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How To Find What You Need Second Hand

Updated on July 7, 2008

Did you know that you can find just about anything that you need second hand? You might not want to buy underwear or toiletries second hand though. Although I have seen perfectly good, unopened toiletries of every kind at a much reduced price at several garage sales, so technically you can even get those second hand. I will pass on the underwear though. Everything else is fair game! But how? There are many, many ways you can find what you need or want and not buy it new.

I bet the first thing that comes to your mind is garage sales or yard sales. Yes these are great places to get what you need second hand. It is just that it takes a lot of time hunting down what you need. Wouldn't it be more cost effective to find what you want before getting in the car to go get it? Check Ebay, Craigslist and Freecycle frequently for exactly what you need. Ebay even offers the feature of sending you an email when the item you are looking for goes up for auction. This is especially helpful if you are looking for something rare or unusual.

If shopping for items on Ebay they will usually be delivered right to your door. Yes you pay a price, but for that kind of convenience it may be worth it. When shopping on Craigslist or Freecycle you will usually go pick up the item. This takes time and gas money, however if once you get there you don't like it then you don't have to buy it. With Ebay, once it has been delivered you typically can't return it. I can't say enough good things about Craigslist. I have sold many things on there successfully including a car and even bought our dog off of Craigslist. It is really a great way to shop second hand.

Another way to find what you need second hand is to put the word out. Tell everyone you know that you are interested in _______. You never know when someone has exactly that sitting in their garage or attic collecting dust. Or they may know someone that is selling what you want. Word of mouth is a great way to get what you need without having to purchase something new.

When you are out and about always keep your eyes open, especially on trash day. I am always amazed at what people put out with their trash. Here is a prime example of finding exactly what you need second hand, in an unusual way. We wanted to put a fence in our yard. We had decided on a split rail fence, but couldn't decide between a two rail split and a three rail split. I wanted a three rail split, but of course it was going to cost a couple of hundred dollars more than a two rail fence. My husband and I went back and forth for months discussing what type of fence to buy, assuming all the while that we would have to purchase a new fence.

Then one day my husband was driving home from work a way that he doesn't normally take and there in the yard of an old farm was a sign saying that a split rail fence was for sale. He wrote down the number and called. It was a three rail split fence, plenty for what we wanted and $600 less than purchasing a new one. They even had the equipment to remove the fence and bring it to our house. You just never know what you will find on the second hand market.

If you are looking for clothing, toys, books or furniture consignment stores might help you find what you need. I think they are more expensive than garage sales, however if you don't have time to shop a bunch of sales or are looking for something very specific this would be a good option, especially for dress clothes.

There are many benefits to purchasing items second hand. Not only are you saving money, you are saving Earth's natural resources as well. You are also preventing things from accumulating in a landfill somewhere when you reuse them. It really is a win-win situation for everyone. Next time you are looking for something to meet a need, seriously consider trying to find it second hand. Many times you can find something new with the tags still on it, being sold second hand because the owner never used it. It can't get any better than that!


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    • proudgrandpa profile image


      10 years ago from Charlotte, NC

      Your hub validates my thoughts on the hub I did several months ago, REDUCE+REUSE+RECYCLE.

      My son always looked well dressed conducting his chiors and orchestras during college and I don't think he knew there was any other way to buy than the Goodwill store.

      Last week I was invited, last minute to a country club event while I was traveling and all I had was Jeans. I stopped by the Goodwill store and $4.01 later I had a clean and presentable pair of dress pants. The best part of that is that the goodwill store employs and helps people who can use a boost. Ain't life amazing?

      Thanks for your hub. NEIL

    • Sally's Trove profile image


      10 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      Another good one, Jennifer! I agree with you and to undies. I'm OK with bedding, but never mattresses or boxsprings.

      One of the best kinds of thrift shops to frequent is one that is a part of a non-profit organization. Not only are the prices usually better, but you know that what you spend is going to a good cause. Our local thrift shop is a part of an organization that provides services to abused women and their children. If it weren't for this non-profit organization, women in our county would not have access to these services, since there is no publicly funded county agency to meet their needs.

    • trish1048 profile image


      10 years ago

      Hi Jennifer,

      As I love all old things, I almost always buy second hand. There are, as you mention, some things that I would never purchase used, such as mattresses, bedding, with the exception of quilts, and certainly not undergarments. It certainly is gratifying to find a great old cast iron skillet for pennies, or even a set of pots that have stood the test of time. It certainly beats paying a few hundred dollars on a brand new set.

      Thanks for sharing,


    • profile image

      Message board 

      10 years ago

      Good one. Thanks for sharing


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