With the growing popularity of the “conscious consumer,” some industries have seen phenomenal growth, like secondhand. By 2030, the secondhand industry is expected to reach $80 billion in value. Talk about something being junk to one and treasure to another. I must admit, before I began shopping secondhand, I gave the secondhand market major side eye. I could not imagine having someone else’s stuff, especially wearing someone else’s stuff! So what happened? I was booked to style a last minute photoshoot and the budget was nonexistent, so I ended up walking through the doors of my local thrifts shops and the rest is history. Now, some of my favorite wardrobe pieces are secondhand, some bought through thrifting and others through resale. Shopping secondhand holds so many benefits, especially for the environment.
If you have the slightest interest in shopping secondhand, then you probably have thoughts on where to start and if there are any rules. Let’s get started.
Where to start?
Visit your local thrift shops; a quick Google search will point you into the right direction. First, start by scanning the shop, just to get a general overview of what the shop stocks and the atmosphere. By scanning first, this will eliminate being overwhelmed when you are ready to purchase.
2. What to buy?
Well, what do you need? Treat retail shopping like grocery shopping: never shop without a plan. Are you shopping for your wardrobe? A project? Furniture? Here, you set your own rules. Are you sticking to certain fabrics, brands, conditions, etc? For example, regarding my wardrobe, I do not buy shoes, knits, or ill-fitting garments secondhand. I do not buy well worn garments or furniture. Always shop for quality; skip the heavily manipulated garments and furniture. Get familiar with fabrics. Natural fabrics stand the test of time and these are the ones you want to purchase, such as cotton, linen, leather, wool, etc. With homegoods, shop for ceramics, glassware, wood, etc.
3. How much is too much?
Remember, you set your own rules. Buying secondhand should not have competitive pricing with buying new. I expect to pay between $5-40 for secondhand and resale clothing. For homegoods and others, it depends on the condition. Also, try to only shop with cash for secondhand; this will help curb impulse buying.
4. Get on schedule.
Most thrift shops have special sale days, like a specific category may be $1 on Thursdays. Trust me, you will want to get familiar with these dates. Also, get familiar with restock days. Some shops may restock once a week and others are restocking daily.
5. The Try-On
Other people’s stuff on your stuff, no thank you! Dress in form fitting clothes when thrifting, like athletic wear. This eliminates skin to skin contact until you can properly wash and disinfect the product. Inspect all seams, finishes, labels, snags, etc. If possible, hold the item up against light to catch any stains, tears, or any other damages that you may have missed. Check all zippers, buttons, snaps, pockets, and linings. This may seem extensive, but usually shopping secondhand means no returns or exchanges.
6. Respect the community
Shopping secondhand proves to be great in combating fast fashion, so it is highly encouraged. But remember most thrift shops are located in underprivileged communities. They serve as a resource for these families to buy items that help sustain their daily lives. Respect the communities and people and thrift when you are in need and not for fun, especially if you are privileged enough to buy new or to buy from sustainable brands.
More than likely, you will develop your own cleaning process, but you will want to clean the items as soon as possible. Always begin by disinfecting and then start the cleaning. For clothing, if possible, you may want to take the clothing to your local cleaners. Remember if it cannot be washed, skip it.
8. What not thrift
Again, completely up to you but some things to keep in mind. Do not thrift makeup, underwear, completely worn shoes, plastic and nonstick cookware, and heavily damaged/stained items.
Shopping secondhand can be very thrilling but it is time consuming, so patience is required. I hope with these few tips thrifting now seems less intimidating. The rules are completely up to you, so do not feel overwhelmed. Also, before this “thrifting” and “secondhand” thing took off, us moms knew secondhand as consignment. Check out this guide to consignment shopping for your children.