Shopping Second-hand Top Tips: Five Do’s and Don’ts for 2024 So You Can Master the Art of Shopping Preloved Clothing and Homeware

Shopping Second-hand Top Tips: Five Do’s and Don’ts for 2024 So You Can Master the Art of Shopping Preloved Clothing and Homeware

Are you wanting to save money, reduce your impact on the environment and find more unique pieces? If the answer is yes, then shopping second-hand is definitely for you. If the answer is no, we’ll…you’re missing out.

The problem lies with taking the first plunge in shopping second-hand because let’s face it, shopping second-hand online or in-store isn’t the same as shopping from a retailer you have used for years and years. It should be approached differently, but this isn’t a bad thing.

Shopping second-hand clothing and homeware can be a daunting task, especially when you are new to it. Maybe you want to dabble in shopping second-hand fashion or second-hand homeware. Whatever it may be, there is always a greater risk that it might not go as planned, compared to when you are shopping for something brand new, direct from a retailer.

This dos and don’ts list is designed to guide you through your first experiences of shopping preloved fashion and homeware.

Why should we shop second-hand?

The Environment

When you shop second-hand clothing and homeware you are reducing your impact on the environment because your purchase is prevent that item going to landfill.

Take second-hand clothing as an example, Depop made it very clear back in 2022 when they explained that by extending a clothing item’s life by just 9 months it can reduce its carbon, water and waste footprint by up to 30%.

When it comes to homewares, Hammonds UK, a fitted wardrobe and furniture retailer based in Leicestershire, found that on average each person throws away 12 homeware items a year. This adds up to 69.9 million items a year across the UK. 

Thankfully 46% of Brit’s that Hammond’s surveyed said that they donate their unwanted homeware items. This is music to our ears because this means that these unwanted items are available for a new owner, therefore avoiding landfill.


Current styles for less money

There is definitely a stigma surrounding second-hand shopping, that you can only find fuddy duddy old styles in clothing and homeware. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Through online marketplaces such as Vinted, online second-hand retailers like Sunshine Thrift and even in your local charity shop you will find in style fashion and homeware at incredibly reduced prices.

Admittedly, when using online marketplaces and charity shops you may need to do some digging to find the brands and item you are looking for. We recommend finding an online-second-hand retailer which specialises in the brands or items you are looking for.

The real, tangible benefits of shopping second-hand fashion and homeware is evident in how much money you will save. Here are three example we have found to show you the level of savings you could enjoy.


How much can you save?

This & Other Stories Blue denim belted shacket has an RRP of £80.00. Forget paying £80.00, you can buy this shacket, preloved, from Oxfam’s online store for £32.00. That is a saving of 60%!

& other stories denim jacket on a manequin 

Oxfam online

Now onto the online marketplaces

Vinted is known for its super low prices, because it is a marketplace, people can sell what they like for any price. It is up to you to determine if it’s a good deal or not, but we will come onto that later on.

This beautiful House of Sunny Good Vibrations Abstract-Pattern Stretch-Knit Midi Dress has an RRP of £100. We found it being sold, preloved, on Vinted for only £15.00. We nearly snapped it up ourselves, the deal was that good! That’s an unbelievable saving of 85%.

House of sunny cami knitted midi dress

House of Sunny - Endource

But shopping on online marketplaces and in charity shops can mean there is a lot of scrolling and sifting through items which are either not your size or not your style. Finding a specialist second-hand retailer, whether that be online or in-store, can help eliminate this.

The savings aren’t just for clothes, you can save on homeware too. 

This Vintage Rattan Letter Rack has an RRP of £79.00 and Sunshine Thrift are selling it for £21.99. That is a huge 79% off!

sunshine thrift wicker rattan letter rack 

Sunshine Thrift

Discover Sunshine Thrift’s biggest savings


What to do when shopping second-han

1. Do what is best for you

The first and most important thing when shopping second-hand is to not be influenced by anyone else or anything you see online. The items which you choose to buy when shopping second-hand is purely down to you. You can choose to shop fast fashion or second-hand designer clothes. Whichever you choose, you are making a positive impact on the environment by extending the life of an item and you are saving money.


 2. Do a mini arm workout

When shopping for second-hand finds at charity shops and car boot sales, there can be a lot of sifting through rails and boxes. Be prepared for your arms to ache, but it will be worth the pain we promise. No pain no gain!


 3. Do understand the pricing

It can be easy to assume that every item being sold as second-hand is a lot cheaper than it’s original selling price, because surely people don’t sell second-hand items for more than their original price? Unfortunately, there is no rule or obligation stopping people, retailers and online marketplaces from doing this. But fear not, you won’t fall victim to this scam. We’ve got some handy tips to help you avoid paying over the odds for second-hand goods.

 Firstly, google lens is your new best fiend. Download the google search app on your phone.Click the image search button and you can get a quick image of the item you are eyeing up and then google will show you images or items for sale that are either the same or very similar.

screenshot of google image search
screenshot of google image search

You can then get an idea for its original value or how much it is being sold elsewhere. You can also do this with screenshots in case you are shopping second-hand online.

Our next tip is to remember what you know about the retailers you have frequently shopped with in the past. If you are Zara’s number one fan, you will have a good idea of what the typically selling price would be for a particular item. If you see a Zara dress for sale in the charity shop and it is being sold for £20 but you know that a dress like that would normally be brand new at £20, then you’re most likely not getting a good deal. 

Find an online second-hand retailer who does the work for you. Sunshine Thrift provides you with an RRP for each item, wherever possible. This way you know straight away how much of a saving you are making.


 4. Do make a day of it

It is not uncommon to find a cluster of charity shops and discount stores in a town centre or retail park so make a day of it! 

  • Get your bestie involved
  • Head for some brunch first
  • Hit the charity shops and find some unbelievable bargains
  • Get a mid-afternoon snack and a pick me up coffee
  • Finish off the last of the charity shops and discount stores
  • Head home to admire your purchases


5. Do get to know the best places

Shopping second-hand is all about trial and error. Overtime you will find certain methods and outlets to be more fruitful than others. Perhaps you find shopping online more in line with your shopping habits, so you get all of your second-hand buys from marketplaces and online retailers. Or maybe you have huge success each time you go into the charity shop and you prefer to see and feel each item before you buy it.


What not to do when shopping second-hand

1. Don’t let others tell you how to spend your money

Everyone has got an opinion on how and where people should shop more sustainably. But remember, it is your money to spend. If you choose to spend your money on an £80 hand reared sheep’s wool jacket with buttons made from recycled windscreens, then that is just as fine as spending £6 on a preloved Boohoo dress. Your impact, big or small, is still a positive step towards reducing your impact on the environment.


 2. Don’t believe a deal that’s too good to be true because it probably is

Have you spotted a Prada shirt in your local Oxfam for £4.50 and it normally retailers at £750? Whilst this can happen, it is very unlikely, and the deal is probably too good to be true. Whenever shopping second-hand designer clothing, we strongly advise you have a basic knowledge of how to authenticate an item.


3. Don’t buy something just because it's cheap

Don’t buy it because it’s cheap, buy it because you love it. Buying something purely because of the low price negates the environmental benefits of shopping second-hand because you may never wear or use the item.

Buying something for such little cost can also make it easier to get rid of and then we find ourselves back at square one with items bought needlessly and looking for a new home.


4. Don’t buy anything without checking it's condition first

This is a biggie. When shopping second-hand clothing and homeware instore, you need to thoroughly inspect the item before buying it. Even if the item has its original tags or packaging, we strongly recommend that you check the item in full for any damages or extensive signs of wear or use. After all you are looking to buy something new for your home or wardrobe, not looking for more work. 

Checking your item is in the correct condition is made much more difficult when shopping online. Sellers on online marketplaces can disguise or fail to declare any faults with the item. 

We strongly recommend understanding the return policy and what your rights to a return are before making a purchase on an online marketplace. Be aware, returns policies vary across the different online marketplaces.

When it comes to shopping with online second-hand stores, they should detail any faults with the item in the product description. If they don’t, we advise getting in touch with them prior to purchasing and if they are really vague or are unwilling to assure you the item is in the condition it is listed as, avoid, and take your business elsewhere.

You should also check the store’s return policy before making any purchases.


 5. Don’t assume all second-hand shops are the same

Each charity shop or second-hand store is different, even the charity shop chains are different branch to brand.

Take this second-hand store in Liverpool, it is set up like a boutique.

 inside of a charity shop in liverpool

St Joseph's Hospice Aigburth Road, Google Maps

Another branch in Liverpool looks like a regular charity shop. 

charity shop in liverpool

St Joseph's Hospice Allerton Road, Google Maps

The independently owned charity shops and second-hand stores are another ball game all together and this is usually where you find the real hidden gems. Whilst you may have little success in one charity shop, another one down the road might become your new favourite place to shop.

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