In Life, Money, Shop Quality Series, Shopping, Style

Why I love going thrift and consignment shopping for secondhand items

I’ve only bought secondhand clothes or electronics, and I’m finding it to be a better deal than I had originally expected.

I mean, I knew all of the reasons why I love secondhand clothes, but it wasn’t until I started spending my money and seeing the results, that I realized how awesome it really is.

SOMEONE ELSE ALREADY PAID THE BULK OF THE RETAIL PRICE FOR YOU

As someone who has sold a lot of clothes (50% – 75%) of my wardrobe, the sunk cost in my clothes that I have never recovered has to definitely be into the thousands of dollars.

As someone who is now buying a lot of secondhand clothes, I’m starting to see that buying something like a $5 sweater that someone originally paid $100 – $150 for, is a deal that just can’t be beat.

YOU CAN BUY NICER THINGS FOR THE SAME PRICE AS SOMETHING CHEAPER AT RETAIL

Ever been to a slightly mid-priced mainstream store like Jacob, Le Chateau, Smart Set or Dynamite?

Their clothes are fairly cheap for the design and quality, but I was recently in the store the other day and saw a Perfecto-style jacket in a tweed at Jacob:

Jacob-Perfecto-Tweed-Biker-Style-Jacket

Originally priced at $129.99, marked down to $59.99.

It’s a nice jacket, I even considered buying the XS at $59.99 plus 13% tax, until I realized 3 things:

  1. I already have a light grey jacket and a tweed grey one
  2. I already own at least 3 Perfecto-style jackets now
  3. $60 is a lot of money for something that to me, is now worth about $30 as resale value

How did I get to the $30 value?


Because I found a similar Perfecto jacket in a cotton style for $30 on consignment from Silence & Noise (Anthropologie/Urban Outfitters brand which is more expensive than Jacob):

Urban-Outfitters-Silence-and-Noise-Freeway-Moto-Grey-Jacket-Side

I have plenty of other examples:

  • Stuart Weitzman boots for $150, when they originally retail for $495!
  • Hermes cashmere and silk wrap for $200, when they retail for $2000!
  • Manolo Blahnik heels for $60 when they retail at $600!

You can certainly buy really nice items at retail for $150 – $200, but it wouldn’t be of the same quality and cut of (SOME) designer pieces on consignment.

Not all designer pieces are great.

I think some silk shirts I’ve felt with a $400 price tag feel cheaper than a $25 shirt from Uniqlo or H&M, but this is the same for any price point — cheap, mid-priced, expensive, or outrageous.

The point is that you have a better chance of finding higher quality items for the same price-point as a mid-priced item, if you just buy it used.


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Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

I got out of $60,000 of debt in 18 months using TheBudgetingTool.com. Since then, I have worked 50% of my career (taking 1-2 year breaks), and quadrupled my income within 2 years of graduating, going from $65K to $260K (savings rate = 85%). I could retire today if I wanted, but love my work-life balance as a freelancing consultant in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I also post daily on Instagram @saverspender.

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16 Comments

  1. L
    Lila

    I worked at JCPenney as a seasonal worker during the holiday season one year and they had clothes that went on the sale rack for $10 and under. We have another store in the mid-west called Shopko that will have amazing sales like a $40 sweater will go on sale for $7. So I just go to those sales.

    However I do love shopping at Goodwill for books. Books are definitely high on my priority list. A $20 dollar book on sale for $1.99 or a $15 book on sale for .99. That is just awesome. I really geek out over books as I love to read. I’d rather spend my money on books. 😉

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      I wish I preferred books over clothes. I think I love them equally but clothes edge them out because I can get them from the library…

      Reply
  2. Michelle

    I very rarely buy new now because I find so many fantastic items at Magical Goodwill, that it doesn’t even make sense that I would buy anything new now…and I just love what I have in my wardrobe so I don’t need to shop that much anymore in general.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      I very rarely keep anything I buy new. I may try on a lot of things but I’m picky.

      Reply
  3. NZ Muse

    I basically do most of my shopping at a place called Recycle Boutique. Love love love it. Quality stuff for less, it’s not wasteful, and you can find unique stuff. It’s a bit of work but it’s worth it. Just picked up a bunch of things that ticked off maybe a third to half of my shopping list.

    Annoyingly, nowhere seems to be selling nice basic cardigans at the moment. You’d think all the chain stores would have them! But no. (And cardigans are one of those things it’s hard to find secondhand)

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Basic cardigans are very hard to find. I have yet to find a good source.

      Reply
  4. Tania

    So true! The majority of the denim in my closet now was bought at resale via PoshMark or LikeTwice (I wear jeans to work) and retail for on average $200. I paid nowhere near that and love all my jeans. I also have a black Chanel jacket from consignment (I used my sale credits to buy), Frye short cowboy boots and vintage never used black & white Ferragamo loafers from Poshmark. Clothes now are also not made as well as even ten years ago so retail price is no longer a sign of quality unfortunately. I always love your finds that you’ve shared. I’m not trendy, more classic casual and you aren’t trendy either so we can always find stuff I’m sure.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      So you like those sites? I have to get on them to see what I could score… I’m also more classic casual but I like very few trends. Takes me a while to get on board.

      Reply
      1. Tania

        @save. spend. splurge.: I wear quite a few boyfriend and skinnies so it’s quite easy for me to buy jeans (I’m also familiar with certain brands and styles). If it’s a brand I’m not familiar with I ask for waist, hip, front rise, back rise and inseam measurements, also content and I can usually figure out if it will fit. I have been losing weight (lost 30 of 50 that was gained when I moved to Maui 4 years ago) so it’s been helpful to me to keep me stocked as I need smaller sizes and then unload my larger sizes that no longer fit. I do believe however once I get to the point of a minimalist wardrobe, a very small basic capsule (my goal), I probably won’t bother with these sites anymore. My end plan is to have a capsule that I revamp maybe twice a year and not shop the rest of the time. If I’m only owning say a few pair of jeans and perfect LBD’s, I would rather try on many things and select the perfect item brand new. But consignment and thrift browse occasionally as an eclectic vintage piece can elevate those basics up a notch. Buuuut, I am already in the habit of searching for a new or barely used item I’ve seen and tried in a store first before I buy it at retail so I may still do that, we’ll see.

        Reply
        1. save. spend. splurge.

          Interesting. I’m going to give them a browse today. Thanks for the mini review!

          Reply
  5. Midori

    I don’t have good consignment stores near me… so I can’t take advantage of that… 🙁

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      I shop online too 🙂

      Reply
  6. Taylor Lee @ Engineer Cents

    I love buying clothes second hand! Cheaper and better for the environment, what’s there not to like?

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      No more cheap crap either as quality could be better too

      Reply
  7. Pickled Fish

    I guess there are no nice thrift shops around my area. I tried to shop thrift stores but either I do not have any patience to browse through the clothes in search of treasurer or the inventory in our stores sucks. I never had any luck.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Online? If you know your size it can help

      Reply

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