How To Shop Second Hand, Part 2

Photo courtesy of smoorenburg via flickr

So, last time we discussed the basics of second hand shopping: everything from why it is worth a try to tips on what to buy (and what not to buy!), when to go and who to bring. Now, we will take it one step further and explain the different types of stores and what you’ll find at each.

Consignment stores are made up of a variety of used items that come from different people and places. The store then sells these items on their behalf, and when a sale is made the store and the original owner split the sales (based on a pre-established amount). The difference between consignment and the more commonly known thrift or second-hand stores is that the original owner of the products in consignment stores retain ownership until the item is sold; they can take back their items at any time before that, whereas thrift shop merchandise is generally found, bought or donated items that become property to one. Charity thrift stores like The Salvation Army are based off donations made by the general public, where as your average trendy thrift shop merch is quite often purchased (frequently at charity shops, or on Ebay) by the owner and then marked up for a profit.

So where do you go for what?

Consignment shops are great for things like musical instruments, old sports gear and furniture. Generally, they are filled with things of value, things people don’t want to just donate or give away. We don’t have a concrete fact on this, but we are willing to bet that since the popularity of sites like Craigslist or Kijiji, the amount of people who give to consignment is way down because now everyone has their own personal format for selling and trading used goods.

Large-scale second-hand stores like The Salvation Army and Value Village are often resources for poorer demos to find clothing, decor and accessories for cheaper prices, but over the past decade or so these stores have become spots for vintage seekers and those looking to find the obscure and impossible. If you are looking for costumes, enjoy treasure seeking or have a fondness for polyester then this is the spot for you. But don’t get us wrong (we do wear the occasional polyester) and there are hidden gems in there, believe us, we’ve found them. But you are competing with other frugal fashionistas as well as small-scale, more trendy-driven second-hand shop owners.

So why bother with the trend-driven thrift stores if they shop at VV boutique? Well convenience for one. If you find a good thrift shop and the owner or merch pullers have a similar taste to you, then that can cut your shopping time in half, or more. And, after they get a hold of the merch from those places they often will do repairs or cleanings that a charity shop just can’t afford.

Plus, we generally prefer the smell. Stay tuned: our next edition will look at safety risks while second-hand shopping, and how you can protect your family.

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