The loophole in my plan; advantages of buying used goods

I haven’t mentioned it until now, but I left myself a gaping loophole in creating this January challenge.  Notice that I haven’t banned myself from purchasing anything for the entire month (aside from food, that is).  I’ve just banned myself from purchasing anything new.  This leaves the entire market of used goods still in play.  Granted, January is an odd time to take upon this challenge: not only am I missing out on after-Christmas sales, but garage sale season is in summer.  Still, given the root causes that I am attempting to address it seemed a fair tradeoff.  And to be honest, I really don’t need anything that is on sale in the stores.  I don’t anticipate a mad rush to the mall in February to make up for lost time, so this truly is a recalibration instead of mere delay tactics.

To be honest, the used goods loophole was more applicable the last time I took up this challenge.  Two years ago I was living at home and a mere 10 minute walk from one of my favorite thrift shops.  Call me weak, but I left myself a bit of a loophole, just in case.  Even then I didn’t go crazy buying used, and certainly spent less that month than normal.

Fast forward to 2009.  Even though I’ve lived here for four months now I’ve only checked out one thrift shop and it isn’t terribly convenient from where I live, so I do not anticipate using the loophole very much this time around.  Still, I thought I’d take some time to plug one of my favorite sources of clothing, furniture, household goods, books and crafting supplies.

Otherwise referred to as “thrifting,” tapping into the used market offers a number of advantages.

1)    Used goods are almost always cheaper than retail.
2)    Vintage goods are better constructed and made of higher quality materials.  Furniture, clothing and toys used to be built to last.  These days companies expect consumers to tire of their products in a season or two, and it shows in the manufacturing quality.
3)    Higher quality goods are available at lower prices than their discount store counterparts.  One of my favorite sweaters is a black v-neck 100% Italian merino wool sweater that I thrifted for $5.  No matter how great the sale, I’ll never be able to find the same quality sweater at that price at Walmart or Target.
4)    It is eco-friendly.  We rarely use things all the way through before we get rid of them, which means that perfectly good items are sent to the landfill all the time.  Why not rescue our landfills by giving items a second home?
5)    If you have a favorite brand, style, or consumer good that has been discontinued, you can still find it on the used market.  Hate low-rise or skinny jeans?  Since thrifted goods tend to lag fashion trends, you can still find high-waisted (or reasonably-waisted) jeans if you know where to look.
6)    You never know when you’ll stumble upon something really unique.  Garage sales and thrift shops are filled with all sorts of eclectic, quirky, offbeat finds.
7)    Mistakes come cheap.  We rarely nail our purchases 100% of the time, but the learning curve is less expensive with used goods.  Maybe you’re not a cardigan person or the coffee table just doesn’t work with your living room.  Used provides a low-stakes test run.
8)    For those who love the thrill of a bargain, there’s no better place to find them!
9)    How well an item looks at a garage sale or in the thrift store provides clues to its’ durability.

Of course, used goods are not panacea.  Buying used does have some disadvantages, including:

1)    Most finds present a one-off opportunity.  That means there isn’t the same range of color and size options that are available at retail.
2)    Low prices increase the temptation to come home with more than you need.
3)    Due to variable selection it can take longer to find what you’re looking for.
4)    Often you’ll have to wade through a lot of junk to find a few treasures, so if you’re in a hurry or dislike browsing, it may not be the approach for you.
5)    Some people feel a stigma attached with buying used.  That’s silly since other people can’t tell anyways.  After all, other people tried on those shoes you decided to buy.

Even with all these disadvantages, thrifting remains an excellent source of inexpensive, high quality, one-of-a-kind goods.  And there are ways to work around these advantages, so stay tuned!

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4 Responses to “The loophole in my plan; advantages of buying used goods”

  1. Very Evolved Says:

    You forgot the best thing about thrifting – it great fun! It reminds me of when I was a kid searching for buried treasure in our yard.
    Unlike my front yard though, you might actually find an awesome item.

    Patrick
    veryevolved.com

  2. ayearofgames Says:

    Of course! Great point. I got too caught up in thinking about all the financially-related advantages of thrifting I forgot to mention the fun part. I’m a relatively recent thrifting convert and I have to say, I had no idea how much I would enjoy it until I started. May more people discover the joys!

  3. Very Evolved Says:

    Thanks for the insightful comment back on my site BTW. I’ve replied and I hope it helps answer your questions.

    Stay thrifty!

    Patrick

  4. Liara Covert Says:

    Love how you encourage people to treat all life experience as an adventure. People develop interests in auction-going for similar reasons as those you describe about thrifty clothes shopping. Great to hear you have visited Dreambuilders Australia. We appreciate your comments!

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