn’t damaged
  • Attachments are included
  • When the vacuum is running, the cylindrical brush under the nozzle head rotates freely

Pro tip: If you notice a slight burning odor when testing a machine, don’t run the other way. This is a common indicator that the vacuum’s belt is stuck or broken. Replacement belts are easy to find online and simple to install yourself.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
6 Investing Tools That Help You Diversify
6 Investing Tools That Help You Diversify

Here’s how you can lend to startup businesses, fund social causes or get in on investments once available only to the very rich.

12 Ways Retirees Can Earn Passive Income
12 Ways Retirees Can Earn Passive Income

These simple ways of earning income without a lot of active, ongoing effort can stretch your retirement dollars.

11 Signs That You Chose the Wrong Place to Retire
11 Signs That You Chose the Wrong Place to Retire

Health and happiness in retirement rely on some key factors.

How to Prepare Your Finances for Retirement in 7 Steps
How to Prepare Your Finances for Retirement in 7 Steps

Here is how to get your finances in shape for your golden years, one step at a time.

10 Tools You Need for Financial Stability
10 Tools You Need for Financial Stability

Have these tools and accounts in place so you can weather whatever comes your way.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

How to Buy Gas At Costco Without a Membership
How to Buy Gas At Costco Without a Membership

The warehouse club often has some of the cheapest gas in town. Here’s how you can get it as a nonmember.

10 Things to Stop Buying If You Want a Clutter-Free Home
10 Things to Stop Buying If You Want a Clutter-Free Home

If you like to keep things simple, avoid these purchases.

If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

Vacuums from this brand can last a half-century, if not longer — and they’re hot on the resale market.

A Simple Way to Silence Robocalls Today
A Simple Way to Silence Robocalls Today

A few steps can keep your phone from ringing when a spammer calls.

This Company Makes the Best Tires in America
This Company Makes the Best Tires in America

Driver satisfaction with tires is at an all-time high, but one brand stands out.

This Health Issue Can Hint at Dementia Years in Advance
This Health Issue Can Hint at Dementia Years in Advance

One type of pain is especially associated with cognitive decline.

Can I Switch to Spousal Social Security Benefits When My Ex Dies?
Can I Switch to Spousal Social Security Benefits When My Ex Dies?

Knowing when to claim can help you maximize benefits.

36 Things That Will Be Obsolete Soon
36 Things That Will Be Obsolete Soon

The writing is on the wall for dozens of things we have grown up with.

Medicare Will Not Cover These 6 Medical Costs
Medicare Will Not Cover These 6 Medical Costs

Don’t let these health care expenses catch you off guard in retirement.

8 Things You Should Always Buy on Amazon
8 Things You Should Always Buy on Amazon

The giant retailer shines when it comes to these things, from basics to hard-to-find specialty goods.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

8 Federal Income Tax Breaks for Homeowners
8 Federal Income Tax Breaks for Homeowners

Some of these deductions and credits are available to a wide swath of homeowners.

5 Ways to Fill Your Pantry With Free Food
5 Ways to Fill Your Pantry With Free Food

Anyone can take advantage of these resources.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

10 Types of Retirement Income That Are Not Taxable
10 Types of Retirement Income That Are Not Taxable

There are lots of things Uncle Sam can’t touch — so long as you play by the rules.

6 Reasons You Should Stop Hiding Cash at Home
6 Reasons You Should Stop Hiding Cash at Home

Stashing money around the house is anything but harmless.

5 States With the Worst Health Care for Retirees
5 States With the Worst Health Care for Retirees

All of these states are located in the same region of the nation.

5 Products You Should Never Buy Generic
5 Products You Should Never Buy Generic

Sometimes the brand-name version is clearly superior.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.