You may know that I love to buy most of my stuff second hand. I love doing that. When you buy something second hand you pay so much less than when you buy things new. I also love the fact that items had a previous life and that they show some character. An item you buy second hand is even more unique than a store bought one. But there are downsides about buying everything second hand. I still don’t think they are as big as the cons but they are there and they are really important to take in to consideration. Plus if you know about the downsides you are more likely to make thrift shopping a success!
Read the 10 downsides of buying second hand (or how to make thrift shopping a success) after the jump. . .
1. You are more likely to buy stuff you don’t need.
When you are able to buy things really cheap the changes are that you are buying more than you need. That fabric is so lovely (but you have no idea what to do with it), that lampshade or chair is just a bargain (but you don’t have place for it in your home) or those pans have the most amazing print on them (but you already have more than enough).. These are real examples from my thrift shop experiences and it’s something I’m still struggling with. I have SO MUCH STUFF. I’m busy trowing and giving lots of it away. I just can’t keep everything. But it’s way better to keep this in mind BEFORE you go thrift shopping. Don’t buy stuff you don’t need. And if you do you should trow something else away. I’m working on this one. I hope I to master it one day.
2. Buying second hand takes patience.
Finding exactly what you want or need can take a lot of time when you buy second hand. It’s not as easy as buying from a store. For example when we needed a ‘new’ couch we had to wait for almost six months before we found the right one. If we would have just bought a new one we could have been ready in days. But if you buy second hand you have to find the right deal. We didn’t want to spend too much at our couch, it had to be leather, it should be modern, in the right color, not to beaten up and from a thrift store with a delivery service because a couch doesn’t really fit into my car. In the end we found a black Ikea Klippan couch with a black leather chair (also from Ikea) for just 35 Euro’s including delivery. Other times you have to wait way longer than just six months. Especially with rare items. It may take years before you find that perfect chair, but if you do you couldn’t be happier.
3. Many second hand items need some work.
If you buy something second hand you have to be prepared to do some work yourself. It’s not like buying a new item that’s already completely finished. Especially for furniture this is the case. That table or chair is probably used for years and years and is now in desperate need of some tender love and care. But if you do the work your item will be one of a kind afterwards.
4. You don’t always know if it’s still working.
In some cases when you buy something you are not able to test if it’s still working. For example a vintage camera is not easily tested at the thrift store. Also on flea markets you have to take someone’s word for it if you want to know if appliances are still working. And believe me; it doesn’t always work. But if you accept that possibility and if you don’t pay a lot of money for the item it doesn’t have to be a really big problem. But know that not everybody knows exactly what they are selling or are completely honest about it.
5. You don’t always know the previous owner.
If you don’t know the previous owner, you don’t know their lifestyle and cleanliness. So some items who are not easy to clean, like a matrass for example, you shouldn’t buy second hand. It’s just not very healthy. So before you buy something you have to think about how you would clean it. If it’s impossible to clean it completely you have to consider if that’s a problem for you or your health.
6. You have to be willing to negotiate.
If you really want to have a good deal you need to negotiate on the price. In most thrift stores and at markets it’s easy to negotiate on the price of the items but you have to dare to do it. Not everybody likes negotiating on prices. I’m not always doing it, especially when something is already very cheap, but on bigger items I usually always do it. Buying cheap is one of the good things about buying second hand.
7. You sometimes have to make concessions when you buy second hand.
Sometimes you are looking for an item but you don’t have a lot of time to find it or you are running out of time. If you don’t find it you have two options; settle for something less perfect or buy it new. I have done both. If you really need something you have to make a concession. I have done so on my couch. It isn’t exactly what we wanted, but it will do for now.
8. You have to look at a lot of second hand trash to find your treasures.
If you are going to a thrift store you will find that they have lots and lots of trash. Many items are just too ugly, not complete, too stained or just too out of date. You have to look at all of those items to find your little treasure. It also means that you can find nothing but trash and you leave the thrift store empty handed. But remember; Sometimes just a small treasure that makes it all worth it.
9. It’s not always easy to see what a second hand item could be.
Not every item is already beautiful when you buy it. Some items are, like I said before, in desperate need of some work. If you are willing to do the work, that doesn’t have to be a problem. The only question is: can you really spot the treasure between the trash? It’s not always easy to see what you can do with an item. It may need more than just a little bit of paint. For example: if you buy a cabinet you can paint it, change the handles, put new legs under it, change the glass… Just use your imagination. You can also get a lot of inspiration from blogs and Pinterest.
10. Buying second hand can take up a lot of your time.
If you buy a lot of your items second hand it can consume a lot of your time. You don’t know if you will find the item you want at the first place you are looking. It may take many, many visits to thrift stores and markets before you find exactly what you want. I like the search, I love the feeling of finding something great between the trash. But if you want something quick, buying second hand may not be for you.
I hope this will help you when you go thrift shopping! Do you love doing it or are the downsides to big for you? XO Wilma