I cannot remember the last time bought new clothes. No, my memory isn’t shot and my wardrobe isn’t empty, I don’t buy new novels though it hasn’t stopped me from travelling to the centre of the Earth with Jules Verne or doing a little trainspotting with Irvine Welsh. I don’t own any new furniture but my butt is securely seated on one of the comfiest chairs it’s ever had the chance to come across. I am not a criminal and I am responsible for acquiring these things. Virtually everything I own is second hand. For the majority of my adult life I have lived this way and I’m going to share with you why.
First off, buying second hand doesn’t always mean buying second hand. The other day I was out shopping around some charity shops and came across two pairs of jeans and a skirt, still with the tags on. The skirt was from Miss Selfridge and the jeans were from Jane Norman. Both top labels and probably never worn! The same can be said for books. I’ve bought plenty of books out of second hand stores where there hasn’t been any sort of bend in the spine. These are the abandoned unread novels that I must adopt immediately!
Buying second hand almost always saves you money. Those jeans and that skirt I was telling you about; from the tags, I found that altogether they would have cost £102!!(£35 for each pair and £32 for the skirt) I got them for £8! A few months ago I also decided to buy myself a big flat screen television. After searching on Gumtree.com I was lucky enough to acquire a 40 inch Samsung TV for £140. The same TV can is still retailed at almost £300 new! Even if you are not concerned with saving money, just think about how many more things you could buy with the money you save. It also means you can update your wardrobe more often. After a day of shopping I like to go for coffee and cake. I can treat myself to both of these things without feeling guilty about how much money I’ve spent.
For hagglers among us, buying second hand is your chance to shine! Though I wouldn’t recommend it in charity shops (they need every penny); car boot sales and flea markets are definitely the place. Though I’m a little shy to do it myself, my Mum loves it and you feel a sense of connection she experiences with the other person through that transaction. It appears as though each party gets a kick out of the exchange. The teller will laugh at how daft he was to let something go for so cheap, while my Mum is happy all day knowing she has got that bargain. It’s not the kind of experience you can gain in a large department store, where the sales staff has no say over pricing, it’s more personal than that.
Most of the time buying second hand means supporting people who need it. I don’t directly donate to charities. I’ve never done a fun run or a sponsored anything. I don’t buy generic nolvadex (tamoxifen) stop and sign up for monthly direct debits asked of us by charity street teams. Giving to one charity would be prioritizing it over another and I don’t have the cash to give that generously to them all. When I shop however, I get a chance to give to charity almost at random. I always find things I like but they aren’t always in the same charity shops, so every time I give, it’s for a different but equally worthy cause. The same can be applied to car boot sales. You may just be helping a seller who is looking to earn extra cash for a holiday or for their kids.
The stuff you find second hand is usually more unique. It’s only November but for most shops that now means Christmas. The tinsel and fairy lights sneaked into the shop windows and my tight budget was enough to push me into purchasing presents early. There always seems to be that family member or friend who is extremely difficult to shop for. In my case it’s my brother. He is a hoarder and likes all things peculiar. Going to a high street store for his present is a no go. So you would not believe how happy I was when I managed to find a collectible of his in a second hand shop. Also, after doing a quick check online, I found I made a saving of £7(more coffee and cake for me). The main thing I buy second hand is dresses. I love them all. People always comment on how unusual the dresses are and how lovely I look. If I didn’t get these second hand I’d probably only be able to afford less than half and I would look the same as every other woman following the latest trends. There isn’t anything wrong with it, but it’s not my style.
Buying second hand is environmentally friendly. Whether it’s a big thing, like buying a second (third, maybe fourth) hand car or a used pair of boots it’s beneficial to the world around you. With Christmas coming up I dread to think of the amount of unwanted presents bought for people that will never get used. When you shop second hand, these are generally the items that end up there. Buying into this industry gives these unwanted presents a home. The comfy chair I mentioned before is part of a settee set that has plenty of life. The woman who I got it from was going to chuck it if she couldn’t make a sale. Opting for this couch means I’ve saved beautiful furniture from being flung out before it’s time.
With the exception of a few things (food, drink, toiletries, underwear etc.) there is very little that cannot be bought (and sold) second hand. Whether it’s to save money, give something back to a needy cause, find something a little unusual or just have money over for that coffee and cake I mentioned(and am now craving) give it a try. I can say that I very seldom buy anything new and I am richer for it in many different ways.