How To Have Success Shopping Second Hand

We love shopping second hand as much as we possibly can. Whether it’s clothes, furniture, plant pots, tools or soft furnishings. We always work with the theory that if there is something we need, we’ll always find it second hand, it might just take a little longer to find it!

So why should you shop second-hand? There are just so many reasons why you should give shopping second hand a go. However here are our absolute top reasons why buying second-hand is the best thing you can do:

It’s good for the planet

You are buying what is already in existence instead of new products which require new resources and energy to be created. We only have a finite number of resources, and we just cannot continue using them all up without consequences. New products need energy to be created, which in turn means more carbon emissions which contributes to global warming. By instead choosing to buy second hand, you are not creating a demand for new products to be made.

You take items out of the waste stream

If an item does not sell in the thrift store, charity shop, at the flea market.. it often ends up going to landfill. By choosing to buy these items it removes this possibility.

It’s super kind on your wallet

When money is often tight, it’s great when you can get beautiful or super practical items for a fraction of the price of what it would have cost new. We are pretty much always on a budget, especially with our house renovation, so keeping costs down is really important to us.

You can find some super unique pieces

Rather than just buying the same as what everyone else is getting in the shops, you can find some rare items rather than just purchasing what is on-trend at the time. We love quirky and different things, and vintage and handmade items, so we absolutely love having a collection of belongings that are truly unique.

It’s so much fun to see what you can find

Often you have no idea what to expect, even if you are searching with a specific list of items you can spot things that you completely love that you hadn’t even thought of. You feel awesome when you find such a killer piece especially if it was a bargain!

It forces you to slow down

In this world, it is far too easy to want something and instantly buy it with a few clicks of a button. By having to search for it second-hand, it slows you down and makes you appreciate what you are buying so much more.

There can often be a little bit of a stigma around shopping second hand, that everything is old, worn out, broken, or just not that nice. All of that does exist out there, but if you are smart about how you search you can find some seriously awesome things. And it makes it all worth it!

So how do you find those gems? It can take a little bit of patience, and a strategic approach, but if you are determined then we know you can find some lovely and also practical items.

Here is our step-by-step guide for shopping second hand:

1. Have a vision for what you want

Start with a vision of what you want to find before you start looking. Make a mood board on Pinterest, save some inspirational posts on Instagram – whatever works for you. Whether you’re looking for home decor, clothing, furniture.. think about the sort of materials, textures, patterns, and have a colour scheme in mind too. Are you after neutral colours? Reds and oranges? Whatever your vision is, have it in your mind before you start to search.

For us, we are very much into natural colours, textures and materials. We are drawn to browns and creams the most, and natural materials such as wood, linen, cotton, metal, clay and bamboo, and simplistic items that don’t have writing or images on them. We are drawn to vintage items as we love the character and history they have compared to more modern items. However we do like buying newer items too, it really depends on the individual piece.

By creating a vision in your mind, and having a specific style to look for will make your search so much easier.

2. Make a list of items you are looking for

This may seem obvious, but create a list and be specific with what you are after. For example, we might go out looking for blankets for the dogs, or for plant pots for the garden. Or some quirky pieces that we would like to put on display on a particular shelf in our home, or a basket to collect fruit in. You get the idea! By having a list you can constantly look out for those specific items, and you will be much more likely to find them on the busy shelves. Whenever we go out with a specific target in mind, we usually find those items much easier rather than just having a rough idea of the style of items we want.

3. Find your local second hand spots

With your now specific list and style of items you’re after, you can begin your search. What sort of places near you sell second-hand items? Are there boot-fairs, flea markets, garage sales, charity shops, thrift stores? Find out what is happening in your area. You can do a Google search, or simply just ask your friends and family. Make sure to keep an eye out for signs for boot-fairs/flea markets whilst you are out and about as well! If all else fails, Facebook Marketplace can also be a goldmine for finding second-hand goods so keep that in mind as an option too.

4. Know how to search once you’re there

So you are now in the charity shop/thrift store/at the flea market. How do you organise how you look amongst the chaos? Start at one side, and slowly scan along the items. I primarily look for the colours and materials I have in mind first – I have a very neutral colour pallet taste, with often natural and vintage materials drawing my attention first. Try to imagine the items individually, rather than seeing them amongst the clutter. Would this look great displayed on one of my shelves, thrown on my bed, hung on my wall? If you’re looking at clothing and you can try it on, take advantage!

Don’t be afraid to dig and rummage. Sometimes beautiful items can be pushed back on shelves, get hidden amongst other things or just buried in a box. If you are at a boot-fair, people often don’t display their items clearly so it really pays to have a good look through any boxes they may have. People want to sell their items, so don’t feel awkward for going through their things thoroughly!

5. Do a quality check

If you spot something you like, pick it up and have a good look at it. Is it in good condition? Are there any cracks, chips, has it worn in any area? Is it partially broken or does it just need a good clean? Don’t be put off by an item if it is dirty, it is very common with shopping second hand and it is just one of the reasons why buying second hand is so affordable. However, if you find the item is broken or damaged, is it something that can be fixed? Would you get around to fixing it yourself? If the answer is no, put it back. We want to be buying good quality items that we know we will use and enjoy. There is no point cluttering up your home with items you won’t use.

6. Check yourself before you buy

If you have found an item you like, and it’s in good condition, make sure you have a use for this item. Do you have somewhere specific you plan to use it? Is it something that you were after? If it’s not, and you are clueless on how to utilise it, put it back. If it’s something that needs to be fixed or altered, schedule in some time now to get it done otherwise it can get forgotten. Remember, we want to buy beautiful items that we know we’ll love and treasure. Otherwise it is easy for these purchases to end up as clutter.

7. Ensure you are getting the best price

If you have found a brilliant item, find out the price. If you are in a shop, the price will often be on the item anyway and will be fixed. But if you are at a market, then it is usually possible to haggle. Don’t be afraid to ask, the worst that can happen is they say no and you end up paying the full price. If it’s an item you love, then it’s still a win!

So there you have it, this is our process for shopping second hand. It can be more work than conventional shopping, but once you find a system you enjoy you will start to look forward to it! We find it so rewarding, especially when you find exactly what you were looking for at a bargain price. We hope you find this method helps you – happy second hand shopping!




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