Anyone who has ever been surprised to find something amazing at a thrift store or garage sale can attest—there are high quality items in great shape for a sliver of the cost of buying new. It’s these little wins that have fostered my love of shopping second hand. It’s natural to want, or default, to buying new when we can afford it, but I’d argue the quality of many new items is not equal to or higher than what can be found second hand. My mind is just as blown when I see a particle board end table for $90 at Target as when I see a designer shirt for $8 at a thrift store.
The benefits of shopping second hand are plenty, but a few of my favorites include:
- keeping perfectly good items out of landfills
- saving money on well made, good quality items
- lessening the demand for new production which lowers pollution, waste and the exploitation of workers in poor conditions
- supporting, the local community, and often times organizations that are helping those in need
In my experience, if I have patience and a little bit of time I can find what I’m needing second hand. Getting my son to be patient and allow me the time to shop is more challenging but he’s got a weakness for snacks in the stroller so I’m currently winning the struggle.
I’m in a season where my small wardrobe has been worn out by pregnancy and breastfeeding. The dresses I wore pre-baby are a little too short for chasing around a toddler and I find myself in the comfort over style camp now. I’ve traded in summer dresses and rarely worn dressy tops for cotton shorts, flowy tops, button downs and long skirts. Thrift stores that take trades are the BEST, and I love getting a few new-to-me clothing items has cost next to nothing. Sign me up for the second hand shopping challenge.
The chambray button down and striped skirt were $12.50 each at My Sister’s Closet. My cotton shorts were $2 after trading in a few things at Thrift Trader, which is sadly now closed. Both my new kimono from Buffalo Exchange and my light blue t-shirt from Lost and Found were free after trade-ins as well. They can be mixed and matched to make more outfits than I need in a week.
Whenever my son is needing a new size up in clothing I head to The Baby Exchange or Baby Trader to trade in clothes he never wore/didn’t fit him well/has too many of in that size and get him what he’s needing for usually for less than $4. Almost all of what he wears now has been gifted or thrifted. Still cute as ever.
My best advice for shopping for clothes second hand is to make a list of what you need and stick to it. It’s easy to go overboard and then you’ll be stuck in the clean out cycle. Also, this makes the hunt less daunting.
When we moved into our new place we lost our nightstands to the patio and Sam’s room. At night I missed having water close by, and Jeff needed a place for his adorable coke bottle glasses. We waited 4 months to see if we really did want them, and in then end we did. I figured they needed to have hidden storage compartments since Sam is so curious. I patiently scoured Craigslist and found a set of 2 wooden tables from Loveseat, a local vintage furniture resale store for $67. Loveseat has a “make an offer” feature on their site so I was able to score them for $60 total. I doubt I would ever have found brand new tables of this quality at that price anywhere.
I unloaded a dresser, this headboard and deep freezer we didn’t need and used the cash for these side tables. It’s been a smooth cycle of clearing out what we don’t need and making space for new needs without having to touch our monthly budget or savings. My best advice for shopping for furniture second hand is to sell or donate what you don’t need first, then start your hunt.
Our first and only score from our neighborhood Buy Nothing group was an extra crib mattress we put on the patio lounge bed Jeff made. He’s pretty proud of it, as he should be!
It can be a challenge when looking for something specific and needing it in a hurry but otherwise, shopping second hand is going to be the first option for our future needs. I’m not one for extremes, so underwear and food will be “first hand” and I have no qualms about that.