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5 Mistakes to Avoid When Secondhand Shopping

Even the most seasoned thrifter has picked up items we regret. If you are just starting out, here’s my quick and dirty (hopefully not like your secondhand items) list for avoiding disappointment at the secondhand store.

Try Things On

To avoid things not fitting when you get home and then re-donation (which wastes everyone’s time), try your items on when in store. This also means that your more likely to see if anything is wrong with the item which leads on to my next tip.

Inspect Everything

Check for soiled fabric, rips, tears, cracks, working zips, missing buttons.  Somethings can be fixed, but others can’t so it pays to check and double check.  If you find something that is really soiled or unusable, let staff know so it can be taken off the shop floor. 

Don’t Rush

All good things come to those who thrift – that’s the saying right? While there is a time and place for the ‘I’m just popping in for a 10 minutes’ shopping trip (which I tend to do and only look for one particular item), if you are serious about secondhand shopping, take your time and look through all the racks. Leave the kiddos at home, pop in some headphones and a good podcast. Zen out.

Stay Level Headed

This was my internal monologue when I first started secondhand shopping: “WOWOWOW all these dresses are only $7??!!! They are all so cute! I can get 10 for the price of one brand new! Guilt free shopping yaaaaaaay!” Then I would get home and realise I’m not Oprah and don’t have a separate wing in my house for my clothes.  Pace yourself, think ‘do I really need this, or am I only buying it because it’s cheap?’. Or do the ol’ KonMari method and asks if it sparks joy. If it doesn’t, leave it behind. 

Buy Quality 

When I first started out I bought everything I thought was cute, and ignored labels and fabrics. I still do sometimes, to be honest, if I really love a print or pattern, but I’ve learned that cheap fabrics and fast fashion brands don’t last. Man-made fabrics are often hotter and sweatier too. You might be extending the life of these items for now, but they won’t last and they’ll eventually end up in landfill anyway.  

Any other tips you can think of for someone starting out their secondhand journey? Otherwise, I’ll see you at the thrift store,

x Jess


I love opshopping, completing DIY projects, being thrifty and creating content. Most of all I want our presence to be light on our beautiful planet.