The Secondhand Snob

Imaginarium Train Table with all accessories–$19.99 at Goodwill

I wish more people, when they want a new book, toy, piece of furniture, or item of clothing would make their local secondhand store their first stop.  Not Walmart.  Not Target.  Not the mall.   But about half the time, when I suggest it to friends, the response is a wrinkled nose and an expression of distaste. 

Why the snobbery?  One friend explained that she doesn’t have the time or energy to sift through the racks at Goodwill to find the right fit and style, and that it’s much easier to go into a store where she knows the quality and fit and pull something off the rack and go right to the cash register.  Another friend said she dislikes the smell that is often prevalent in thrift stores–like “grandma’s attic.”  It is true that secondhand shopping can be a hunt, but I now think of it as a treasure hunt.  That smell in the stores?  It washes out of fabrics.  If you are avoiding shopping secondhand, you are needlessly throwing away money.  I know–I’ve been that person.

I have already admitted in a previous post that I didn’t used to shop at Goodwill and Salvation Army.  It took my husband demanding that I check out the selection in a few stores before I realized people donate nice stuff.  Really nice stuff.  Think about it–haven’t you ever donated something that was quite expensive when you bought it?  The people that shop secondhand aren’t necessarily there because they are poor, just smart!  It takes patience; you may not find what you’re looking for the first time you go, but if you stop in from time to time, the inventory changes constantly and you will be rewarded.  For example, I wanted a backyard playhouse for the girls for months.  I watched Craigslist like a hawk to no avail.  Finally, my patience was rewarded when I found a playhouse by the Once Upon a Child dumpster!  It wasn’t “new enough” to be sold in their store, but it was free and my kids love it.

Now, I shop at secondhand and thrift stores all the time.  The vast majority of our clothes and toys were previously owned, and although there was a time in my life that might have embarrassed me, now I’m proud of it.  I smile when people talk about the “amazing deals” they got at a store sale because my standard for an “amazing deal” has changed drastically over the last few years.

I don’t currently work outside the home, and I feel it is one of my responsibilities to be a good steward of our family finances.  I’ve discovered it is possible to have beautiful clothes and wonderful toys and books without spending an arm and a leg.  I hope the next time you need something, be it a “new” set of dishes or a “new” purse, you’ll check a secondhand store first.

Loving Family Dollhouse with Furniture–$14 at Goodwill

3 Responses to “The Secondhand Snob”

  1. Kee says:

    Thanks for finding all the cool stuff for your girls . . . and eventually Brynn. 🙂

  2. I am always amazed at what you find in the thrift stores, and also love it when you pass it on, or just tell me to go look. I also agree it is like a treasure hunt. Happy Thrifting

  3. Alicia says:

    I love the Goodwill!!! I get clothes for the kids, toys, books, and movies all the time. I can’t justify buying brand new clothes for my 3 year old to go camping and play outside in. She can ruin a pair of pants within ten minutes of having them on! I also use craigslist and yard sales. Hit a yard sale last year and scored 10 pairs of name brand jeans for the kids plus a few other items and it cost me $5! Thirfting is the way to go!!!

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