Tips For Secondhand Shopping

secondhand shopping

Secondhand September is upon us and it is such a great time for us to shift our focus from buying everything brand new to thinking about what other options are available to us. In the past, I have been that snob. I have thought of secondhand items as not being good enough, not being luxurious enough and not being for me and I do believe that there was a lot of this mindset going around when I was growing up in the 90’s (coincidentally this was also the time when many of those so called “convenient” disposable items came to market too) but I have most definitely been converted and I am so, so glad to see a flurry of change coming with a lot more of us waking up to the damage that large corporations and fast fashion companies are causing to the planet in both pollution and greenhouse gases. Shopping secondhand is now seen as you being more environmentally friendly, as you being super savvy, it allows you to find one off pieces and to create unique collections inside your home. So, how do you go about shopping successfully in this way? Here are my tips for secondhand shopping…

Make A List

This is an important point if you have something specific that you are shopping for. It can be very easy to become overwhelmed when looking for exactly what you want in secondhand shops. There can be many items that catch your eye and suddenly you’ve lost time and your train of thought, so the best way to prevent this from happening is to make a list of what it is you really need before you head on out. This will help you to stick to a plan, to get around more shops and hopefully find that much-wanted item.

Of course, this isn’t needed for online pre-loved sites BUT do still keep your head in the game, I for one know how you can suddenly lose a good half an hour because you are distracted by what else Facebook Marketplace has to offer you!

Look For The Potential

When you first start out becoming a secondhand shopper you will often find that your normal shopping habits of looking for a perfect item will sneak in and take over but by doing this, you may well be missing out on some gems. Do not overlook those items that may need a bit of work, a lick of paint perhaps? Maybe some clothing that needs altering? Because even if you can’t do it all yourself, you may know somebody who could help and you could end up with an amazing piece for very little money.


Following on from the above point, upcycling has certainly become one of my favourite ways of making an old piece of furniture more appealing and it can be so, so simple. Most chalk paints will completely alter the way an item looks and with zero prep. A couple of coats of paint and you can transform that old pine into a shabby chic piece that will look beautiful in any room. Do not pass off on an item just because of the finish it has. If it is the style you are after, just work your magic.

me and William painting the corner unit

Shop Around

You wouldn’t ever expect to find all you want in one full-price shop so don’t expect to do this with a secondhand store either. Most high streets have a good range of charity shops now so this will allow you take browse, look at your options and select from the best and most suitable. Oh and of course, keep going back too because the beauty of charity shops is that their stock changes constantly.

Embrace The Browsing

A big part of going to secondhand shops is the browsing especially if you have popped in on the off chance and don’t have a particular item in mind. For instance, if you know you are going in just for clothes, this is quite easy to view as they are all put out in size and often style order now. However, if you are going in for books, toys, homeware, you may need to spend a little longer to browse through all that is on offer and be prepared to really take your time. Once you get that secondhand buying bug, you will love this part!

funky mugs in a charity shop

Call Ahead

If you are really in need of something in particular or you are stretched for time, you could always call your favourite secondhand shop to find out when their best times are for visiting, when they put new stock out, when they sort through their donations and you could also ask if they could keep an eye out for the item for you. Getting to know the staff in your local shops could be really beneficial.

Grab Those Gifts!

I know I said to go in with a list but you can’t help having your eyes drawn to other items and if you see something that would make a great gift for a birthday or Christmas (no matter how far away that may be), grab them and store them away. Those items won’t be sat around for long and you don’t want to be kicking yourself if you leave, change your mind and go back for them only to find they are gone. It is also a fantastic way of spreading the costs over the year and being super organised.

eBay Shopping

If online shopping is more your thing, then eBay is most probably already on your radar. Now, it can be very easy to become overwhelmed by the many buying choices on here so I have few tips just for this site.

  1. Limit your search by refining it in the advanced search section. Here you can specify exactly what it is you want, for example, a size 14, blue dress, short sleeves and you can even select if you want a buy it now option or bid. This way you won’t be trawling through thousands of options and you should hopefully get what you are looking for.
  2. To get a better deal, try and shop outside of season.
  3. If you are looking for kid’s clothes, try only looking at bundles. You will get far more for your money, the postage will be better on your pocket and if you don’t like some of the items you can simply re-list them.
  4. Use your watch button as much as you can. Don’t get caught up in bidding wars days before it ends, you’ll just end bumping the price right up. Instead, watch it, come back to it and bid at the last minute or even seconds.
  5. And if you still want to support a charity, eBay has its own online charity shop too.

Facebook Marketplace and Freebie Facebook Groups

Marketplace is a great place to find not only exactly what you need but at a great price – sometimes you can even find it for free. Just like eBay, here you can refine your search and if you don’t find what you are after on the first look, just keep coming back to it. During lockdown we literally trawled marketplace every day for bikes and after several weeks we ended up purchasing what we needed, all in great condition and all for great prices. Facebook is also now awash with freebie groups, our local one has 20k people in it who post daily with items they need to find new homes for. I have used it myself to pass on a cot, Moses basket and toys and it is brilliant for helping you to declutter whilst giving a helping hand to somebody else.

Secondhand Apps

Other places you could also give a go are Depop, Vinted, Shpock, letgo, Declttr, Rebag, Poshmark. I haven’t used all of these but I have heard good things and as you can have these on your phone, you can regularly check in.

Friends and Family

If you can’t find what you are after in any stores or online, why not ask your friends and family? We tend to hate asking for help, don’t we? So asking if anyone has an item that you need can feel very alien but you never know, it might well pay off! I was hunting high and low for a child’s bike seat but due to everybody else doing the same thing, there was very little on offer and the prices were hiked up. I then decided to ask on Facebook just in case anybody had one they were willing to pass on or sell and sure enough, a few moments later I had a comment saying that they had one just gathering dust in their garage and that I was welcome to it! You may also want to set up a swap shop with your friends and family, that way, everybody can feel happy to ask for something that they are in need of.

And lastly, just enjoy it! Shopping secondhand is a different experience and one that you will grow to love because when you find everything you want and need, it truly feels like you have hit the jackpot. You have saved money, you have helped out a charity or another person and you have taken another step in helping our environment.

my signature

Pin for later:

If you enjoyed this post you can follow more of our life, opinions and antics over on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. Plus feel free to come and join in with my parenting group ‘From One Parent to Another’ on Facebook.

If you’d like to contact me you can either leave me a comment or drop me a line via my contact me page.

For other topics similar to this one check out these suggestions below…

Related Posts:
Sustainability Focusses In September
wind turbines in a field

September is a pretty big month in terms of sustainability which makes it a great time to discuss important topics, Read more

What Sustainable Fashion Looks Like To Me
a road with the sign sustainability on the ground

What does sustainable fashion look like to me? ⁣I’ve wanted to touch on this for a while now for a Read more

Tips for Shopping for Ethical, Sustainable & Eco-Friendly Jewellery
lady sat with jewellery on her hands

*Collaborative Post We are all witnessing the negative effects our actions have on our planet and the environment in general. Read more

Small Businesses: What Could You Do To Be More Sustainable In 2020?
a laptop on grass outside to show a business being sustainable

*Collaborative Post The new year is almost upon us. And for business owners that means it’s time to start looking Read more

9 thoughts on “Tips For Secondhand Shopping

  1. There are so many ways to shop used items now! We have new charity shops popping up in our town quite often! I must admit I’m guilty of overlooking something that needs a bit of work though. For my birthday this year I asked my mum for a used teapot from a charity shop and she was in her element! She buys about 80% of her clothes and furniture from charity shops!
    Great list!

  2. Fantastic list. I love a good bargin and always find things much cheaper. I got my second hand gplan sofa for only £400 and it’s worth nearly 4grand had nothing wrong with it! Thanks so much for these tips.

  3. Lovely tips! As a former charity shop manager I am a BIG fan of shopping preloved. I genuinely feel you tend to find more interesting pieces, too, with both furniture and clothing.x

  4. I’m obsessed with buying secondhand I love it! I think the pandemic has given me so much more time to do it as well. Thanks for these tips, I hadn’t heard of a lot of these apps.

  5. I volunteer in a charity shop and I am always surprised at how few people think to phone ahead. We are quite happy to let people know if we have a lot of plus size fashion or baby clothes.

  6. I know what you mean by it being so easy to miss the potential of a product when you first view it second hand. But like anything a little bit of tlc and up cycling can turn a second hand item into something magical.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *