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 junk?
As a professional reseller who has 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 my “Thrift Shop Like a Pro” series qualifies as a BOLO (“be on the lookout” for) item. When you find it, buy it!
Featured Find: Lane Acclaim furniture
Last month, I accompanied a good friend to Ikea. Though in the market for all sorts of furniture, he politely declined my offer to stop at a few thrift shops and consignment stores along the way.
Several hundred dollars (and 10 Allen wrenches) later, he had a condo full of decent-looking Scandinavian-inspired furniture. Sure, most of it was particle board covered in paper, but hey, different strokes.
If he had waited, he could have found something cheaper, more stylish and much better made — like vintage Acclaim collection furniture by Lane.
Designed by Andre Bus and introduced in 1958, Acclaim paired traditional furniture elements like inlaid dovetail borders with mid-century features like sleek lines and minimal ornamentation. This hybrid approach helped hesitant Americans embrace mid-century style, and it paved the way for more revolutionary furniture to come.
Today, coffee tables and end tables are most common in the secondhand market. But the full Acclaim line also included:
- Desks and chairs
- Bedroom sets
- Dining room set
- Snack cart
Why buy it?
The better question is, “Why not buy it?” Acclaim has it all — cool Danish-modern style paired with solid wood construction and just enough detail to make each piece interesting. By scouting estate sales, consignment stores and thrift shops, buyers can build an heirloom-quality collection gradually.
Though some stores have caught on to Acclaim’s popularity and value, it’s still possible to find an unrestored end table or coffee table for $20 to $30.
Look for the ugly ducklings — pieces with coffee rings, sun damage or scratches. Restoring a Lane Acclaim table is simpler than you might think, and it makes a perfect weekend project.
Acclaim’s mix of quality and style has produced an acclaim-worthy resale market.
This set of three living room tables in original condition sold for $1,199 on eBay. And on Etsy, this restored Acclaim desk is listed for $1,650. Heck, even this spray-painted end table sold for $150 on Etsy. (Furniture purists, let’s tell ourselves the next owner will restore it properly.)
What to look for
The easiest way to spot an Acclaim is to look for the oversized walnut and oak dovetail joints. Though they’re nonfunctional, running no deeper than the veneer, the dovetails make every piece instantly recognizable.
Lane furniture is well-marked, too. On desks, dressers and chests of drawers, you can find the logo on the interior left-hand side of a top drawer. Tables and chairs are marked on the underside.
The Lane logo features a horizontal wooden spindle encasing the words “Lane” and “Altavista, Va.” In some versions of the logo, there’s also a stylized image of a long lane bordered by trees.
Though all pieces are popular, Lane’s triangular “guitar pick” accent table is especially prized by collectors. Other hot sellers include:
- Rolling snack or bar cart
- 70-inch bench or cocktail table
- L-shaped “Boomerang” coffee table
- Three-drawer chest (sometimes referred to as a record cabinet)
Pro tip: Years of wax buildup can sometimes obscure Acclaim’s signature dovetails. If you have a hunch about a piece, inspect it closely.
For more tips like these, check out my article “10 Secrets to Finding Quality Secondhand Furniture.”