Tips for second-hand shopping

second-hand shopping

We all try to live more sustainably in our own way and reduce our ecological footprint. One way to do so is by buying second-hand items: this way you extend the life of the item and no new item has to be made for your purchase. Moreover, with many thrift stores, the proceeds go to charities: a win-win situation.

Second-hand shopping is also an answer to ‘fast fashion’, the clothing industry’s method of making and selling clothing more and more quickly and in a non-sustainable way. These clothes are worn just a few times before being discarded and replaced with a new purchase. With second-hand shopping, you counteract this as you ensure that less has to be made and that less waste is produced.

But it’s not just clothes that you can buy second-hand and at a good price: you can also get your hands on crockery, plant pots, furniture, seasonal items (think Christmas and other holidays), jewelry, tools and board games, to name just a few. Whatever you are looking for, chances are that the thrift store has it.

Here are some tips for second-hand shopping:

  1. Take your time: when you walk into a thrift store, everything seems like a mess at first sight. Second-hand shopping should not be looked upon as a ‘I’ll have a quick look’ activity because then there’s a good chance that you’ll give up quickly. When you really take the time to look at everything, you’ll find plenty of treasures.
  2. Don’t immediately be put off if something doesn’t fit or is broken. A lot can be repaired, and if you can’t do it yourself, there’s bound to be someone in your area who can. There are also plenty of places that adjust clothing for a small fee or resole shoes, for example.
  3. Try to look at the potential of certain objects. That dull, old-fashioned, battered box might not be that special now, but what if you sand it and paint it a nice color? And that vintage teacup that is no longer part of a set would look great with a small plant in it.
  4. Know the difference between antique/vintage and thrift. In the former, you will find a lot of beautiful, but most probably expensive, things. You’ll also find more brands and quality items there. In the latter, everything is really cheap and it will be all the more fun when you find something truly beautiful (you’d be surprised at what some people take to these stores to be ‘recycled’!).
  5. Look for the little things, the ‘accessories’. It’s understandable that you would rather invest in a new bed or mattress, but for the small things you’re often better off in the thrift store. Things that were de rigeur in the house 40 years ago are now ‘hip’ again and can be found in high-end stores. But why would you part with so much money for marble coasters, glass tealight holders or golden candlesticks, when they are also at the thrift store for a few cents?

Remember: if a trend is back, chances are that you’ll also find it in the thrift store.

Text Quirine Brouwer  Translation Julia Gorodecky  Photography Nathan Shurr/