TOP 10 TIPS FOR SECONDHAND SHOPPING

How great is the 'gram? That's Instagram for the uninitiated. Who would've thought a humble little photo sharing app would become such a brilliant conduit for building communities of like-minded folk. What we have noticed is the sustainable/zerowaste/green living community growing at a rapid rate, particularly on Instagram. So many clever, generous and caring 'greenies' sharing their journey of living a life that is considerate of our planet. It's a very supportive community, inclusive of each person's own way of living. Part of our purpose at Urban Granola is to share these individual's ideas and perspectives in the hope that we can learn and even adopt some of those practices into our own lives.

Our first Insta friend is from the lovely Anita from @rocket_science.


My love for secondhand shopping started at a young age, when my Dad and I ‘clocked up’ the hours necessary for getting my driver’s license by driving around Sydney and visiting various flea markets and op-shops. My poor Dad was endlessly patient with me, as I spent hours and hours scouring secondhand stores and hunting for bargains galore.

So with over a decade of secondhand shopping experience under my belt, here are my top 10 tips for secondhand shopping:

1. Patience is key

Dedicate 30-45 minutes for any op-shop, by setting that time aside, you’ll know you can spend that time patiently going through the racks and you won’t be rushed for time.

2. Try everything on

By trying everything on, you can see if there are any small holes, loose stitching or any other flaws that you may not have noticed when it is on the hanger. The last thing you want is to go home and find that there is a hole in the pair of leather pants you bought! (I speak from personal experience).

3. Ignore the sizing

This is related to tip # 2 – ignore size labels and instead try everything on. By trying everything on you can see whether or not it fits your body shape and also whether or not you it suits you. This also allows you to think about how you can style it and if you can mix and match it with other clothing you have at home.

4. What is it made of and who is it made by?

I always check the material label (usually located on the side of the garment) to see what it is made of. Natural materials such as cotton, silk and wool are much more resilient than man-made fibres, also, they feel so much better on your body! I also try to look for well-known designer labels, the quality tends to be better and the items tend to stand the test of time.

 

RayBan sunnies I scored from Vinnies!

RayBan sunnies I scored from Vinnies!

 

5. Go to the same store regularly

By going to the same store regularly, you’ll get to familiarise yourself with the stock and know when new stock is put on the floor. This saves time in the long run, as you’ll be able to see what is new very easily!

6. Become friends with the staff

Get to know the staff in the store; they are lovely people who are usually volunteers. You’ll not only make new friends, but you can get insider tips on any great stock that has come in, and what days new stock is put on the floor.

7. Have a list

If I need to buy household items, an outfit for an upcoming event or replacements for things, I always have a list on my iPhone so I can easily refer to it and keep an eye out for it when I am op shopping. I also have a list of events coming up that I need to buy presents for such as birthdays, housewarming parties etc., so I can keep an eye for anything suitable for other people.

 

A collection of crockery that contains secondhand bowls I’ve collected over the years. A tip is to keep it to one colour palette so it doesn’t look like too much of a mish-mash collection.

A collection of crockery that contains secondhand bowls I’ve collected over the years. A tip is to keep it to one colour palette so it doesn’t look like too much of a mish-mash collection.

 

8. Get creative

Think outside the box when it comes to clothing and household items! Are there fun and creative ways you can alter it? Can you up-cycle the item and transform it into something new? Can it be spray-painted? Have a look on Instagram or Pinterest for some great ideas.

9. Be willing to say no

Sometimes you need to ask yourself the question – do you really need this item? I find it hard to say no to a good bargain, but if you don’t need it, or if you already have something similar– don’t buy it! Don’t be suckered in by a good deal, instead, like William Morris says ‘Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

A beautiful marble platter that I found at Vinnies for $20! The detail is amazing!

A beautiful marble platter that I found at Vinnies for $20! The detail is amazing!

 

10. Donate

Always give as well as receive. Remember, op-shops are usually run by charities and whilst it is a great place to get bargains, please remember to donate items as well to keep the cycle going!


Anita Vandyke is passionate about living a zero waste lifestyle, secondhand fashion and having worked as an Aerospace Engineer, rocket science! She loves easy environmental switches for everyday products, which sparked the hashtag #makethezwswitch. You can see more sustainable living tips on her Instagram @rocket_science.