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I la-la-love secondhand stores. I think because my mom used to own one. I love the challenge of the hunt and the thrill of a good find. Also, I hate paying retail prices for anything. Truly. It drives me bananas because I know the mark up is insane. In fact, when shopping at a traditional retail store, I will always start with the sale rack. While out in LA recently, I stopped by two of my favorite secondhand stores - Crossroads Trading and Wasteland - both conveniently (or not so, haha) right across the street from one another. Secondhand shopping is eco-friendly and a lot less taxing on our wallets, so I thought it'd fit in perfectly with our style series. Here are my top five tips for successful secondhand shopping.
1. Go when you have time.
You can't be pressed for time when you go secondhand shopping. You need time to weed through the junk to find your treasure. And everything you pick should be thoroughly examined - check buttons, buckles, zippers, and seams before you purchase anything.
2. Have an idea of what you're looking for.
I tend to buy designer items secondhand. In particular, handbags. I'm drawn to designer bags because in my experience, they hold up so well. They also tend to hold their value so I don't mind investing in them because I know that if needed, I can recoup the majority of what I spent. But if I can score one at a secondhand shop? Even better. My recent pick up is this Proenza Schouler cross body bag that can double as a clutch and that is the perfect color for spring. I've been on the hunt for a good cross body bag for years but nothing I tried on hit at the right place on the hip until I found this one. The key, if you're hunting down designer goods, is to be sure you're familiar with the traits of an authentic item so you don't accidentally buy a knock off. I'd visit retail stores to get the feel for the item, and then research online. There are whole forums dedicated to authentications and if you're unsure, you could always place your item on hold, snap a few pictures, and upload it to an authentication forum where people will happily let you know if you're getting a deal or getting ripped off.
3. Don't be blinded by the price tag.
A long time ago, I realized that I had the tendency to buy stuff just because the price was good. While I might've been on the hunt for a pair of high quality heels, I never should've purchased them in brown just because they were my size and a good price, because guess what? They just sat in my closet until I hauled them to a consignment store. Just during my last trip to LA, I found my favorite Rag and Bone boots for $30 in like-new condition. I own them in black and wore them to death this past winter, and these were in a muted green color...the same exact color as the boots I wore here. I got as far as the checkout counter, and then had to put them aside. It didn't matter that the price was great - I already had a pair in the same exact color (seen here) that were comfortable and that I was happy with. The lesson, I've learned, is to buy it only if you love it. If brown isn't your go-to color and you know you probably won't get much wear out of it, it doesn't matter if it's $5 bucks or $500 bucks - it's a waste a money.
4. Buy cold weather clothing in warm climate secondhand shops and vice versa.
The best jacket I ever got at a consignment store was this Veda jacket in Los Angeles (for $100!), where it doesn't often get cold enough to pull it out. The best sweater I ever purchased at a thrift store was this cozy, thick Rag & Bone sweater in Las Vegas, of all places. Someone else had no use for a jacket or sweater in such warm climates and that meant that I scored big time! So take advantage of shopping cold weather clothing in warm climate shops and vice versa.
5. Take advantage of shopping secondhand when abroad.
If you're abroad for work or vacation, do a quick google search to see what secondhand shops are around. Often times, you can save on items by brands local to the region. Or, if you're hunting for decor for your home, you might score some really cool, one-of-a-kind vintage piece. That'd make a far better souvenir than a mug at the airport!
I'd love to know your secondhand shopping tips in the comments section below! I know secondhand shopping isn't for everyone - do you like it or does it give you hives just thinking about it?!