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During the holiday season in particular, we compromise buying items ‘new’ that we could’ve bought secondhand – for a third of the price. This is the time to give, but it’s also a time that requires either the discovery of more cash or less expensive items. From baskets to dishes, blogger Nancy Matson of Stuff You Don’t Want reminds us of all of the secondhand finds waiting to be discovered. Read on to see her compiled list of what to buy pre-owned in her neighborhood of Los Angeles and beyond, and then let us know where we can find these pretty price points in your neck-of-the-woods.
Most people would prefer a new thing over its pre-owned equivalent. The reasons for this tendency range from squeamishness to status consciousness to simple habit. You may never have the commitment or the time to comb through classifieds for the perfect end table. I get it. Even if you don’t normally dip your toe in the used market, however, there are some deals too good to pass up if you have even the tiniest inclination towards practicality and frugality.
You know that time you got a gift basket of muffins, toiletries or specialty mustard and didn’t know what do with the basket itself? That’s what happens to literally everyone. If you’ve got a thing for wicker, head to your nearest thrift store. There is no sight more common at Goodwill than a row full of baskets near the knick-knack area, and they’re rarely more than a buck apiece.
There’s a certain kind of man who is obliged to wear a tie every day to work. There are even more who wear them only grudgingly to weddings and funerals, tearing them from their necks as quickly as decorum allows. Yet, even these men regularly receive ties as gifts. These excess ties often make their way to the donation pile and are almost always priced at $2.99 or $3.99. Available at all thrift stores.
Most women have a single purse they carry around until it is so worn that shame compels them to replace it. Yet many of those same women have half a dozen other purses stuffed in their closet, barely used, rejected based on style or color or other practical considerations, which they eventually surrender to the world at large. Evening bags or purses in unusual colors are particularly easy to find. I’ve seen them start as low as $2.99. Available at all thrift stores.
Shaved ice/panini/pasta makers are often used once or not at all. I got my bread maker at a yard sale for $5.00. Though it had neither the box nor the instructions, I was able to track down this information easily online. This was an especially great deal, as they run at least $50 new, but saving between 50% and 75% off retail on a specialty kitchen appliance is easily done. Larger thrift stores have these, as does your local classifieds if you live in a big city. Buying local (as contrasted with ebay) allows you to avoid shipping charges.
I believe we’re in a golden age of vintage dishes. Older generations often had regular dishes in addition to “good” dishes, so there are a lot of sets of china left behind once they pass on. I regularly see nice sets of dishes in near-perfect condition selling for less than a dollar per piece, which is a significant savings on even a new acrylic set from Target. Virtually every estate sale has these, as do any upscale thrift stores. My local thrift store has a boutique arm that sells beautiful sets regularly. Maybe yours does, too.
Are you a Dan Brown or Nicholas Sparks fan? Lucky for you, you’re not the only one. If you’re not obsessed with getting the latest as soon as it hits the bookstore, you can snap them up for a dollar or two in due time.
In this era when it’s common for brides to overextend themselves financially to pay for their big day, they’re often looking to recover a little on the back end. That’s where secondhand shops come in. The dresses are hardly even used – what are the chances she wore it more than once?
Know of the best local hot-spots for picking the used, hardcover books or most gorgeous, secondhand wedding dresses? Let us know in the comments section below!
Nancy Matson's blog, Stuff You Don't Want, tells you how to keep your unwanted items out of the landfill, item by item. She is currently reviewing thrift stores throughout Los Angeles.