Shopping at secondhand stores and consignment boutiques is an art. The finds can be incredible, but it takes patience and a keen eye to find the real gems. Secondhand shops vary widely, from mass department stores which show little to no discretion as to what they carry (Goodwill, Value Village, etc.) to boutique stores which sell designer items only, cost a bit more. If you are on a tight budget, you can build an entire career or upper-end stores and even wardrobes by buying secondhand, and you will always look fabulous and happy.
The following are some of the killer Secondhand Shopping tips you can use to be a successful and frugal secondhand shopper.
1) Look for brand names.
This should go without saying, but it doesn’t. Look for quality items with upper-end labels still intact. Check all the elements carefully for damage – rips, stains or defects in clothing, and chips or other damage in household items – before you put anything in your cart for consideration. Try all clothing on, and look all items over carefully again before purchasing.
2) Know exactly what suits you.
Whether it’s home decor or clothing, you must show restraint when searching secondhand stores, in order to avoid buying junk, you’ll regret later. Sometimes the deals can seem so wonderful it’s difficult to resist, but make sure you ask yourself if you really need or want that item, and ideally ask would you want it if it was full price. Know what types of clothing flatters you, and be sure to scan your home or wardrobe before you leave home so that you’ll only buy things which complement what you already have.
3) Be patient.
Looking through racks of clothing and goods, even in the smaller boutiques, is exhausting and requires stamina. Go when you have a full stomach, lots of energy and lots of time to browse and try things on. Especially in the larger stores, it can take some serious digging to find the few beautiful treasures buried within rows of castaways. Take your time and know what you are on the hunt for.
Try visiting secondhand stores in other cities when you visit. You’ll fill out your wardrobe with a variety of things you may not find in your home town, and each piece will feel like an extra-great find.
4) Identify the shops in your area and visit as often as possible.
Just remember it is opportunity shopping. Eventually, over time, you can build a great store and wardrobe for your home.
5) Keep a list of what you need to purchase.
This is a technique that helps to keep a clear head while you look at several great items, and it is easy to get distracted.
6) Think outside the box.
If you come across a fabulous find, but it isn’t the right size for your children – think of a friends or relatives that might like to receive the item as a gift for a birthday or Christmas.
7) Think ahead.
You might find a lot of items which might not be handy at the moment but will be in the time to come. For example, you may find lots of winter clothes through the summer months that you can store until it gets cold – the same goes for bigger sizes that will fit eventually.
8) Check the quality.
This will enable you to acquire genuine as well as goods in good if not perfect condition. For example, in clothing, apart from the obvious stains, missing buttons, broken stitching check for a spare button on the side seam tag or at the bottom of the placket, turn the garment towards the natural light and check again for marks that do not show up in shop light.
9) Get creative.
This is where you change something in an item in what has been considered unworthy be worthy and fruitful to you. For example, you have just found an item to die for in excellent condition, but there is a nasty stain on it somewhere. You can simply cover it up with sequins, decorative patch, rosettes – anything. Completely change buttons on a shirt or dress if there are one or two missing, add a lace hem.
10) Know your labels.
Some labels have a stronger resale value – then know your eBay and sell it when you don’t need it anymore.
11) Do your math well.
Know exactly what you spend regarding money, time and emotions on firsthand clothes shopping. Count parking, queues, shopping with kids, food and maybe some rides/bribes. Then jump online and secondhand shop during the evening with a cup of tea or glass of wine in hand. Compare price, time, emotional expense – and add that up.
12) Know other sources
ARC Thrift Stores, Savers or similar where you live, baby markets, garage sales that advertise items as well as bricks and mortar shops and good old eBay.
More Great Secondhand Shopping Tips
Here is a video from our friends over at My Green Closet with some additional tips. Great additional information.