To buy or not to buy secondhand… that is the question! I don’t know about you, but the sticker shock of a lot of items brand new keeps my buying in check (most of the time). Thousands of dollars for a couch? Yikes! Two hundred dollars for a pair of sneakers?? No thank you. That’s why I love shopping around for good secondhand deals. However, not everything should be purchased secondhand. Let’s talk about some items that are best to buy new and some that you can save your hard-earned money on by buying used.
Best Secondhand Buys
Furniture: I personally love to find a good secondhand furniture piece. All the furniture in both of my kids’ rooms with the exception of the nursery rocker were purchased off Facebook Marketplace or gifted by friends. I would suggest that you avoid buying upholstered items from people you don’t know without examining first. There are also secondhand furniture stores in town that might help navigate the inspection process for you, so that you know an item is clean and smell-free.
Clothes: This is one of my absolute favorite things to buy secondhand. Almost every item I and my kids wear is secondhand. I have a whole list of favorite secondhand stores in another article if you want to check that out, with a range of price points. There are some exceptions to this suggestion, though. Please never buy underwear or female-presenting swimsuit bottoms secondhand, as those will be right up in your most personal bits after being up in someone else’s.
Toys: This is a great way to save money on items for your kiddos that they will only use for a short time and then outgrow. Most of my children’s Christmas and birthday presents are even used. My older son’s first Christmas, I scored a play kitchen on Facebook Marketplace for just $15, then supplemented with a few bins of new play food to make it special. About $30 invested and we have something that my kids play with to this day. I especially encourage this for large ticket items! The markup on kid items is SO HIGH.
Baby gear: Seriously, companies know new moms want all the best things for their sweet bundles of joy and that their raging hormones will make them pay astronomical prices for those things. Don’t fall for it. You can get a $200 activity seat secondhand for $40 and save the rest of that money for diapers or a college fund.
Worst secondhand buys
Shoes: Technically, physical and occupational therapists that I follow would recommend NOT to buy shoes secondhand. Someone else’s foot has already worn a specific pattern into the soles, so they won’t fit you the same way. This is especially true for kiddos. However, I am definitely still guilty of buying those $10 Frye boots I found at Goodwill, because who couldn’t resist a 95% discount?!
Swimwear: I want to reiterate separately that this is a hygiene issue. Please do not put something that has been up in someone else’s more personal areas against your own personal areas. You might as well add them to your list of sexual partners.
Car seats: Unless you know and trust the person you are getting a car seat from, please never get one secondhand. There are too many factors that can affect the safety and integrity of a car seat to roll the dice with your children’s lives. If you do get one secondhand from a reliable source, be sure to check the expiration date, ask about accidents, and get the manual.
Technology: Generally, technology deals secondhand are not that great. You are better off buying a refurbished model directly from a manufacturer or box store. The refurbished models usually come with a shorter version of the brand-new warranties.
There is of course a lot of grey area with shopping secondhand. How to get the items you bought off Facebook Marketplace? What payment methods are secure and acceptable? Is this a scam!? Use common sense when buying items off the internet, ask questions, meet in public locations, take a friend, and don’t be afraid to walk away from a deal if it isn’t what you expected. There are treasures to be found if you just take the time to look.