Tips for Second-Hand Shopping

In 2015, I made the choice to only buy second-hand clothing for an entire year. I made this decision for a number of environmental, ethical, and financial reasons. As a student on a low budget, second-hand shopping is an affordable option that still allows me to express my personal style. Additionally, second-hand shopping is environmentally friendly, and organizations like Goodwill Industries make it easier to invest in my local community. When the year was over, I realized that shopping exclusively for second-hand clothing was one of the best decisions I had ever made. Second-hand shopping may seem overwhelming at first, having to search through mismatched racks of clothing, some more than lightly used. However, there are so many tips and tricks one can learn about second-hand shopping in order to get the best out of the experience. Here are a few of them!

Support local independently-owned thrift stores

One major benefit of second-hand shopping is the opportunity to support your local community. One way to do this is to shop at independently-owned thrift stores run by locals. As well as allowing you to  support your community, smaller independent stores may also have unique items that you can’t find in more mainstream chain stores. Many cities even have nonprofit second-hand stores or organizations that you can contribute to. Do some research, and find independent or nonprofit stores to support in your neighborhood.

Source: Mike Petrucci

Go in with a goal

Thrift stores can be overwhelming. There are so many items, and sometimes there isn’t even a rhyme or reason for their organization. Because of this, it is helpful when second-hand shopping to enter with a goal. What specific items are you looking for? What brand names do you want to find? What is your budget? It may be helpful to bring a list with you to each store you visit, in order to make the best use of your time.

Source: Glenn Carstens-Peters

Find out about deals and sales

Many thrift stores will have regular deals and sales to encourage customers to shop with them. Subscribe to email lists or regularly check the website of your favourite second-hand store, and keep track of when great sales are taking place. Some stores will have discount cards that you can sign up for to save up points or earn exclusive deals.

Source: Shopify

Don’t be afraid to shop in other gender sections

Second-hand shopping gives you a great opportunity to step outside of your comfort zone. Since you are paying less for the clothes, you can experiment and try things you might not normally buy in a regular store. One way to do this is to utilize both the men’s section and the women’s section. The men’s section is great for items like flannel, button downs, and band tees, while the women’s section is the place for skirts, dresses, and form-fitting items.

Source: Ashim D’Silva

Make sure to check for damaged items

When browsing through second-hand clothing items, know what to look for. Before purchasing anything, check for things like holes, tears, or pilling. Make sure there are no stains and that no buttons are missing. If you really love an item, you can always take it home and take out your sewing kit for some alterations.

Source: Kris Atomic

Try things on

Just like you would in any other store, make sure you try on clothing items before you purchase them. For one, you will know if it fits and works for you before you purchase it, and you might notice wear and tear that you didn’t notice when the item was on the rack. Personally, I like to make my way through all of the aisles and racks, and then take all of my finds to the change room to try them on before I buy them.

Source: Shopify

Personalize your clothes

If you can’t find what you're looking for when second-hand shopping, make it yourself! Alter items to personalize them to your own unique style. For instance, you can cut pieces of an old T-shirt to make it a tank top or a crop top, or you can tailor a pair of pants that don’t quite fit. You can also mix and match items, colours, and patterns in interesting ways.

Source: Jazmin Quaynor

All in all, second-hand shopping is a sustainable and affordable life choice. It’s not the only way to shop, but it’s an excellent alternative to constantly buying new and expensive clothing. So why not try it from time to time? Take a trip to a local thrift store and use some of these tips to find some great treasures.