Second Hand Stores “Finds”

Anyone who has read the blog for long knows I love my second hand shops but there has been a few interesting things happening to them over the past years that is not being talked about.

So lets have a little chat on some of the myths of second hand shops

Myth 1-  Cheap Prices

Depends on where you are live and where you are going.. you need to know your prices, you need to know your brands and you need to go often.. and know that the truly amazing items are cherry picked by the staff and by the first people that go into the store..

There is a reason that people are lined up half a block long on the first opening day at my local favorite shop and if you know you want a certain something.. you had better head there fast to see what you can find.

Price creep at the second hand stores is a real thing.. 15 years ago.. shirts were a dollar and this was two dollars and so forth..  now at our local stores, it will say things like shirts 2 to 4 dollars per shirt depending.. all of the items now have a “choice” of prices and you do not know what you will get until you get to the till  and who runs the till really can change what the end price will be.

However the WORST price creep is in the city’s.. value village or the bigger run stores.. I have seen dollar store items costing more then there then the dollar store.. WT Bleep?

Now having said that.. there are still sale days to be had, bag day’s or super saver pricing can be found, you just need to watch for it and snap it up when it comes.

Myth 2 -It will always be there..

there is so much stuff that needs to find a home.. this was true before kijji and facebook market place.. and it depends on where you live again.. but locally in my neck of the woods.. the second hand shops that support amazing community programs are seeing drop off of donations..

This is coming from a number of different places..

first people are not buying the “cheap” one season clothing at the rate they used to be.. don’t believe me.. have a look at how many clothing stores that made their living off.. fast and cheap “fashion” clothing have closed down in the past five years..

There is a huge amount of people that are starting to buy higher quality stuff but this means that they want it to last, they look after it better and they are not buying new replacement gear and dropping off bags of things to the second hand stores.

We are seeing a lot of pulling back due to the unspoken recession we are living in.. you do not go buy new plates or new chairs or new “keep up with the jones” stuff when you are worrying about making your regular payments.. you keep what you have.. and that means much less donations.

They say that there are a huge amount of Canadian’s that are less then 200 dollars left in the bank between paychecks.. food is more important then keeping up with “the next fad”

Then you have the fact that those who do know the value of their items are doing their best to sell them in the marketplace instead of giving them away.. this massively decreases the funneling at the community thrift stores.

There are more and more estate sales or farm sales as instead of more being given away, the next generations do their best to get every dollar out of what was left.

Last but not least (and there are more I am sure) when you have the crazy housing crunch we are in and you have generations living together.. you are not combining multiple houses.. you are never buying or filling that next house..

Just as they are doing their best to keep elders in place at home, they are working hard and rightly so to keep generational wealth within the family.. which means less is being given away.

Myth 3- Older stuff is better quality

That is true and I know it, I have so many things in my home for that very reason.. but here is the catch..

Most of the really good stuff, the sturdy made, the made to last a lifetime items.. they are the most likely to be sent to market place, they are most likely be the things asked for by one of the grandkids..

The simple truth is that its getting harder and harder to find those type items at the second hand shops.. Its far more common now to see and find the cheaper items..

This is beyond cherry picking.. this is the new normal.. its been 40 years give or take since company’s turned one after another from being well built to being sent oversea’s to being made with plans that its only good for one year, five years or ten years..

See the issues.. its a simple math one..

Built to last stopped 20 to 40 years ago..

Most of the stuff in the thrift stores right now are made in the last 10 years..

Crap is crap no matter where its at..  regular stores, reduced store, dollar stores or thrift stores..

Now that does not mean that I am saying don’t go there.. go but lower your expectations and do not plan on counting on them in the future in the way we used to..

Bonus Issue..

Sadly more and more households are being totally wiped out due to climate issues, fires burning out whole houses, whole area’s.. Flooding taking out houses, whole streets, whole communities.

What can be saved after a natural disaster in terms of damage is very limited..  and when people are gifting out extra’s.. they are more likely to give privately

Those folks that do not have insurance or more likely was greatly under insured of turn to the market place and the thrift stores to help redo their homes..  While there is nothing wrong with this.. it does put another downward pressure on the system that at one point was used as a buffer for the low income families in our area..

That buffer is getting thinner..





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28 Responses to Second Hand Stores “Finds”

  1. Nicola says:

    Full disclosure, I thrift for myself but also to resell. I am seeing the price creep in the stores in all areas. Not so many 50c bargains to be had, but I am also seeing shift in what they are putting on the shelves. The thrift stores of the bigger charities seem to have shifted to a more commercial model. They are prioritizing making money to fund other projects, over finding new homes for used objects and providing low cost goods to people who need them. It means, I think, that a lot of vintage items end up in the trash, as the poorly trained volunteers do not see them as having a value and the store does not want long tail ( slow selling ) items on the shelves. They don’t want to wait for the person who buys the 1960s sewing basket, they want to sell 10 donut makers in the same period of time.The creep of the items being modern trash has been really apparent over the last 10yrs. Recently made items had little value when produced and zero value to me now they are used. There’s a growing number of “maxsold” online auctions here, but not so many live auctions. I love a live auction but I haven’t been to one in years. A lot of the “downsizing auctions” are resellers selling off excess stock. . Estate sale prices are the same as facebook marketplace prices, in the main. There are still bargains to be had, they will always miss things, but you do have to look harder, and the number of stores where I leave empty handed has definitely increased.

    • Great over view and very good catch on both the age of the folks picking and choosing what goes out makes a difference. the one shop has what I call the clothing checker.. their cloth are a touch more .50 to a dollar more but are always checked and little things fixed before they go out.. you will never find a button missing type thing.. once got a amazing heavy duty coat for free because it had a small bun mark on one wrist.. she had held it for me knowing it was my size and I have the farm..

  2. Margy says:

    I love visiting thrift stores. The best is our local Economy Shop. The people working there are mostly volunteers because the profit goes to our hospital for things like free TVs, phones and equipment that is needed but cannot be purchased by the hospital with their current budget. The volume of donations is high because of this and the volume of sales follows. The worst is Value Village in a large town. I still go look for specific items, but there are few bargains. If I only save a little bit I prefer to buy new. I keep a list of things I need and watch. If I wait long enough, everything I want comes through one of the stores I follow. – Margy

  3. Johnechaos says:

    You are forgetting two important tips…Value village has every Tuesday seniors day, this is 30% off, if your not a senior take one from your area with you. 2nd tip, during the week before the sale stop in everyday just to see what they have, if you find something you like, hide it in the store and then retrieve it on seniors day to get the 30% discount.

    • Thanks for the tips, I do not shop value village as they are only in the city (would have to drive a hour each way to get to one) and the odd time I have been they are far more pricy in cost then any of my local thrift stores.. plus my local stores support loczl community programs, one gives all profit to local food bank, another does a number of help for low income programs, another supports a combo of senior programs/youth sports.. because I do not have one.. where does the profits of value village go?

  4. Sheri says:

    The Permaculture Research Institute has a wonderful 5-part series on “Out Growing Consumerism”. Very insightful and your spot-on in your observations.

  5. Silver says:

    I agree with you that charity shops are changing. As we have been a one-income family for large parts of our marriage, if there is something we need I will always check our many charity shops first before buying new. And some of them are better (read:cheaper) than others. My favourite one is is underneath our library which is a proper gold and gravel store.
    You really have to search there, but I have had some lovely finds from there before. And I think that’s part of the process – it’s not meant to be a boutique, you are meant to go on a bit of a hunt. Some charity shop chains I very rarely go in or avoid now as they really price their items high.

  6. So true about the Value Villages in a larger towns or cities. Several Goodwill stores I used to frequent have also started following that business model. I am a fan of thrift stores in smaller communities that raise funds for local charities. I seem to have the best luck with Hospital Auxiliary thrift stores for some reason, maybe because they are staffed with volunteers who are senior citizens and know value when they see it. I also like these stores because my money goes towards a local charity instead of feeding the bureaucracy of a corporation who happen to run a second hand store.

  7. What a lovely Oak hutch Val! Did you buy it (or just admire it; )?

  8. Price creep:/. Yes, it’s happening here too and the people doing it (price setting) in my favourite store have definitely changed. (Guessing a younger, more aggressive, but less experienced person has been added into the mix… :/)

    • Also seen the cast-offs being sold my local… :/ For example there was an empty salt mill originally sold at Winner’s and they had it tagged at 3$ for Pete’s sake! (Not even sure if it was refillable) I did ask the manager why it was on the shelf at that price and let her know about a couple of other things I’d noticed like that… :/

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