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Beginner's Guide to Buying Secondhand

One of the best ways to save money on necessities is to buy secondhand. Clothes, housewares, tools, furniture, cars…the possibilities are endless. Here’s a quick guide to making it worth your time and effort.

Thrift Stores: The best place for beginners. The selection is constantly changing and the prices are always reasonable. Remember to always test appliances and to check carefully for flaws. This is a great place to find housewares, clothes, furniture, and baby items.

Consignment Stores: Most consignment stores are more expensive than thrift stores, but you will spend less time searching and the items are of higher quality. Consignment stores have mostly furniture, home goods, and clothes. If you have kids, be sure to look out for stores like Once Upon a Child, which specializes in children’s consignments.

Yard Sales, Estate Sales and Rummage Sales: There are some great deals to be had at these sales, but be prepared to spend a whole morning. You can find everything from kids’ clothing to tools to treadmills at these sales. At a yard sale, you can directly haggle with the seller to get a great price. A good rule of thumb is to never pay more than 20% of new retail price for any item. Estate sales are typically run by companies hired to run the sale, so they can be harder to negotiate. However, you can get great deals on housewares and furniture at estate sales. Church and organization rummage sales are excellent opportunities to buy good quality clothes, housewares, and furniture. Check on www.craigslist.org and the newspaper classifieds to find the best sales in your area. Remember: if someone is dead or moving, they are willing to part with it for less.

Craigslist.org: Craigslist is the best way to find particular items you need at a fraction of the price. Furniture, cars, jewelry, clothes, baby supplies, pets, tools…you can buy almost anything on Craigslist. You will probably need to have an email account in order to communicate with sellers. Remember to always bring someone with you when you go to pick up an item you would like to purchase on Craigslist. Also, NEVER wire or send money before you pick up the item. Bring cash or a money order with you and only hand it over when you verify that the item is in good condition.

eBay.com: eBay is an excellent way to buy specialty items. It is an auction site, so you’ll be competing with other buyers for items. Also, you will have to pay for shipping. You will need an email account, an eBay account, and a PayPal account (which requires a credit or debit card). eBay has almost anything you can imagine.

Remember to always check secondhand sources before you buy new – you can save a lot of money.

*Written by Joanna Bixler, Cooper Branch Librarian


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