Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Shopping "New To You" Items - What You Need To Know

I have always been open to thrift shopping. I mean, as a teenager I didn't have much spending money so thrift stores were a part of my life... A small part. As I got older they remained in my life but still weren't something I depended on. I always felt like I was that person who never found anything good while my friend next to me (you know who you are!) always grabbed the cutest items seconds before my eyes found them. I guess what Im getting at is that I didn't really shop second hand enough to make a difference. I wasn't really in it to win it, if you will. The last couple of years though my relationship with second hand items has gotten much stronger. I have learned some things about buying used like where to look and how to find the best deal. I have learned how to haggle and occasionally even barter. In light of all this new knowledge I have also decided I will no longer shop retail for clothing, shoes or other "fun" items like home decor and even toys. The exception to this is clearance items, really good coupons (like Hobby Lobby's weekly 40% off coupon) or gift cards.

I figured there might be some of you who are like me way back when who would like to know where people are finding such fantastic stuff for super low prices. So, without further ado, here is everything you need to know about shopping second hand!

Patience. This is a big one and it is the one that took me the longest to figure out. I used to go shopping with the goal to leave with something, maybe particular and maybe not. I would stop at a thrift shop and look through the racks, find nothing and go spend money at the mall. Oh how I would like to go back to younger me and set her straight! Patience pays, literally. If you don't find what you want then come back later. You will find something. This is especially true if you are also keeping an eye on craigslist or other local yard sale websites, more on that in a minute. Another element to this is don't settle! Don't buy junk just because it's cheap. I can honestly say that with a little patience I have been able to find nearly new items for an excellent value. This includes everything from home decor, clothing, tools and lawn mowers. This is probably the hardest thing to learn but patience really pays off!

Location, Location, Location! All thrift and consignment stores are not made equal. It's true. For example, in my home town Goodwill is the place to go for pretty much everything. Not only is the selection great but the prices are awesome. Here, not so much. In fact, I have checked them out so many times and found nothing (and if I did the prices were way to high) that I rarely even go anymore. Instead, I go to a couple other small local shops and look online. Scout out all your local second hand shops and find the ones that consistently have the best loot for the best price.

The "Deal". Part of the fun is getting a great deal. In fact, thats the best part for me. I love coming home and saying "Look at this shirt, its in perfect condition and I only paid $5 (or less)". Nothing is more irritating than buying something used and then realizing I still spent money I could have saved. I can't tell you how many times I've had to pass up a great find because it wasn't a great deal. This goes along with the above tip. Not all thrift stores have good prices. Scout out your area before you actually shop, see who has the best selection for the best prices. Another part of getting a good deal is learning to negotiate. Most thrift stores wont do this but when you are working with a personal seller you often have some wiggle room.

Sales and Discounts. A lot of shops offer special discount or sale days. For example, most Goodwills have color tag discounts. Maybe you go in and the tag color of the day is green. Anything you buy with a green tag is 5, 10 or sometimes even 30% off. I know other shops do this also so be sure to ask when you go in if they have any special discounts or sales going on. If you are a senior, teacher, student or in the military ask if they offer an added discount. Ask if they have a membership discount or punch card, maybe they have a newsletter or monthly email that sometimes include coupons. Here at the big thrift shop you get the tag discount and if you shop on tuesdays you get an extra 10% military discount. Its pretty great! Don't be afraid to ask. You are not "cheap" for wanting to save as much as you can.... Just cause you aren't buying new doesn't mean you aren't over spending!

Thrifting Online. Im sure you have all heard of by now, but do you shop it? I am almost daily checking to see what is in the household, baby, toy and free section. I can't tell you how many things I have found on there! The best part is that most of the time people are willing to negotiate price and they actually have a section for people looking to barter! In the free sectin you can find anything from fire wood to coupons to packages of unused diapers to furniture. Ask around and use google to find a local yardsale website. There is a great website called that sells nearly new childrens clothing for great prices, it also takes consignment items! Facebook is packed full of local buy/sell/trade pages. If you live in a military town, there is a yardsale website for you just google "Fort (insert name) yardsales". Of course, beware of spammers and follow the recommended cautions when dealing with online classifieds.

Consignment.  Consignment is great! Generaly it is mine and my husbands things that go to consignment shops because I usually pack away my kids clothes to be used again in the future. Basically you take in your clothing that is still in new, nearly new or gently used condition. You are given either cash or store credit for your items. The store takes care of the sale fore you so it is very hassle free. Here you get 50% if you take cash, 60% if you want store credit. This works out great for me! Look around and find out who has the best rates in your area.

Know What You Want. This goes hand in hand with patience. I keep a running list of things I need and want for myself and family. This is everything from clothing to home decor to tools. When I am at a thrift shop or online if I happen to see it for a good deal then I grab it! Something always comes around. Recently I was able to find a dozen quart jars for $6 and a filing cabinet for $5! If you are on the look out for furniture or other similar items a good thing to have in your purse is the measurements you need, some women even carry color swatches to make sure things match.  Also keep in mind that a little creativity goes a long way. I like to get on pinterest and look at DIY projects so that I have plenty of ideas handy. I might find the perfect lamp in the wrong color but I know how to make it into something I want with a little work.

I think that's all I've got for now! My last tip would be to always check these places first before going elsewhere. I am even checking online and in thrift shops for my holiday gifts! I have already found a brand new set of mega blocks for my sweet little boy for only $5 rather then $15 from the store. Saving money while getting my family our needs and wants makes me feel good! I know I am making our money stretch to all the places it needs to go. I am helping us achieve our long term goals like buying a home and getting out of debt that much quicker. Plus... I like to brag, so there's that too, hehe!

Do you buy "new to you" items? Why or why not? What are your best tips?

Written By Happily Domestic Contributor: Brittney Thompson

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1 comment:

Trish and Rob said...

I was in Goodwill yesterday shopping for myself. I usually go there for my husband's work jeans, but I have been juicing and lost a little weight so I wanted to try gong down a size but didn't want to go back to Old Navy for more Rockstar jeans just yet.
I got 4 nice pairs of jeans all in great condition, a size down from what I wore into the store, and I found five nice tops for winter all for about forty dollars!
Last summer I scored a beautiful two piece dress/ jacket that was my size and still had the original store tag on it! I forget what the tag said but I paid $12 for it and that was a small fraction of the original price. It was perfect for a formal occasion and I have worn it twice already.

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