5 Top Places To Go Secondhand Shopping
It's great for both the environment and your bank account.
My love of buying secondhand was born years ago out of necessity. In the middle of a divorce, I found myself with limited funds and a whole house to fill. I did not have tens of thousands of dollars to drop at a furniture store. I could have managed with cheaper, ready-to-assemble furniture made of compressed wood and plastic veneer, but with two teenagers and a dog, that flimsy stuff isn’t going to hold up the way I need. It’s also not my style.
Enter Facebook Marketplace, or — as I like to call it — my gateway drug to secondhand bargain hunting. Each great new find inspired me to be more patient with my next hunt. Soon, it wasn’t just about finding inexpensive items to fill my house; it was about the hunt.
As an added bonus, secondhand shopping happens to be fantastic for the environment. The United States is the most materialistic and disposable society on the planet. The U.S. represents only 4 percent of the population yet produces 12 percent of the world’s waste. We like buying new stuff and trashing the old; buying secondhand mitigates some of that.
Environmental concerns aside, I’d be lying if I said it didn’t absolutely delight me to discover an amazing piece of furniture for a tenth of what it would cost new, or to find a one-of-a-kind item — like a set of mid-century bakeware — that can’t be found new. So, if I’ve piqued your curiosity, here are my top five recommendations for where to find amazing secondhand treasures.
Marketplace is my favorite go-to for larger purchases. I found most of the furniture in my house, including my baby grand piano, on Marketplace. Baby grands normally cost upwards of $4,000; I got mine for $600. If you need a specific item, Marketplace has an alert feature; I found both of my teens’ dressers and my son’s acoustic guitar this way. The good stuff goes fast, especially if you’re hunting trending styles like mid-century modern or boho, so the alerts keep you from missing out on great finds.
Thrift stores and consignment
My local Goodwill is a veritable mecca for secondhand treasure hunters, but there are also several church-run or privately owned thrift shops dotted throughout town. My daughter’s nightstand came from a cool little restoration shop hidden off of a downtown side street. My vintage Christmas ornaments came from a church-run thrift shop. I find loads of name-brand, barely worn clothes from Goodwill.
The original mode of choice for those seeking great deals on previously loved items, yard sales are still very much in the game. The fun part of yard sales is that because they’re often the result of people actively trying to get rid of a large amount of stuff at once, you can negotiate prices way, way down.
I haven’t used ThredUp personally — yet — but I have friends who swear by it. It’s an online clothing retailer that calls itself “the largest online consignment and thrift store.” A browse through its catalog confirms it has absurdly reasonable prices for quality, name-brand goods.
The side of the road
Yep, I went there. It’s almost impossible for me to pass up anything made of solid wood on the side of the road. I just can’t stand to see perfectly usable furniture thrown in the trash. I’m currently typing at a kitchen table I rescued from the side of the road and refinished myself. Just the other day, my daughter and I were out for a stroll and came across a box of picture frames set out by the side of the road for trash pickup. Since she is a budding painter, we brought the frames home with us to use to display some of her work.
My love for secondhand shopping is now such that I have a hard time justifying purchasing anything new, even though I’m no longer in a precarious financial situation. Why spend hundreds of dollars on certain items when a few twenties will do? Why let furniture that just needs a little love go to the landfill? Why buy new clothes when you can get gently used, often from expensive brands, at a fraction of the cost?
Go ahead, try dabbling in secondhand shopping. It’s great for the environment and your bank account, and — if you’re anything like me — you might just find yourself having a ton of fun, too.