Buying Clothes from Second Hand Shops..Is it worth it?

Do you shop at Thrift Stores? Many of these second-hand shops offer new or gently used clothing, accessories and household items for a fraction of the cost at a retail store. Who wouldn’t shop there first, right? Wrong!

Some people take a look around them when they attempt to walk in a second-hand shop to make sure no one they know is around.  Myself I waltz right in as I just love second-hand shops.

Tip: If you are worried what your neighbour or mate might say because they see you in the store ask yourself this “If they see you then you must see them” so what? Who cares?

The stigma put on second-hand shops that they are for the poor or for starving students is WRONG. These stores such as Value Village, The Salvation Army Thrift Store ( Sally Ann)  have grown in popularity in exponential rates over the past decade. Why?

The answer is easy many people now see the value in second-hand items. They also see the savings and understand  the cost to the environment and the re-use value.  Most clothing if not donated ends up in clear bags ending up in our landfills. We need to cut down on landfill waste and recycle.

Come Halloween or during 50% off sales these stores are bustling with people who line up hours in advance just to get their hands on some super sales!

If you want to find a book or a piece of furniture check these shops first or you can try your local Kijiji or Freecycle as you just might find what you are looking for.

I started shopping at second-hand stores a long time ago, actually me mum and dad were avid thrift shoppers and still are today. Although I only buy jackets, t-shirts and work clothes the pay off has been huge for me.

I go through t-shirts at work like nobody’s business and they are trash by the time I am through with them. Why on earth would I want to go and buy a new one?

I sometimes ask my freecycle mates if they have any t-shirts so I can simply mess them up at work. The people in the freecycle community are very welcoming with open arms.

Yesterday I picked up a couple deals while attending the Value Village 50% off sale which I was told happens every 3 months or so.  I love surfing, skating and snowboarding so naturally when I noticed a REEF T-shirt I grabbed it. The t-shirt looks like it was hardly ever worn and only cost me a mere $2.00 plus tax. Check it out below, what do you think? These t-shirts can range in price close to $50 Canadian unless you snag a good on-line deal.

I also picked up a couple of tank top t-shirts for work and the wife picked up a new blouse ( never worn) for $2.50. I’m sure the regular price was far more than that.  All these items fit nicely into our monthly clothing budget.

At the end of the day, thrift stores are great if you know what you are looking for. Even if you don’t know what you are looking for it’s worth popping in to see if you can snag a bargain and in some cases a rare antique worth a lot of money. Ever watch Storage Wars on A&E, some of the finds would blow you away!

You never know what people throw away, donate  or give you for free! It could be worth nothing to them but worth millions to you even if it is a t-shirt! So to answer my question, Is it worth it?

You bet it is! If you know your prices!


What have been your best second-hand purchases?

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  1. Mary Davies says:

    Now that I am retired, I volunteer at a local charitable thrift shop, 3 mornings a week. This has increased the variety in my wardrobe significantly!! Recently I saw a lady in tears because she had bought a gorgeous dining table, 10 chairs and a china /hutch cabinet for a mere 20% of what a Thomasville set would have cost brand new. She stated she had always wanted a really nice dining set but it was always out of her reach, so she was brought to tears by the thrill of her purchase. I see this over and over even in regards to clothing items. We receive a huge number of donations, thanks to the generosity of area residents, and are amazed at the number of donated items which still have the original tags attached. It truly is a throw-away society. Anything shabby or stained, missing buttons, broken zippers, well-worn is never put out for sale. The discards go to another charitable group for conversion into rags etc ; at our shop, worn towels are cut into washcloths for third world; at the end of summer season, sandals are also sent to third world. The list goes on, very little goes into the garbage. I enjoy volunteering there, it is good for my mental health, makes me feel I am still contributing to a need in the world, and provides some routine in my life.. By the way, unlike Value Village or Goodwill, no sales tax is charged at a charitable thrift shop. Local charities benefit as well as a local Christian school where tuition assistance is provided for students. I have never been too proud to shop in a thrift shop, my children were raised with better wardrobes thanks to secondhand clothes from friends, and now one of my teen granddaughters says the thrift shop is her favourite shop – she even brings some of her wealthier friends for a new experience – to shop for bargains! One brought her grandmother who was thrilled with a Doulton figurine! I cannot say enough good about the value a charitable thrift shop provides for the community.

  2. We live in a remote area in Canada. Shopping options are limited. I have a teenager that seems to have an eye for fashion and loves her name brands. She learned a long time ago that i will only by one item at the actual store, but I will buy a whole bag at the thrift store. She gets a wider variety of brands and I save a ton of money. When we are done with them they are donated back. We might as well keep the cycle going.

  3. I love second hand stores! They’re perfect for my son’s clothes since he grows so safe. I really love their jeans…soft and broken in beats stiff and new any day. My favorite pair normally cost $60 but I only paid a dollar. 🙂 I draw the line at under wear and things that might be a safety issue like car seats but everything else I’m open to.

  4. Thrifting has become trendy and, as with any trend, popularity is driving the prices up.

    I find better deals at small local thrift shops than at places like Value Village. V.V. is a for-profit enterprise, with paid employees and needs to make enough of a mark up to make money. Many small local thrift shops are run by volunteers and tend to donate most of their after-cost earnings to a specific charity. Because their overhead is lower, their prices are often lower too.

    Is it worth the effort to dig through stuff in thrift shops in order to find what you need? Absolutely. I know now which shops in my town are most likely to receive high quality clothing donations, dishes, knitting patterns, etc. and that saves me considerable time. I’ve found some excellent values and buy the majority of my clothes second hand. Not only do these purchases benefit me but they benefit charity too.

    • I wouldn’t stop going for what I need as I know I won’t find the price I find at VV or other Thrift Stores. I remember when we were in the Uk we brought Mrs.CBB to many thrift shops and they were thrift prices which it should be. They are just taking advantage like you say of the trend. Thanks for sharing Beth. Mr.CBB

  5. Christine Weadick says:

    We used to go there all the time, my younger son worked at the Thrift Store for a couple of years. My hubby used to go in there and another second hand store all the time for books and other stuff. I bought a pair of capris earlier this year from the Thrift store for $4.50. From Old Navy….I was happy to find a pair that fit, would have liked a higher waist on them but that’s hard to find anywhere…

  6. Lindsay says:

    The best thing I ever bought was my used flute. She didn’t use it and didn’t want to take it home from University–I paid $50 and was more than happy to take it home with me! It wasn’t a thrift store, but it was second-hand. I think thrift stores are a great idea, too. If you aren’t going to use it, someone else probably still can.

    • Hi Lindsay, Thanks for your comment. We always find at least one thing at a thrift store that catches our eye. You don’t really need to know what you are looking for, I think it just finds you. Cheers Mr.CBB

  7. I have purchased clothing, books and other items from Value Village and Salvation Army for many years now and can’t imagine (or justify) purchasing clothing new at full retail price. I do occasionally purchase new clothes on sale. There is no way my budget would allow me to spend full-price on clothing.

    Our local Salvation Army stores all closed this past February and I really miss them! I found great deals in those stores on a regular basis.

    I’ve found some really great deals on name brand clothing over the years at both VV and Sally Ann.

    • Thanks for your comment Pam. We love going to Value Village and the Sally Ann. I buy all my work clothes at VV and have found some amazing leather jackets and other great items at a fraction of the price. I’ll save the money in my budget.. that’s for sure. Cheers Mr.CBB

  8. we buy the boys clothes at value village. Since the 8 year old tears a pair of pants a week almost, and the 14 month doesnt stay in any 1 size more than 4 months….there is no point in buying alot of stuff brand new.

    • We go to value Village all the time.. there’s no shame in saving money and being frugal. I used to say who cares if anyone sees you in the store if you are worried, that just means they are doing the same as you! Thanks for your post Melissa and keep on saving your money! Mr.CBB

  9. I moved to the Canadian East Coast (from Germany) almost 6 years ago. First I had no clue what my co-workers meant when they said they had got something at “Frenchy’s”. Some years back I probably would have been embarrassed to be seen in one of those stores, but not anymore. Back in Germany, our daughter had been mobbed by a bunch of arrogant school-mates for wearing clothes that they thought she had gotten from a discounter. (Which wasn’t even the case as it was a hand-down from someone who shopped in high-end stores.) Here I meet people that are proud when they were able to make a bargain! Also, I agree that re-using clothes that are already produced is better for the environment. Although I have the impression that some people (including my now 24-year-old daughter) buy more clothes than they need because they ARE such a bargain. When I need something, I first go to a thrift store, and if they don’t have it, I buy new, preferably good quality that is on sale, and that will last me for years to come. I think buying good quality, but buying things less often, pays off big time.

    • Thanks for your post. I agree with you 100% about buying good quality when buying new. This is the exact way we think. I still have good quality sweaters I purchased years ago in the UK. Most people won’t go into the Thrift store unless they ‘have to’ or unless they are ‘frugal’. If your daughter is neither the liklihood of her going to them is slim. Even though you can purchase clothing at a decent price on sale it pays to be picky about where you buy your clothes.

      That being said I found a brand new t-shirt at Zellere for $4.00 which I will use for work as I just trash them. When you go to Value Village now a days the prices can get out of hand. Value Village is getting greedy in my opinion. The clothes were donated to them and on top of it we have to pay tax on used items that were already taxed once when the original owner purchased them. What a crock in my opinion.

      I find the Salvation Army to be more realistic with pricing but 99% of the time I only shop on 50% off days for work clothes otherwise I might as well just get a good sale at Zellers for a t-shirt that is new. Wake up Value Village no one is going to pay $59.99 for a pair of Tommy Jeans just because they have tags. If they could they sure as heck wouldn’t be shopping at VV.

      As for your daughter being bullied, it’s ashame that had to happen but good to see that society is stepping up to educate children on bullying. It should have been done years and years ago. Parents should teach children that treating others with respect no matter who they are is the way they treat everyone.


  10. I was put off for years at the stale smell of some thrift stores . . . . now I am no longer too proud or picky to shop there. Found some interesting items, more times than I can count. yesterday I was heading for a meeting, where I would have to take my boots off – suddenly realised I had bare feet in the boots LOL. Ran into a thrift shop and got a pair of Tabi socks for 99 cents, I know the original price was around $5 a pair. Brand new with tags still attached. Mind you, it took 10 minutes to get through the lineup at the till, but my feet were presentable when they came out of the boots!!

  11. michele miller says:

    that is a great article. I have to admit I am one of those people that don’t shop at thrift stores. I guess it is the stigma that you are poor or something. It must all be how you are raised or something. But to look at your reef shirt it looks like it is brand new. Maybe I will give it a shot.

  12. freethnkr1965 says:

    Thrift stores are awesome! The majority of our clothes and a good deal of our home furnishings are from thrift stores.

    • Same here, it’s the first place we look when we want clothes or items for the home. I also look online as well and most times we find what we need. The item may need a little sandpaper or spray paint but in the end it looks new! Thanks for your comment.

  13. I absolutely think it’s worth it to buy clothes from a thrift shop. Most stuff there is junk, but occasionally you’ll find a barely-worn shirt or pair of pants that would otherwise cost ten times as much. I do the majority of my clothes shopping at thrift stores.

    This is particularly true of children’s clothing. Since they’ll outgrow it soon, why not buy it secondhand?

    • I did have to laugh yesterday. I had a lady stop my wife and I as we were looking at jeans. She says to us, “look at the price of these jeans, if I could afford $59.99 I wouldn’t be shopping here”. They were brand new Tommy Hilfiger Jeans marked at $59.99 which was outrageous in a Thrift Store. You have to pick and chose but for the most part you will always find awesome deals and save the money you would have spent on new in your budget! Thanks for your post mate~ Mr.CBB

  14. Canadian Performer's Money says:

    I am fortunate to work in the film industry and often times when a film wraps they have a wardrobe sale. The productions must buy multiples of each piece of clothing incase one gets damaged during filming (they can’t be running around looking for a replacement).

    They are left with a lot of unused backup wardrobe at the end of a shoot and sell it for pennies on the dollar. I did my big shop for the year a few months back when Smallville finished shooting for 10 years in Vancouver.

    • The point is you did it and you spend pennies to do it. I presume you picked up some high quality clothing. Good for you, that’s the way to do it. Thanks for sharing that and welcome to my Canadian Budget Binder Blog!!

  15. My husband’s Aunt has gotten me hooked it on it. I hate the notion of paying full price now. I got dress pants and jeans for a fraction of what they would cost me new!

  16. lol LOVE the “if they see you, you see them ” comment that’s it exactly!~ Thx Mr.Cbb!~ Great article!~

    • I just never understood it when people would say “I’m not going in there, what if someone sees me” Well duh if they see you then they are shopping there as well. Might as well go up to them and toot their horn! 🙂

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