Second-Hand Experience


For this consumer, who hates shopping, second-hand stores are fun. My most memorable purchase was a laundry rack. Before trudging to Target or Kohl’s, I stopped in Goodwill. Passing through isles of tchotchkes, knick-knacks and wall décor, I almost tripped over the most impressive laundry drying rack I ever saw. Collapsed and leaning against the shelving unit, it was tagged at $5.00. How convenient.

I’ve found used furniture safer than affordable new furniture for sturdiness and durability. So, I was happy to trash pick a swivel rocker from my neighbor. Years later, after our family dynamic changed, I donated the rocker to Goodwill. They priced it at $25.00. On a subsequent trip to Goodwill, the rocker was gone. I was giddy knowing that instead of rotting in a landfill, the rocker was getting a 3rd life with another family.

Shopping non-profits is conscious-free spending. I’ve even re-donated purchases. This is recycling at its finest. The Goodwill Store may have a well-paid CEO , but it provides a community with jobs and a local store of affordable products. The Goodwill near me recently expanded. It’s the largest second-hand store for essentials I’ve been in. See my humorous experience during their Sunday special here.

Go to Habitat for Humanity ReStore for large items. My local Habitat ReStore has a huge selection of furniture and home improvement materials. I volunteered at a ReStore and was amazed at their stock of doors and windows. And ceramic tile! Those boxes were heavy. Hubby and I recently bought a new 12 x 15 area carpet there for $20.00.

Green Drop serves Purple Heart, National Federation for the blind, American Red Cross, and St. Vincent de Paul. I’ve seen their truck picking up bags from a neighbor’s home. Wrap fragile items securely before donating. The Green Drop collection facility near me isn’t a store, so dropped off items aren’t put immediately on shelves, like at Goodwill. They’re shipped out.

UrbanPromise not only uses donations to aid city communities, their store also serves my town by providing a local shop that sells necessities and more. Today, I bought a tablecloth, 5 unused decorative rubber stamps, sealed Post-It notes in the shape of a flower, and a new unwrapped box of 3 large scented soaps. The total was $20.00. Thanks to second-hand stores, I can afford linens with high thread counts.

Of course, use common sense buying used items. Non-profits usually won’t sell things like baby furniture (too unsafe), mattresses, food, or personal items like hairbrushes. However, sometimes volunteers stock shelves and floors. Things can slip by that shouldn’t be sold used. Make sure electronic works before buying. You may not be allowed to return them. Or might only receive store credit for a returned item. Ask if the electronic was tested. The store may let you plug it in and try it out. I’ve seen workers/volunteers being friendly and helpful when asked about electronics.

Before spending top dollar on a Halloween costume, check out non-profits. Sometimes they have new wigs and other costume essentials still in their original, sealed wrapping. Creatives fashion costumes with things meant for other uses. You could put together a unique get-up that wins a contest because it isn’t “store bought”. Shop early. I see these stores busiest in September.

I’ve talked with people who buy from non-profits and resell those items online or through their own thrift shops. Remember this when you see prices at non-profits that seem a bit high. Non-profits are forced to price their inventory so that people shopping to profit for themselves don’t sweep shelves. That would deprive those products to people who need them for themselves or their families.

Warning: My husband said some candles I’ve bought have that “Goodwill smell” to them. Now I’m sticking to candles sealed in their original packaging. Of course, clean everything before use. Check clothing for pulls, holes, stains, dry rotted rubber, and stretching.

Shop with your head high; you’re helping others and saving room in landfills as you save money. Think of dear old Granny’s dusty, disheveled home when a store shows signs of volunteers being sick or on vacation. Even if you don’t enter the store with child-like awe, it’ll hit you when you see items from your past. I’ve chuckled to myself picking up a familiar game. But then, I put it back on the shelf. Overbuying won’t save money, or space in a home.

Buying from second-hand stores is more fun than getting something used. If you receive a gift from me, be assured it’s not from a second-hand store. If my gift to you does wind up there, I won’t be offended. I’ll be proud you recycled, and happy the gift isn’t in a landfill.    





  1. Makes CENT'S to me. Great story!

  2. Dawn, this is wonderful! I donate furniture, clothing, toys, home decor all the time. Bravo to you for finding a clothes drying rack. I need one of those. Never thought of looking at Goodwill for one. Great idea!! I think it's wonderful to give items another opportunity to serve someone else when you are finish using them. Bravo, Dawn! Excellent post to remind others of to donate or shop second hand.

    1. Thank you, Victoria. I'm not sure how easy it is to find a specific item when shopping at second hand stores. But I go regularly and keep in mind what I need that's not something I need to get right away.


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