Buying second-hand – clothes, shoes, tools, books, toys, furniture – can save you a whole lot of money and give you high-quality products at the fraction of the cost – if you shop wisely.
An item’s value drops by the very fact of it not being brand-new – if I buy a pair of shoes, wear them once for five minutes and give them away to a second-hand shop, someone else can buy them very cheaply even though they are, essentially, good new shoes. Looking for such gently used items can be a very rewarding challenge.
On the other hand, there are thrift shops and there are thrift shops. Not long ago I visited one which was packed with stuff, but everything was in such disarray that I was discouraged from even browsing and went away without buying anything.
A good, well organized thrift store is well worth being put on your local map and visited regularly. My top tips for making the most out of thrift shopping are the following:
1. Check the quality – there is no guarantee and often no returns in second hand shops, so before you buy, carefully look for any tears, rips, stains, dysfunctional parts, etc.
2. Be a regular. Ordinary stores are somewhat predictable; second hand ones are full of surprises. Make it a habit to pop in once in a while so you don’t miss new great finds.
3. Resist the temptation to buy too much because it’s cheap. Remember, the goal is to save on what you really need, not fill your house with stuff.
4. When buying used furniture, beware of wood pests. You don’t want to risk infecting your whole house – getting rid of wood pests is a troublesome and almost futile task.