On any given day if you saw my bank account, you'd probably be horrified. I've never made a lot through my work so it's made me kind of a homemaker to make up for it. We all know it's hard to "make" a home with limited cash. Furniture and decor get pricey quickly and - at least with furniture- if you care about the quality you will pay for it. Literally.
There are plenty of things I wouldn't buy used but I have gotten out of the habit of turning up my nose to something used when the quality is something that holds! Before delving into the world giving old items new life, there are something to know and consider.
Why are you shopping
First, why are you shopping? Shopping without intention is always a huge mistake- at least for my wallet! Are you just looking, searching for a specific piece, a gift, something to match something you already own?
Your answer will help you get to your next question to ask yourself.
Where you are shopping
So where ya gonna go?
There are SO many secondhand shopping retailers now. From locally owned consignments, Goodwill, Plato's Closet, and Estate Resales, each type of place serves it's own purpose.
If you're looking for a secondhand prom dress (this is so smart to do! They are in great condition generally since they have only been worn once!) you'd want to go to a locally own consignment shop as that is a popular resale item. A quick themed costume for a party? Probably Goodwill. Vacation is soon and you don't have anything special for it? Plato's Closet type outlets would be where you want to go for quality checked clothing that is "in style."
Finally one of my favorite places to hit up are the places that sell things from large estates. That's where I find the GOOD furniture. We are talking real, heavy wood, hand carvings into the side kind of merchandise at a great price (comparatively.) It will be significantly more expensive than a Goodwill but still a huge discount from what it would have been. This is because most places that sell that stuff have purchased it from the owner OR have to give them some sort of kickback after it's sold.
Nothing is worse than drive willy nilly on your day off store-to-store and not finding what you need. Map it out to what makes sense!
Top 3 Secondhand Shopping Tip n' Tricks
Don't go crazy
For impulse buyers, this is a hard one. You have to remember going into this that everything will be on "sale." The entire reason you're doing this (probably) is for the good deal. Don't go in with the mindset of "this is a deal I can't refuse!"
Look for what you are looking for. You might stumble upon unplanned magic- it does happen. When is does, ask if they hold items or when they got the item. If it's been there a while, you probably have some time to think about it. If they do holds, sleeps on it. If you still can't live without it then it's meant to be!
Secondhand shopping can get MORE expensive if you turn it into overshopping. Quality over quantity.
TAKE YOUR TIME
I don't just mean taking a night to think about if you want to buy that living room set. I mean, take your time physically walking through the store. Quite a few of these stores don't have the greatest organization. Stuff will be stacked on top of eachother, inside one another, hidden etc. Sift through and get your hands on some stuff. (Bring hand sanitizer.)
Look up retail price
This one is for the penny pinchers!
Hi, fellow penny pincher here. Sometimes, secondhand buying isn't worth it. It might end up being around the same price if the item turned over was basically new. The person selling it might also be kind of scammy. Check out the retail price for the item with a simple google search. Either reverse search the image or use the tag to look it up traditionally and compare.
Check out the quality of what you have verses what it would look like if it were new. Also, READ THE REVIEWS! No sense in buying a discounted item that you won't end up liking for a major flaw in the design that you don't know about until you use it.
Other ways to acquire things secondhand: Shops aren't the only way to get your hands on some thrifty items!
What are friends for? I always give my girlfriend's first dibs on my clothing donations! Just because I didn't end up wearing it as much as I thought didn't make it a bad blouse! It's not weird to give a friend's outfit a second chance to party.
Friends don't just have clothes you might like. If someone is moving away, they might have furniture to get rid of! The great thing about friends is it's an easy transaction. Either free or just walk up and give them whatever was decided.
Follow signs! Hit up the nearby yard sale or drive around until you hit a few. They are ALL the time and once you start seeing the signs, you'll never stop. Through a ton of junk you just might find something that was completely underappreciated.
Your own garbage
Your not a dumpster diver until it's other people's garbage.
I'm not saying to actually go through your trash cans but when you do your giant spring clean to throw the old and unused out, take a look with fresh eyes at the items and see if one is an upcycle project waiting to happen! I've used scrapwood and old furniture to make bookshelves and more.
P.S. Don't become a hoarder though. Give yourself the one month rule. If you don't start the project within a month, you probably won't and should just let it go like originally planned.
FAVORITE SECONDHAND ITEMS FROM MY OWN STASH
This china cabinet and china set:
These finds came from Estate Resale in Surprise, AZ. Half of our house is furnished from there! The china cabinet was under $200 and the novelty printed china set, just $100. China cabinets with the same amount of storage go for $900 and up. A full set of vintage china complete with gravy boat and tea set goes for hundreds as well. A STEAL and we get compliments on it all the time.
Baby's grow fast. Everyone knows that. With that, it means they don't use things for very long before they are past that stage. I welcomed used baby items *from people I was close with* allllll day long. I borrowed a bassinet from a good pal because we only would use it for 8 weeks, got some great Montessori type toys from church friends, high end baby clothes from others.
Take the baby clothes from friends and buy less. HEED MY ADVICE. SAVE THE MONEY. Your baby is naked or shirtless/pantless half the time for the first year anyway.
This book shelf:
An example of an upcycle from our own garbage. We took one wooden standard bookshelf that we were trying to donate and turned into a childrens book shelf/toy storage unit AND another little book shelf for my son's themed room. Hubby did the carpentry, I did the design and decorative aspects. We are a good team for projects like this.
From local consignments and garage sales, I give you, my record collection! I have some original presses of Elton John albums, Doobie Brothers, Aerosmith and more. Not that those are rare but they are just awesome albums that sound great with a little crackle and spin.
OK KIND OF A JOKE but kind of not.
I wouldn't consider adoption secondhand shopping because I do hate calling it "shopping" when you're adding a member to the family BUT, here's a funny story.
Back when my husband and I were dating, he had to move to Michigan for a couple years before I could. I didn't want him to be so lonely so I said he should adopt a dog. He needed a little convincing so I went online and found some rescues. One of the links I sent him, on a whim he applied for. Hours later he said he'd be visiting me that weekend and picking up the puppy.
We found out Harley, formerly known as Goldie, was part of a bunch of puppies born into this rescue organization. She was the only one returned. :( Sad. Turns out the father got her as a surprise for their kid who decided she didn't want the puppy. (So I assume this child will be a serial killer one day.) The father brought "Goldie" back and even after two show weekends, no one wanted her.
To this day, we can't figure out why. She looks like a teddy bear turned into a housepet. She's docile. Great with kids. Energetic when you want her to be but sleeps when you need to get your own stuff done. Would have made a great dog for that first family BUT GLAD SHE DIDN'T.