What to Look for When Shopping Secondhand - theuntamedthread.com

What to Look for When Shopping Secondhand

One could argue that shopping retail is easy. You go into the store (or pull up a website), expect everything to be new and shiny with tags and labels and no flaws, stains or shrinkage (yes, we said shrinkage 😂). That said, all things shiny and new come with a “price” and you pay it unless you have a great coupon or it’s Black Friday.

Shopping secondhand is a little more nuanced and some would say an art form but it’s worth the time so save 60%-90% off retail prices for about the same quality. So if you are not an avid secondhand shopper, this is a great down and dirty (no pun intended) read for you!

If you are shopping a secondhand store online, here are the things to look for in the product descriptions so you can know what to expect:

  • Pieces labeled with the following terms have been worn and may have minor signs of wear or flaws like a stain, snag or small hole:
    • Pre-owned
    • Pre-loved
    • Gently used
    • Gently worn
    • Excellent used condition (EUC)
  • Pieces labeled with the following terms to be in great condition, likely never worn or washed but may still have a minor flaw like some surface dirt from a warehouse. 
    • New with tags (NWT) or New in Box (NIB)
    • New without tags (NWOT) or New without box (NWOB)
    • Store returns (clothing someone returned because of fit or a flaw; tags may have fallen off but they are still considered “new”)
    • Sample clothing (created as a prototype but never sold in a store - these don’t always contain a logo, size or fabric tag)
    • Note that many reselling businesses will not wash a new with our without tag garment when there is minor surface dirt or it cannot then be sold as "new".

If you are shopping a secondhand or thrift store in person, these are the places on a garment where flaws are typically found. Make sure you give a piece a “twice over” as many secondhand clothing stores, especially thrift stores, do not take returns. 

  • Armpits for sweat stains, deodorant stains and wear.
  • Buttons and snaps to make sure none are missing. Replacing a button is pretty simple but if the buttons are unique, you may not find a matching one.
  • Zippers to make sure they work. 
  • Soles of shoes for level of wear and to ensure they are not separating from the bed of the shoes.
  • Shoe liners, especially in sneakers, are often missing and the inside back heel of a running or athletic shoe could be worn or torn.
  • Linings of coats and jackets for tears, holes or snags.
  • The back heel of shoes (right above the heel) because when we drive, this gets pressed down on the car mat, resulting in staining and wear.
  • Crotch and seat area of pants and leggings as this area tends to get worn out first.
  • Hems of jeans and pants. If pants are too long for someone, they may have dragged on the ground causing fraying and tears.
  • Inside of pockets to make sure there are no holes. Go ahead, stick your hand in there. Sometimes you find money 😂.

This is just a sampling of what to look for when shopping secondhand and for minor flaws, if you are handy, it’s worth it for the price to take it home and sew a button or use some stain remover and wash. In our next blog, we will give some tips on great cleaning and refreshing tools and products because not all flaws are permanent!

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