With secondhand stores charging exorbitant prices lately, it’s hard to know when to buy new and when to buy secondhand. We’re all doing our bit to save the environment and recycle and reuse as much as possible but sometimes you can buy brand new for much cheaper.
We were so disappointed on the weekend just gone. We have visited our local Council’s shop attached to the tip (refuse station) for quite a few years now and have always picked up exactly what we were looking for, plus some, on many occasions. My husband has always gone there first when he’s needed building materials, windows, doors, tiles and other supplies for the house. I picked up so many things for our wedding like old LP records for placemats, drinking glasses, etc. We’ve bought birdcages, skateboards, surfboards, you name it. All for next to nothing.
You see, the process used to be, you’d select your purchases. You’d find one of the employees to work out the costs and they’d say something like “how’s $10 for everything sound?” and that was it. It is, after all, stuff that is being thrown away by residents within our Council. They are not a charity and we pay our Council rates for the privilege of being able to throw away our rubbish, which we hope, is being appropriately recycled. If they find something that can be resold, well that’s great. We’d grab the ticket the employee issued us up to the counter, pay for it and go home.
Now, everything is labelled with a price, there seems to be more employees there than what there used to be and we waited over 30 minutes in a queue that made it’s way like a snake through the shop, blocking aisles so you couldn’t get to see some of the things for sale and 2 ladies at a checkout who took their sweet time going through every single item identifying if it was a homeware, hardware etc. It’s not freakin’ KMart! Boy oh boy. Were we mad. We just made the decision to never go there again, which is a shame because it was a great place to pick up what you needed while recycling and saving the environment, all for a price which was affordable.
My husband picked up a plastic toolbox which he thought would be good for nails and screws and he noticed there wasn’t a price on it. He asked one of the workers how much and his response was “if it hasn’t got a price on it, we can’t sell it”. Really? Well, what is it doing out then for purchase AND why not put a price on it? There’s an idea. Oh, boy. I’m still reeling from the whole experience. The guy never got back to him with a price so my husband took it to the counter anyway and he explained what happened to the ladies at the checkout. He explained there was one similar next to it for $5. They argued with him saying “oh, it’d be worth a lot more than $5” so we left it. We saw the exact same thing at the local KMart, brand new for $7. And that’s when we realised that buying secondhand just isn’t worth it anymore, unfortunately.
Sourcing Products for Free
First and foremost, we’ll always look on Freecycle, Gumtree (Craigslist equivalent) or online garage sale for free products. We’ve also got so many things for free this way like building materials and things for the home. If we don’t have any luck there, we’ll search for secondhand with a price.
I recently picked up 4 huge trash bags of boy’s clothing in sizes 12, 14 and 16 for my son to grown into for FREE! Some are a little faded and good for around the house but there were some nice jackets, jumpers and dress clothes in that lot. I know I definitely saved myself some money on that find.
You really have to do your homework and know what the price of the goods are brand new. You also have to take into account the location of the secondhand goods and if it’s going to be worth your while to drive there and the cost of the fuel. A quick Google search of the product you’re wanting to buy secondhand will give you an idea of what they’re selling for brand new.
If it’s an antique or collectible, you can also check ebay, Etsy or Google search for prices to compare it to.
Check that the item is in good working condition. If it’s an older electrical appliance, for example, and the price isn’t much cheaper than new, than it might be worth buying it new because you might get more use out of it. We all know this isn’t necessarily so as brand new items can break down or stop working just as quick but most stores offer a guarantee or replacement.
I still like looking for clothing in secondhand shops. It’s all made so cheaply now and doesn’t last too long. I’d rather much spend $10 on a well made, brand name piece rather than buying it new, for obvious reasons. One of my most recent secondhand purchases was a Ralph Lauren denim skirt for $7.
Buying Brand New
If all else fails, searching to get products for free or secondhand then the only other option really is brand new. There are so many discount outlet stores now that have ‘scratch and dent’ sales on say electrical appliances. If you’re looking for hardware, the major chain hardware outlets have such big buying power that you’ll be able to get what you’re looking for at a pretty good price anyway.
Same goes for homewares. I’m still not a huge fan of the big chain discount supermarkets but they’ve been coming in handy lately for products I’ve been looking for because of that main reason. The secondhand stores just don’t have what I’m looking for or the prices are so high, it’s better to buy it new.
When we were at the tip shop, I also saw a nice, small cane laundry hamper which would’ve been nice for my son’s or daughter’s bedroom. It had a lid and a plain fabric liner but being in a tip shop, of course it was dirty. I would’ve give it a good scrub when I took it home but the tip shop had $15 on it! What? You can buy them brand new for less than that!
Remember, just know your prices. Hold off on making impulse purchases until you’ve done your research and compared prices on new versus secondhand and hold off until you really need it. Check your local areas for free or giveaway resources. You might just find what you’re looking for there too. Just don’t give in to these corporate organisations who are just looking at making a quick buck. Yes, charity organisations are okay. Even though they have administration costs to pay for, most of their employees are volunteers and they provide a great service back to the community for those people in need.
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