Second hand stores, consignment shops, online resellers, antique shops, they are all potential goldmines for stretching your buying dollar and finding unique and interesting items.  Creating a Prosperous Moneylife™ is about choice and creativity – how you can create the life you want in a way that makes your wallet happy too.

Heading into second hand shops can feel daunting to even a seasoned shopper.  With some planning, the right mindset and a few tips and tricks, you will be finding treasures in no time.

Repurposing is not only eco-friendly, it is good for the wallet and your home!  Here are fifteen tips and tricks for reseller shopping to get you going.

1. Find your style

Although with a keen eye you may find current trends in resale shops, keep a look out for unique pieces to add flair to your style.  A simple wardrobe with a few really great interesting items can really make a statement.  Look at vintage shops and estate sales for classic items.

2. Dress for Shopping

There may not be a dressing room available, so tights, a tight tank and a loose sweater is a good combination to let you try on things without flashing the world.  Slip-on shoes make it easy and a purse that can go across your chest will keep your hands free.

3. Have an idea of what you are looking for

If you know what you are looking for, you can decide quickly if the shop is the right place, and you are less likely to get sidetracked. I knew I needed sweaters and that I had 30 minutes to look, so that is pretty much all I looked at.  Have one or two things in mind to keep you focused.

4. Decide what you are willing to spend before you head out

It is easy to spend more than you intended, perhaps buying things that you don’t LOVE just because they are cheap.  Keep in mind that four items at $12 is great as long as you really like them and they work for you.  If you got caught up in the “this is cheap, got for it” mentality, $48 for stuff you aren’t going to wear or use isn’t worth it.

5. Size it up

When shopping for something for your home, make sure you take measurements.  Measure the space for the item, but also measure doorways and stairwells.  You generally can’t take resale items back, so make sure you can get them into your house or apartment.

6. Use your smartphone

Find shops and sales in your area and map out your route. Look up comparable items to see if the price is reasonable, or if there is a market for reselling the item.  Look up brand names you are unfamiliar with to see their value.

Consignment Shop7. Know your neighbourhoods

Each resale store will have different items, often reflecting the neighbourhood in which it is situated. A resale store in an upscale neighbourhood will likely have slightly higher prices, and they will also generally have higher quality goods. People with more disposable income will donate items they no longer fit into or feel are no longer in style, even if they have only been worn a few times.  Many consignment shops take in items that still have tags on them – they have never been worn.

8. Source out Kids Stuff

You can find great children’s clothing at resale shops.  Kid grow so fast that resale clothing is often in very good condition.  Children’s Marketplace is a chain of kid’s resale stores in Ontario.  You can also find great stuff at Salvation Army, Goodwill and other charity shops.  Online you will find treasures on, eBay and the many Facebook Buy, Sell, Swap pages.

9. Look for unique Christmas time Wedding Gifts

Scour the antique mall for pretty antique glass ornaments and decorations to add to a handmade or vintage tree skirt for a Christmas themed wedding.  Find vintage Christmas cards to cut into small frames to hang with a ribbon.

10. Find out when new inventory goes out

If you know when the new stuff goes out you can get first crack at it, cherry picking the best items.

11. Make sure it works

Plug it in, put a light bulb in it, try the batteries. The vendor should provide you with what you need to try an item.  Just because it worked when they put it out doesn’t mean it hasn’t been broken in the meantime. Try it before you buy it.

12. Know your limits

Are you handy?  If not, be careful of taking on projects that are unrealistic. Know if your limit is swapping out handles on a dresser or sewing on buttons. Avoid purchasing items that need refurbishing or major alterations if that isn’t want you REALLY want to do.

13. Check out the books, movies and video games

If you or the kids are readers, check out the book section of resale stores, or go to a used bookstore for amazing treasures.  You can sometimes score a stack of video games or movies if a recent donation has come in.

14. Make friends with a tailor

Look for high quality items that can be purchased for a steal, even if they don’t quite fit.  Hems can be taken up, pants and jackets recut and dresses sized.  Look for designer coats, suits, dresses and jeans. A great item with a great tailor can create a reasonably priced outfit with a high priced look.  Be aware that it is difficult to tailor more than 2 sizes without recutting the whole outfit.

15. Bring your stuff in

Consignment shops allow you bring your items in and they sell them for you, giving you a percentage of the sale price. You can generally receive the money back as store credit, or a cheque.  Remember that you will need to book an appointment to bring your things in, and they need to be in style, in good condition and in season.  Used book stores will generally give you a set amount right away for the books you bring in.

Bonus tip – with Halloween upon us, head to the thrift store for items to create great costumes for yourself or the kids.  When it is inexpensive to begin with, it matters less when you tear it up, dye it green or toss it out afterwards.

Have a great time scoping out the antique malls, consignment shops and resell stores. If you have any tips and tricks we missed, share them with us below.

© 2013

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Personal finance expert, Karen Collacutt is founder and CEO of Make Friends with Your Money.  Karen works with ambitious people who are making good money but are wondering where it all went at the end of the month. She helps her clients to get clear on their money life challenges and opportunities, matching their money to their goals.  They build a plan, confidence and peace of mind around their money.
Certified Money Coach and Certified Financial Planner, Karen brings over 15 years of finance and business experience to her clients. Coach, speaker, author and change catalyst for those ready to create a positive and empowered money life, Karen delivers a fresh perspective on how to make friends with your money.
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