Inside: Learn some of the benefits of buying used and the ten best things to buy second-hand.

When looking for a particular item to purchase, do you check for second-hand options?

I’m a big believer in shopping at second-hand stores. Not only do I love a great deal and the thrill of the hunt for the perfect piece, but there are additional benefits to shopping second-hand.

Buying used instead of new is a great way to save some cash. And it’s also a great way to prevent more items from going into a landfill. 

But many people hesitate to buy second-hand. And it’s true – there are some things you just don’t want to buy used.

However, there are plenty of items that are well worth investing in, even after they’ve had an owner – or several. 

And if you aren’t quite sure what you should be buying second-hand?

I’ve got you covered. 

best things to buy second-hand

Why Buy Second-Hand?

Here are just a few of the reasons to consider buying items second-hand.

It saves you money.

One of the most obvious reasons to buy second-hand is that it saves you money. With the price of just about everything going up, it’s become even more important to cut costs where you can.

There are so many ways to get things second-hand from your local thrift shops to online stores to using Facebook marketplace or OfferUp. This allows for a variety of options for almost anything you can imagine.

You may have the opportunity to get an even better deal when you’re buying directly from the seller. You can always offer less than their asking price and negotiate. Just make sure you do so in a respectful way so it’s a win-win for both of you.

It’s better for the environment.

Buying second-hand is more sustainable than continuing to purchase cheap mass-manufactured goods.

With the number of donations that thrift centers receive, it’s helpful to have more buyers for those items before they get recycled, trashed, or sent to a third-world country.

Buying secondhand is a great way to get more mileage out of items and keep them out of a landfill longer.

You can acquire unique items.

Another benefit to buying second-hand items is that you can get unique pieces. If you like having pieces that no one else does, buying used is a great way to achieve that.

If you feel like the quality of items has significantly decreased in recent years (i.e. Ikea furniture) then buying second-hand gives you the option to buy older things that are better quality.

You can customize or update the piece to further add to its uniqueness while appreciating the way things used to be made.

thrift shopping

The Best Things to Buy Second-Hand

Not sure what items are worth buying secondhand? You aren’t alone – but I’m here to help! From sweaters and strollers to tables and treadmills, here are some of the best things to buy second-hand.

I love finding ways to make do rather than buying new when possible. I’ve also included some of my favorite items I’ve purchased second-hand.

#1: Clothes

When it comes to the best things to buy second-hand, clothes are at the top of the list. 

Shopping for used clothes can feel a bit like a treasure hunt – you never know exactly what you’re going to find. But unlike seeking out an elusive treasure, you’re almost guaranteed to discover something great during your search. 

Whether you browse thrift store racks for fashionable finds, check out consignment shops for designer brands, or buy your used clothes online through sites like thredUP, you can usually find something without too much of a struggle.

In many cases, you can find lightly used – sometimes even unworn – items that cost a fraction of what you’d pay if you were buying new. 

And buying used clothes is more than a way to save a little cash. It’s also a big step to take toward living a more sustainable life.

By investing in pieces that have plenty of life left – instead of indulging in fast fashion or otherwise buying new – you’re reducing the amount of stuff that is sent to textile recyclers or a landfill.

My favorite second-hand find: A like-new down-filled winter coat that my daughter got a lot of great use of during the colder seasons.

#2: Accessories

Whether you’re looking for a new to you purse, belt, or jewelry statement piece, buying second-hand is a great way to go.

You can find unique or usual pieces to help express your style. Accessories are often in great condition as it tends to be a type of item some people have a lot of but don’t wear very often.

That should also give you pause as you consider if it’s something you really want to buy as you don’t want it to become clutter in your home either.

My favorite second-hand find: A barely used purse I found on Mercari for a tenth of what it would have cost new.

car for sale

#3: Cars

Cars are another smart second-hand purchase. A new car’s value drops dramatically almost as quickly as you can drive them off the lot.

And if you finance it, your new car comes with a hefty monthly payment for years to come. 

You can save a ton of money while still purchasing a quality vehicle by shopping for a used car. While this was definitely more difficult to do in the past couple of years with the prices of both new and used cars skyrocketing, prices have begun to come down as inventory has increased.

You can certainly find some lemons in the used car market, but a careful search can lead you to find exactly what you’re looking for – at a fraction of what you’d pay for the same vehicle new from the dealer.

You’ll want to do your research and ensure your used car is inspected by a trusted mechanic before you buy it. Consider purchasing a carfax report as well.

As long as you do your due diligence, you can get yourself a reliable car at a reduced price. 

My favorite second-hand find: It’s hard to pick just one in this category as I’ve purchased all of the vehicles I’ve owned this way. My Acura Integra was purchased directly from its owner and our current Toyota Sienna was purchased from Carmax. Both were great cars that have lasted a long time!

best things to buy second-hand

#4: Books

While books are something I stopped buying as much after simplifying our home, when I do buy them, I get them used.

Second-hand books are typically available at a great deal – a fraction of the price you’d pay for a new copy. And there’s generally nothing wrong with them.

The latest bestsellers, old classics, well-loved cookbooks – you can typically find all of these, and more, at your local second-hand bookstore.

If you’re dying to read a specific book but don’t have the patience to deal with the waitlist at your local library, chances are high that you can find what you’re looking for and grab a copy for yourself for only a few dollars. 

Other great spots to shop for used books include garage sales and virtual auction sites like eBay or Amazon marketplace. You can also keep your eyes peeled for local book sales; many cities will hold a big one once or twice a year where you can pick up a few new reads at an absolute steal. 

My favorite second-hand find: Last year we found a fiction book about horses that my daughter loved at a local thrift shop. It also happened to be half off that day. She ended up enjoying that one so much that we purchased the rest of the series on eBay.

baby clothes

#5: Baby Clothes & Gear

If you’re expecting a new addition or have a little one at home already, you know that there’s a lot of baby stuff you can acquire. While some of the baby gear isn’t necessary, there are certain items you’ll want to have.

From bibs and cribs to toys and clothes, it can get overwhelming – and expensive – fast. 

And while you might be tempted to buy a lot of the things brand new, there’s nothing wrong with buying used baby gear. In fact, in many cases, it makes a lot of sense.

Baby clothes

Take baby clothes, for instance. It’s tempting to stock up on new adorable outfits when you’re expecting, but you might want to reconsider splurging on never-worn stuff.

First of all, you’re likely to get some oh-so-cute baby clothes gifted to you because friends and family can’t seem to help themselves. Also, you don’t know exactly how big the baby will be when it’s born. Some babies completely skip that newborn size!

And when they’re young, babies grow so fast that in some cases, they can only wear a given outfit once before it no longer fits. Not to mention, they’re messy. Watching your little one ruin a brand-new outfit isn’t very fun – or a good use of your money. 

Baby gear

And it’s not just clothes. Toys, cribs, high chairs, diaper bags, and all kinds of baby gear can be bought second-hand. And, in many cases, can be resold or passed along to someone else in need once you’re done with them, too. 

Buy Nothing is often a great resource for this. Not only do you get these short-lived items second-hand but through this great community group, it’s also free!

Note: With any item, but baby gear especially, it is a good idea to check to see if the item you’re considering has been recalled for any potential safety issues.

My favorite second-hand find: When my kids were babies the popular baby carrier was the Ergo. We were able to get a gently used one at a deep discount through Facebook marketplace.

#6: Kids’ Clothes & Toys

Not only do babies grow out of things quickly but so do children. And if you have a kid who plays hard buying new clothes feels pretty painful as they wear them out or outgrow them quickly.

We’ve gotten most of my kids’ clothes second-hand and it’s worked great. We saved a lot of money and don’t feel as frustrated if something gets ruined.

In addition to clothes, toys, bikes, and board games can be great to get second-hand as well. Just check to make sure the items are in good working order and aren’t missing any pieces.

Local bike shops may offer a free safety check on a new-to-you bike to make sure it’s safe to ride.

My favorite second-hand find: My daughters have started learning how to budget and stretch their dollars with thrifting and have found brand-new clothing pieces at a local thrift store.

best things to buy second-hand

#7: Furniture

Let’s be honest – furniture isn’t cheap. Especially if you’re in the market for high-quality, solid wood shelving or an authentic leather couch.

That’s why shopping for second-hand furniture is so great. Not only are you often able to find well-made pieces in good condition, but you can get them at a reasonable price.

There are entire thrift stores dedicated to furniture, not to mention plenty to browse on Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist. Whether you’re looking for a single piece to finish a room or enough furniture to fill a house, you’re almost guaranteed to find what you need second-hand.

Some pieces may need more TLC than others so make sure to thoroughly look over any item you’re considering purchasing.

My favorite second-hand find: We’ve purchased quite a few pieces of used furniture, but my favorite one is my antique roll-top desk. I was fortunate enough to get it for free in my Buy Nothing group.

fitness equipment

#8: Exercise Equipment

Lots of people go through a phase where they’re focused on fitness. And then quickly abandon their routine, leaving their workout equipment to collect dust in a corner. 

Their loss can be your gain. You can find all kinds of used workout gear up for grabs – often, without much wear or tear at all.

From treadmills and exercise bikes to free weights and squat racks, kettlebells and yoga balls, you’re likely to find almost anything you’re looking for if you check your local buy-and-sell sites. 

You can save a lot of money (and help someone free up space) by purchasing their exercise equipment. Just make sure you’ll actually use it before you do so you don’t end up in the same situation as the seller!

Also, make sure to bring someone with you to help as these items are often very heavy to load.

My favorite second-hand find: none yet, but I did sell a Pilates machine and Total Gym this way!

best things to buy second-hand

#9: Home Decor & Housewares

While I’m not big on filling your home with home decor pieces, I do love a good statement piece. They can bring warmth and interest to a home.

Home decor is one of the best things to buy second-hand because you can get one-of-a-kind pieces that aren’t the mass-manufactured ones you’d find in the large home decor stores.

If you’re looking for a mirror or a one-of-a-kind piece of art, buying second-hand is a great idea. You’ll get a unique look at a fraction of the cost.

If you’re just starting out and need dishes or silverware for your home, they are one of the best things to buy second-hand. They cost significantly less and there are typically quite a few options to choose from.

My favorite second-hand find: a unique vase in my favorite color, dark teal.

#10: Electronics

The final one of the best things to buy second-hand that I wanted to mention is electronics. With the pace that technology advances, you can get electronics that are gently used for a deep discount.

Whether you’re looking at them in a thrift shop or directly from the seller, make sure you’re able to test the item first to make sure it works properly.

For more helpful tips on buying items secondhand, you can check out this post.

My favorite second-hand find: I have two for this one. First, is a laptop that I bought that was barely used for half of what it would retail. The second is our washer & dryer. We bought the set from a used appliance place and they’ve had no issues in the years we’ve owned them.

What do you think are some of the best things to buy second-hand? Leave a comment with some of your favorite finds!

While buying second-hand is great, you can still end up bringing home clutter if you aren’t shopping intentionally.

You still need to be careful with things that are cheap or free as you work to simplify and declutter your space. What you own ends up costing you, so be selective with what you bring into your home even if it is a great second-hand item.

Sign up on the form below to get weekly decluttering tips and inspiration sent straight to your inbox. You’ll also get the free 5 Areas to Declutter in 10 Minutes Checklist to help you get started decluttering today.

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  1. Thank you for this invaluable information. One thing that stood out to me is the purchasing.
    of books! I have a well-known author of fiction mysteries that I love, but his books are beyond what I care to spend. So, I go to my local thrift store, where my spouse and I find scores of his books and buy them for less than $3.00 apiece. I feel like I am getting away with something! (when finished, most go back to the thrift store, to avoid clutter and offer the buy to someone else). It is a win-win!

  2. Great tips, especially about buying kids’ clothes used. Babies and kids grow so fast it can be hard (and costly) to keep up. I’ve had good luck finding quality kids’ clothes at yard sales, thrift stores, and Facebook marketplace, especially items like formal dresses that are purchased for a special occasion and seldom worn. Also, Halloween costume are great to buy used or trade with a friend, because these can be pricey for single-use items.

      1. Great article. I’ve always been a thrifter and now I shop at our community VarageSale. It’s a bit addictive though.

    1. The best ever second-hand find~my aboriginal Canaan Dog, flown to me from Amman, Jordan! She was rescued from the streets of Amman before she was killed~a win in so many ways! I saw her face in a post on Facebook, and knew instantly that she was my “heart dog”. All of her fees were covered by her rescuers in Jordan, we only paid her freight fee when she arrived at JFK.
      Years of friendship, protection and love for $70.00~the best bargain ever!

    2. This is the best post out of all of them. Sorry. Thank you for adopting a pet and posting about it. 💟

  3. one thing to add is that when purchasing 2nd hand, you cannot be in a hurry. Also, if you see something you really like, GET IT! I cannot tell you how many times I’ve missed a great buy because I hesitated, and when I went back to get it, it was gone. It also seems as though my favorite 2nd hand items were purchased when I was just shopping for fun, and really didn’t go looking for anything in particular. Or as my husband often says, nothing was really needed.

    1. I just had surgery . Instead of spending a small fortune at a medical supply store I purchased a
      shower stool at Goodwill. we got it home and scrubbed it up.
      You can find crutches canes and other items at Good will at a fraction of the coat

    2. I agree. For me, the hunt is the best part of the process. Websites like Facebook Market Place, Poshmark, Thred Up, etc. offer numerous options. It allows me to take the time to decide. If the object is local, check it out before you purchase.

    3. I always say, if I’m meant to have it, it will be here next time… mostly, it’s not there next time, but I’ve saved a lot of money that way!

  4. the last time I’ve been to the goodwill has been a couple years ago due to there high price on everything since when do the goodwill think they sale brand new items to be so pricey no im good

    1. Mr. & Mrs. Goodwill each makes $450/yr. They don’t have to purchase inventory; it is all donated.

      I divorced Goodwill years ago.

      1. Pam,
        I can understand how you feel, but I still support Goodwill because of the jobs and training thet organization gives to the handicapped. There is a certain value in giving dignity to our fellow human beings. Just saying.–Anne

      2. do you know what all they fund? look up Family Nurse Partnership, awesome program. They have several alternative school programs, here in Howard Co Indiana it’s Excel center, they help with GED and getting into college, they help with interviewing skills, choosing careers, etc. And they have tons of other programs. I used to avoid as I felt they profited off donated items until I worked with low income and often young mothers now I am 10000% on board with them

      3. me too. The items are donated , no cost and I will either take my things to a thrift shop or to a homeless shelter .

    2. I have never understood Goodwill’s prices???? Used items, donated and they price them outrageously. Makes no sense whatever. People are there for deep bargains; might as well buy new. Habitat for Humanity is way better.

  5. I only consider a purchase if it is excellent quality and at least 75% off; timeless style and natural materials. At the mercy of others due to compromised health for more than the last 15 years, I still haven’t unpacked after my fourth move – or any of them. My belongings have been subjected to the definitions of clutter of various people. Many valuable and important things have gone missing while large empty jars or expired items packed. Even when paying people $20/hour people couldn’t really sort papers into the files provided or match pairs of shoes. It may take me another 10 years to organize my clutter but you can’t fix such incompetence.

  6. I really like shopping at church or charity-run thrift stores because the money made is going to a positive cause. I take sometimes chances by not trying some on. If it doesn’t fit, I donate it back. Same w decorative items for my house. I just donate it back when I’m tired of it. I look at it like a donation that I get a bonus from!

  7. I never donate or buy from Goodwill, per the way it’s run. Instead, I use Saint Vincent du Paul, and stores that support specific organizations.

  8. I love hitting the thrift stores, sometimes I find something, sometimes I don’t. That’s the fun and challenge of it!
    I’ve had some great finds lately, but probably my best and most useful was a brand new pair of Sorel Artek winter boots that I paid virtually nothing for. And as I live in northern British Columbia Canada, you can imagine how pleased I was.

  9. When our children were growing up we always bought our cars used–the grime and damage that occurs from normal family use didn’t matter so much. Now that we are empty nesters we finally have bought 2 vehicles new but will drive them until they give out completely–the van is already 20 years old!–Anne

  10. When I was in my 30’s I lived next door to a woman in her 60’s. Her Grandaughter was about 4 and I said how pretty her dresses were. The lady said she made them! I said it must be really expensive to buy all that material, buttons and zippers. She said not at all. She would buy pretty adult dresses from the Goodwill and wash them, then cut them up for the material and reuse the buttons and pin the pattern onto the material, and cut them out and sew them! Sometimes she would cut several patterns at once! They were beautiful and looked new and she could afford to make them when she got the material out of women’s dresses at the Goodwill! She was a cool Italian lady who made the best Spaghetti and sauce using the herbs she grew on her window sill!

  11. I bought an antique Hoosier kitchen cabinet years ago. After working as designed in my kitchen in house #1, it went on in subsequent houses to serve as a liquor cabinet, an attractive storage cabinet and for several recent years is my craft cabinet. It is a gorgeous golden natural wood with doors and drawers, a pullout enamel work space, and shelves inside. Antiques are not in favor so much lately so some wonderful pieces can be found at good prices. If you check doors, legs, latches, and drawers for proper functioning, you might be as happy with your finds as I am with mine all these years later

  12. I have a big house that I finally decluttered. I have more than enough clothes. Still, I frequent thrift stores and consignments and yard sales, hunting for small pieces of art glass to add to my collection. Sometimes there is an item if clothing — like a stunning $14 top— that I don’t need but can’t resist. I love cashmere sweaters, and have 5 of them I picked up for an average of $18 each. Now I have enough and talk myself of buying any more I come across. And I loathe Goodwill. Salvation Army thrift shops are much better. And quite a bit of my furniture comes from auctions or estate sales.

    1. My husband & I bought a manufactured home in an over 55 community near Clearwater. There was very little in the house when we bought it. Between Estate sales & thrift stores we have bought everything we need for our winter home. My favorite is the Lane Chest he bought for me for $40. As a teenager I always wanted one. My dreams came true. I store my clothes in it for the 6 months we are away. I like to cook. I have bought absolutely everything I need for kitchen secondhand. I like to cook & invite friends & bought a whole dinnerware set for $20. Can’t wait to set the table!!! My $10 Nutribullet is a favorite & our $20 Weber BBQ which is used most evening is fabulous. I try to be selective & only buy what I love & have a place for it. I know that when I want to declutter I can donate to the Thrift store. Having worked for 2 Charities my whole life I know that the money I spend is going to help someone as well as the buzz of finding a treasure.

  13. This week I went out thrifting with a very specific style of jeans and found a pair (in a slightly different wash than I was looking for) that I was getting ready to order for about $100 for 9.99, 8.49 with senior discount! My $3,000 leather sectional, gently used, for $400 on a different trip at a different shop. No, you won’t always find exactly what you want, but with a little flexibility and a willingness to shop around a bit and wait for something you like to come along you can find a lot of what you want for less.

  14. We have a Habitat For Humanity store in a town near ùs. They have great buys on quality used furniture, dishes, home decor and home improvement needs. Their profits go to building homes for low income families.

  15. I love thrift shopping; however, this is a warning so hopefully others will not make the same mistake. I bought an upholstered office chair at my local Good Will. Everything was fine until about 8 weeks later. I had the chair in my office not my bedroom. My son’s bedroom was next door. We discovered bed bugs in his room, in his bed, carpeting etc. Because bed bugs can be dormant for so long until they sense a potential host. To make a long story short. They had to heat treat my whole house. It was a $2000 lesson. Be careful with what you purchase and bring in your home!

  16. We are moving and no matter how much I love my stuff I must thin out the herd. As a fabriholic the thinning here has hurt the most. But I can tell you that some large cuts of upholstery weight fabics have been given to the Salvation Army and to Goodwill. I have to thin out my machines too and I am trying to find homes for a surger and a lightweight machine via the people I know. I just can bear to think of them being unappreciated in a thrift shop. I may end up consigning them because they have served me so well.

  17. I have driven Mercedes-Benz for years. I’m in a different situation now and want a used car. I need someone to assist me because I am definitely not a mechanic, but don’t want an unreliable piece of junk.

  18. I buy items under categories 1 through 4 and furniture. I have had a few poor experiences, but for the most part you can find clothing made with quality fabrics no longer used and great designer handbags. I am petite, so there are limited items for sale, but fabulous finds. My two pre-owned cars work like a charm. I highly recommend buying pre-owned and also donating items to your local thrift or church charity shop or women’s shelter. Few people know how much clothing is deposed of each year in dumps.

  19. Second hand shopping… you’re singing my song… some of my favorite buys…
    Furniture: Tufted headboard… it had never been used and was still the in plastic.. it has a tiny unnoticeable cut about 1/4” on it… original price sticker still on.. $450.. my price $25… purchased from one of my favorite church thrift stores over 10 years ago and still using it!
    Auto: 2014 Ford Expedition with 16k miles on it.. one previous owner.. we purchased it $5000 under blue book… how? It was a trade-in and after 6-weeks the dealer has to pay off the outstanding loan of the trade in vehicle. Once that happens, they’ve got to move it and they only want their money back out of it! I didn’t know all that, until we purchased this vehicle, which I’m still driving every day!
    Clothing: Lands End denim barn coat for $15. It was used but in great shape! Unfortunately, I left it somewhere on a trip… gosh I miss that coat!
    My last favorite thing that I love to buy second hand…
    Books! I actually, usually, find mine on eBay. There are tons of great used book sellers on eBay and the books often ship free, especially if the seller is a nonprofit like goodwill etc. It’s much easier to locate the book you want from the many sellers and you can comparison shop finding just the copy you want!
    Great post! Thanks for letting us share our favorites!

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