Buying second hand: tips and tricks
I first started buying second hand when I was in Italy and I wanted a nice retro' looking wardrobe for my bedroom. I couldn't find anything suitable in the local stores selling brand new furniture so I decided to hunt it in some vintage shops. I actually found the perfect one for me in an second hand store and it was very cheap but in pristine conditions. Since then, my passion for antique kept growing and shopping in vintage stores became an habit.
It is not only about the prices being considerably lower: sometimes it is the other way round as vintage can be very expensive too, especially for rare, antiques or design items. It is more about the thrill of the hunt, the satisfaction of owing something unique that has had history before you. People make the assumption that buying something "old" means paying for poor quality items but rarely is like that.
Nowadays is difficult to find products that are meant to last, both in fashion and home decor and furniture, while a few years ago fabrics and materials were carefully selected to last a lifetime.
I still have some amazing pieces of clothing and jewellery for the 80s that my mum used to wear and they look incredibly new even after a decades of wears.
Now you if buy a new jumper you can be grateful if it survives for a couple of years, and usually it bobbles massively and loose shape after a few months (even the very expensive ones sometimes).
Same for furniture. Either you spent an actual fortune for new or buy the cheap version form Ikea. It is absurd. In my opinion it is a much better investment purchasing vintage in good conditions. You have the price of the high street with outstanding quality.
Another reason is that it is more environment friendly. Fashion is one of the most polluting industries on the planet so I can find a good quality, pre-owned item I would always prefer it to a new one.
Of course I wouldn't buy second hand underwear, shoes or very personal items such as cosmetics for hygiene reasons but all the rest is welcome.
I recently bought a couple of blazers form Ebay, my favourite website for second hand shopping.
Gumtree is another alternative if you prefer to buy locally, but sometimes the quality is not the best.
Depop and Vestiare are great websites for pre-owned design fashion and accessories, while Vinted is more for high street items.
Ebay is my favourite because you can literally find everything you want and I also enjoy the auction thrill when the item you have been watching for days is about to end...I usually bid at the very last minute (around 20 seconds before) and I think it is a good trick because I win almost every time.
I usually bid the amount that I honestly think it fair and I tent to be quite right.
I am very careful with the details: I only shop from 100% positive feedback, smoke free and pet free sellers (so it is less likely that the item will smell weird) and I ask for more pictures or measurements if the description is not clear.
Returns are not accepted so it is wise to check all the information correctly before buying.
If something goes wring you can still report the issue to Ebay or the seller itself and in the worst scenario you can always sell it back if it's not what you were looking for.
When I am the seller, I make sure to list all the details of my item and I include plenty of good quality pictures to make it more attractive.
If buying online is not your cup of tea, I got you covered: London is full of lovely vintage markets and charity stores, especially in the East end.
My favourite ones are in the Shoreditch area, such as Brick lane ( Beyond Retro' is my favourite). The prices are higher than purchasing online but you can see the quality and trying them on which is always a bonus.
Charity stores are also great if you like reading as they have a huge variety of books and novels. The price range goes from £1 until £4 and they are usually very well kept. I love finding postcards or notes from the previous owner while reading!
Here, some pictures of my latest Ebay finds:
I hope you enjoyed it and it opened your mind towards a new shopping habit!
Stay tuned: next post on Friday :)