Top Tips for Second-Hand Shopping

Posted on: March 5, 2015

Written By: Jen Gale

We spent a year Buying Nothing New, and I quickly discovered the delights of shopping in charity shops! My husband remains to be convinced that charity shop shopping is actually more fun than normal shopping-that thrill of finding some little gem; finding a bargain; thinking about how you can adapt something to make it totally unique to you-but I will wear him down eventually!

Buying things second-hand can save considerable amounts of money, often with very little compromise on quality-you sometimes just need to be a bit patient.
Here are some tips to find the best bargains!

  • Get to know your local charity shops, and pop in regularly. Charity shops can vary widely both in the quality of the stock they keep, and in the prices that they charge. We have one shop near us where all the clothes are 99p, but often the quality is not that great. If you are just looking for basics like t-shirts, then it’s not a problem, but if you are looking for something more special, like a dress for a night out, then it is worth looking in ‘higher end’ charity shops.

charity shop


  • Make a list of what you are looking for and keep it with you. That way, if you pop into a charity shop, you can consult your list to remind yourself of the things you need, and not get distracted by the things you don’t!
  • Keep an open mind-you might find something that isn’t exactly what you are looking for, but with a bit of alteration, you can make it what you want, and make it unique to you. Clothing can be dyed, or you can change the look of something totally just by changing the buttons! A lick of paint can transform a piece of wooden furniture from drab to funky, and even things like lampshades can be jazzed up.
  • When shopping for clothes, keep in mind what suits you, and what is already in your wardrobe. If bright green is not your colour, it won’t suddenly look great just because the dress is only £3!
  • Make sure you examine items carefully before buying them. Most charity shops are pretty good about being honest about the condition of items, but if buying from car boots and jumble sales, then buyer beware.
  • Second-hand shopping isn’t all about charity shops – flea markets, car boot sales, auction houses, jumble sales, vintage shops, and even dress agencies are all places to pick up pre-loved gems, for a fraction of the cost of new.

car boot


  • Online, the most popular site is obviously eBay. Use the search function on the left hand side of the page to narrow down your search, and make sure you tick the ‘Used’ box under condition. Have a look at when items are due to end-I tend to find that items that end in the middle of the day, during the week, often go for less, than those finishing at the weekend or in the evening.
  • Other sites online to keep an eye on include Preloved, and Gumtree. Oxfam have a great online shop where they showcase the best of the retro finds that come into their shops. You can even buy things second-hand on Amazon through their marketplace.

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