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 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 Look-Out for) item. When you find it, buy it!

Featured find: Martz lamps

A lamp is a lamp, right? Not always. Some lamps are special. For the past 20 years, Martz table lamps have been on my bucket list of “dream finds.”

Recently, my hunt came to a happy — no, ecstatic — conclusion when I found an unlabeled Martz lamp in the wild for $20.

In 1949, Jane Marshall met Gordon Martz at the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University in Alfred, New York. Both were students at the college, and both had a keen sense of design and creative exploration.

In 1950, the two married and decided to combine their creative talents by joining Jane’s family business in Veedersburg, Indiana. Her grandmother, Jessie Talbott Marshall, had founded Marshall Studios in 1922.

When Jane and Gordon came on board, the company was producing hand-turned wooden lamp bases and hand-painted lampshades. The young couple expanded the product line to include stoneware lamp bases, dinnerware, sculptures, and small tables topped with inlaid tile.

In 1953, a Martz lamp was part of the Good Design exhibition at New York City’s…

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