Thursday, June 14

Second Hand is the Best Discount Store

I would be fascinated to find some statistics on how many Canadians buy second-hand items on a regular basis. When I was young, my mother was very frugal (out of necessity and upbringing) and I learned about shopping in the context of being cost-conscious at all times. As I grew up and moved out, I bought many of my household items at garage sales, and for a long time there was no furniture or accessory in my house that was new except for a cheap Ikea bed.

I have started to buy new more often now, but I still love a deal and can spend hours on craigslist or ebay. Recently, I bought a car second hand through, a used lawnmower from a family run business, and a used Axim (PDA) off craigslist. Each of these are significant purchases new, and I have saved 15-75% by being willing to buy used. At a garage sale, I would expect to save 60-90% off list prices, but usually I can only find smaller items.

It's not all roses however. You need to be patient and willing to hunt for your deal. You need to be a bit flexible about what you want. (That's why I can't seem to buy a used couch - I'm too picky about how it looks.) You need to be persistent and keep checking back for new listings or stock. And you need to be willing to accept the inevitable quirks that come with the territory, such as the occasional wasted trip, oddball seller, or item that doesn't live up to it's billing.

But overall, I'm convinced that buying used saves you a bundle. And for those who love shopping - this is more real than the mall. You get the thrill of the hunt, the big find, and yes... even the one that got away. (I'm still wishing I checked my email the day my friends decided to sell their practically brand new snowblower!!)

I am going away for an extra long weekend. But while I'm gone, please share your best bargain story, or tips on where/when/how to find the best deals. Happy hunting!


Investoid said...

You and my wife must be related somehow :-) She's always on Craigslist. A couple of other good sites in canada are:

- (there's a site for each major city - eg.



I am usually a big fan of used as well, but there are times I won't touch used if I don't think I can reasonably ascertain the quality. I did just indulge and buy a new car too, but that was a conscious decision to pay a premium.

Another good angle to take is to buy at businesses that refurbish items and sell them near new. I've bought a few electronics and computers that way with little regrets. Most have a good 30-90 warranty and are at least 30% cheaper than they would be otherwise.

FourPillars said...

I like going to yard sales. Things like books are perfect if you are not too picky about what you read. I like fairly generic murder, detective, spy sort of books so paying 25 cents is much better than $10 for new.


Krystal said...

I like cruising Craigslist too, and going on the buysell, as well as eBay ... but I really don't do a lot of second-hand shopping at thrift stores or garage sales. Would like to, but it just takes too much time to dig through the stuff to find something worth purchasing.

For books, I love going to the library book purge that happens once a year ... where all the libraries in the city combine the books they want to get rid of, and put them into one location for people to buy super cheap.

Have fun on your extra long weekend! :)

Big Cajun Man said...

How else does someone keep 3 daughters in clothing without going bankrupt?

My only issue is that my wife spends $200 at these stores and comes home with 10 bags of clothing, so we are putting OUT as much clothing as is coming in!

matt said...

When I was young, my mother used to buy all of my stuff from garage sales. We lived in a small town and things were a steal at garage sales--shirts for 50 cents, etc.

I've since moved to a big city. I haven't cared to get to know this city well and the suburb in which I live is heavily regulated. I've heard of garage sales once since I've lived here and I'm told the prices are pretty much a rip-off compared to what I expect of used items (i.e., I can buy new at Kohl's for the price of their used mall clothes).

Maybe I'll have to figure out where the normal people are trying to get rid of their stuff.

I've been pretty good about hunting things down on ebay the last couple of years.

telly said...

I'm with Matt - I find Kohl's to be a pretty great place to shop for almost the same price as used.

I'm one of the few women that actually despises shopping so when I can purchase my summer wardrobe for ~$100 in 20 minutes time, I'm a happy camper. I couldn't imagine spending half a day sifting through used clothing to find one pair of shorts!