Vintage Value: Secondhand Shopping Tips

vintage shopping

It can be intimidating to search for secondhand and vintage clothing with so many available options! Here are some tips to help you score fabulous finds at a fraction the cost of retail.

Tips For Exploring Secondhand Shopping

Who doesn’t want a fabulous wardrobe at a deeply discounted price? Plus, you’re decreasing your environmental footprint in the process! With the rising popularity of both online and storefront secondhand clothing stores, it’s easier than ever to get vintage clothing.

Vintage vs. Consignment Shopping

While both vintage and consignment shopping can refer to purchasing secondhand clothes, these terms have different connotations. Vintage items usually refer to things that are at least twenty years old, though in some cases it’s just ten years old. When you consign items, they’re usually no more than five years old. So it looks like you could just as easily have purchased these items new.

Your average thrift store will have a mixture of the two. These stores aren’t curated in the same way that specialized stores can be, so they’re usually significantly cheaper than a consignment or vintage boutique. Since people donate items to thrift stores, rather than resell them at consignment stores, thrift stores items can be really, really cheap! But it might take a lot of searching to find what you’re looking for.

vintage shopping
PC: @mymountaincityhouse

Vintage Finds Galore: Local Thrift Stores

If you like to go into a store with a specific idea of what you want, and then leave with that perfect item, you’re probably not a thrift store aficionado. But if you like a shopping treasure hunt and getting really cheap items for a dollar or so, they might be your favorite place!

Thrift stores are a great place to donate used items since you get a tax write-off for a favorite charity like the Salvation Army, Union Mission, or a local hospital.

Shopping Local Consignment Stores

Even though both sell secondhand clothes, there’s a huge difference between thrift and consignment stores. Consignment stores like Worth the Wait in Virginia Beach, have a carefully curated collection of clothes. They usually don’t have anything that’s older than a few years old and are really selective on the items they select. While those who donate to thrift stores get a tax write-off, consignors get a percentage of the profits when their clothes sell.

You will almost definitely pay a higher price for these clothes than you would from a thrift store or even online secondhand store, but the benefits of local consignment boutiques are pretty great, too. You can try things on in-person, so you know exactly what you’re getting. And even though you pay more than second-hand alternatives, it’s still a lot cheaper than paying full price!

Online Consignment Superstores ThredUp and The RealReal

Both of these companies offer seemingly endless consignment options of clothing and accessories! ThredUp is “the largest online consignment and thrift store” and accepts clothing from most brands. They’re still fairly selective about what they sell, and prices here can range from extremely inexpensive items to designer handbags for thousands of dollars. While you can get great deals, sometimes the purchased clothes aren’t quite right when you get them. Of course, you can return most anything here!

The RealReal only accepts consignment from the most exclusive brands. The prices offer discounted prices on these items, but all things considered, they’re still not cheap. They are, however, a great way to save money on high-quality items.

Vintage Finds at Estate Sales and Bazaars

It’s impossible to know the hidden gems at Estate Sales! Usually, they’re a great place to spend a Saturday as you scope out a new accessory for your house.  But they can often be hidden treasure troves of vintage clothing, handbags, or jewelry. Whether or not they’re in your size or style is another issue entirely. But it’s always fun to check them out!

This time of years is also a great time to look for local bazaars at churches or community centers. Be sure to go early for the best selection, or come at the end for the lowest prices!

ebay and Etsy Shopping

I don’t know what you can’t find on eBay— the only problem is, online places like eBay and Etsy can be so overwhelming! Where do you begin? Here are a few tips to get you started.

  • Before you buy- take your measurements. A size 14 from 1955 might be closer to a modern-day size 8 than 14 today. So you can’t use those sizes as a guide. Instead, take your measurements and compare with those sizes.
  • Check the return policy. Unless you’re absolutely sure that the item you’re purchasing is absolutely perfect, make sure you can send it back if things don’t work out.
  • Be open-minded– even if something isn’t quite perfect at first, it’s amazing what a little tailoring can do! You can score a custom-tailored piece worthy or any magazine cover at a fraction of retail.
  • Be specific in your search– the extra details might yield results more similar to what you really want.
vintage coat
fantastic vintage coat purchased from eBay

Facebook and Instagram Shopping

Many savvy shoppers turn to social media to find unique pieces. This technique can yield great results. First of all, if you’re part of a community, you can always ask if someone has a specific type of shirt, dress, or jacket you’re looking for. That way, you don’t have to wade through pages of eBay searches. Second, when you’re plugged into a group, it’s easier for you to resell your clothes, accessories, or jewelry you no longer need.

secondhand shopping
Modernize your vintage pieces (like the scarf and jacket) by combining them with more current items.

What Are Your Favorite Secondhand Shopping Secrets?

It’s always fun to score a fun vintage find, whether you’re looking for something fun and unique to wear to a rock festival, or just wanting to share responsible consumption habits with your daughter or son. You’ll turn heads whether you’re walking down the street or enjoying some nightlife. And there’s no better way to liven up an old pair of jeans and a T-shirt than with a fun vintage jewelry piece or a handbag!

So what are you waiting for? Enjoy some responsible secondhand shopping! And don’t forget to share your favorite tips with us on FamilyApp’s Instagram or Facebook pages or on FamilyApp.

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