Secondhand shopping is as sensible as a nun’s shoes, and those who have not tried it are simply missing out. What’s more is that those who have only tried it in trendy shops, where the prices escalate into something silly, well, that’s also missing out on the wonder that is secondhand shopping.
It’s not only about hip throwback pants, shoes, and shirts, the ones that have been deemed stylish for a second round though there is no harm in celebrating what we like. Neither is it only about retro electronics that stick out like ironic statements and buck the trend of using technology that has advanced for good reason. It’s not only about what old stuff is hip at the moment.
Secondhand shoppers are finding all sorts of reasons, ways, and new opportunities to not just continue their anti-commercial antics but actually increase them. Why do they do it? Why wouldn’t they?
1. The Savings are Stupendous.
The money saved from secondhand shopping (and more so, receiving hand-me-downs) is far beyond a discount rack or end-of-the-season sale. While many shops selling vintage clothing are not cheap, they have provided the service of sifting through jumbles and yard sales. Most specialty secondhand stores are this way, just a used camera shop, and vinyl music outfit might price things a good deal higher than a flea market, Salvation Army, or charity shop. Go where the items are general, and the prices will dwindle.
2. There is a True Surprise Factor.
In this way, secondhand shopping always has a surprise factor that visiting a department store or specialty shop doesn’t offer: We don’t know exactly is going to be on offer, and sometimes that means finding something that will far exceed our expectations. Garage sales are amazing for that. People selling things from the front lawn on a Saturday are in the span of one day means the prices are right and set to move. Rather than buying everything new right away, if we linger on the thought of what we want for a while, something surprising might pop up.
3. Buying High Quality Becomes Realistic.
Also, one of the great parts of shopping secondhand is that buying top quality items suddenly becomes realistic for those of us with low-income budgets. The solid oak furniture, though still in fine condition, costs a fraction of what it once did, as does the recliner and bookshelf. The car with a few thousand miles has dramatically reduced in value but will probably run just fine for another five to ten to fifteen years. Rather than getting the virtually disposable computer, the featureless camera, now it’s possible to move a few steps up and actually spend less money for something that’ll last. And, that makes for a more comfortable way of living.
4. It’s the Environmentally Friendly Way to Shop.
For those with a green chip on their shoulder, buying newly manufactured products should be a huge no-no. Making new things uses more resources. It requires much, much more energy, not just to make it, but to mine the ore or grow the cotton or produce the plastic. Generally, it will then have to be shipped overseas because, after all, what do we buy nowadays that isn’t actually manufactured elsewhere. Plus, there is a whole new collection of packaging that will be made and thrown away in order to buy new. But, we know brand spanking new isn’t usually necessary.
5. Buying Secondhand Often Helps Others
More or less, when we buy secondhand, it will either be from an individual person (such as on eBay or at yard sale), a small and local business (like flea market stall) or a charity operation. In other words, those dollars that we are voting and speaking with go to something other than furthering consumption culture. Usually, secondhand stores are in aid of some sort of charity, with the proceeds going to helping people help people. That seems like money truly well spent.
In the end, it doesn’t matter if we are hipsters or frugal fogeys, shopping for secondhand items — everything from instruments to homes to handbags — makes a lot of sense. We needn’t define ourselves as anything, and we can pocket the savings, help the world be a better place and all the while get what we need. That’s just plain savvy.
Image source: Flickr