I'm looking for different ways to say "you're welcome." Is "sure thing" one of those ways?
If it is, then how? I looked up its meaning and it doesn't seem to make sense as a replacement for "you're welcome."
I haven't thought of it as "countryside" usage, but I am from a rural part of the US. "Sure thing" is used here all the time to respond to "thank you." It substitutes similarly to "no problem":
Thanks for helping me fix the henhouse.
Thank you for attending the barn-raising last week.
And it is similarly deflective. In other words, "no problem" means "no thanks are necessary; it caused me no trouble to offer you assistance." When you use "sure thing" like this, it is something along the lines of "no thanks are necessary; it is a sure thing (a certainty) that I would help you" or a "you don't need to thank me; of course I would have done that."
Well neither of the things that are used as replies to "thank you" is particularly logical in the direct meaning of the words
Similar to this last group I would say that
Keep in mind that the "thank you/you're welcome" communication pattern (with all variations) is used very frequently; and in such cases most of the information is transmitted non-verbally: tone, expression and body language will determine how thankful or welcoming you will appear.
In the United States, in a mid-Western regional colloquial usage, or "in the countryside" in general (as in anywhere in the U.S. that is non-urban), the expression "sure thing" can replace "you're welcome". This is very casual usage though.
If using the phrase in a work of fiction, to realistically capture dialogue, "sure thing" would be quite natural sounding. In any other context, other than casual conversation in the geographical areas I mentioned, it would not even be common usage. In most East Coast urban areas in the U.S., "sure thing" would probably be understood as a synonym for "you're welcome", though it would be unusual and maybe remarked upon as being quaint or endearingly "country".
My answer is based on consultation with two different regional speakers just now (first is a skilled tradesman from rural mid-West, second is a young resident of the San Francisco bay area), as well as my own empirical observations.
Both thought it sounded odd to respond to "Are you coming?" with "Sure thing". However, it seemed plausible for the "Can I watch?" example. I think use as a replacement for "You're welcome" is more appropriate.
In summary, the answer is yes, but only in certain circumstances.
"Sure thing" is an informal expression that means "Sure/Of course/Certainly"...
Look at this example from the NOAD:
"Can I watch?" - "Sure thing!"
Or this one taken from the OALD:
"Are you coming?" - "Sure thing."
Frankly, "sure thing" isn't another way to say "you're welcome".
"Sure thing" defined:
all right! yes indeed! used to express enthusiastic assent
As you can see, it is used as an assent, but not as a 'ritual reply to thank-you'.
If you're looking for some other ways of saying "you're welcome", you could try:
Thanks for your help!/My pleasure!