Five Tips on Buying Second-Hand Clothing


I buy most of my clothing from second-hand clothing stores. I always find good clothes in great condition and I save a lot of money! And every so often, with the proper strategy, I find incredible bargains that literally make my jaw drop. Here are five tips I’ve learned over the years on buying second-hand clothes:

1) Pick one day to hit all the charity stores in your town or city.

Charitable organizations like The Salvation Army and Goodwill usually have stores in large towns or cities. Once a month I pick a day where I travel to most, if not all, of these stores to see what bargains are available. Charity used clothing stores often have “red tag” sales, where all clothing with the same color price tags are discounted in price. I’ve also noticed that three or four times a year these types of stores will have a one-day sale where everything is half-off in price. Try to choose those days to look for great deals on clothing.

There are always incredible bargains to be had at charitable organization stores. I’ve found entire suits by fashionable brand name manufacturers for under thirty dollars in excellent condition. Blue jeans are particularly good to find at these stores, since they often have a lot of brand names like Levi’s, etc, in still very wearable condition for under ten dollars.

If you have any items to donate, clothing or not, consider giving them to charity stores like Goodwill and The Salvation Army. I’ve donated items at a few of these stores and the staff has come to know me, so I often get even better prices from the cashier at the till.

If you really want to crank it up to the next level for getting used clothing on the cheap, consider volunteering at a charity store. A few years ago I worked as a volunteer at a Salvation Army where I sorted through donations, so I was always able to get great clothing for myself for almost next to nothing or free because I was donating my time. Many of the clothing donations were in huge lots in my size, so I always had a great selection to choose from before the clothing went out on the rack for sale to the public.

2) Make friends with used clothing store managers

This tip may seem obvious, but it continues to pay off for me big time. Chat up the owners of good quality second hand clothing stores and become a regular customer, they will most often give you better deals out of appreciation for your patronage. I’ve made friends with one second-hand clothing store owner who gives me astounding deals! I bought a suede leather jacket in excellent condition, easily worth over two hundred and fifty dollars, for forty dollars because I became friends with that owner by frequently shopping at his store.

Another advantage to becoming friends with a good second-hand clothing store owner is you can ask them to keep an eye out for the types and sizes of clothing you favor. You will get great clothing that way before somebody else gets the deal.

3) Clothing exchanges

An odd phenomenon I’ve noticed is that women will have clothing exchange parties, but guys rarely if ever do. However, if you’re a man, you can still get good used clothing from these exchanges from your female friends because women sometimes bring some of their husband’s or boyfriend’s clothing to trade at these parties. I once received over a dozen men’s dress shirts in excellent condition from a friend of mine because she held a clothing exchange party and she traded some of her clothes for the shirts. The original owner of the clothing, a boyfriend of one of the party exchange attendees, had lost a lot of weight so the shirts were too big on him. They fit fine on me, and even better, the shirts were totally free. So if you’re a guy, ask a few women with whom you’re friends if they hold clothing exchange parties. Often they’ll be glad to see if they can get you some clothes.

If you’re a woman, hold a regular clothing exchange party every few months. Make it a fun time for your friends and you will get some incredible trades. Even better, your friends will spread the word that your exchange parties are fun and they’ll bring friends with even more clothing.

4) Garage and yard sales

Oddly enough, the items that rarely sell well at garage sales is often clothing. Entire boxes and racks of used clothing is often ignored by people at garage sales, so always check these for deals. Always haggle with the person running the garage sale for a better price, too. If you’re buying a lot of clothing from a yard sale, ask for a flat price for the entire bundle.

The weekend is the best time for yard sales. Check the newspaper and the craigslist website in your area for these sales. If a particular yard or garage sale looks favorable for used clothing, get there when it opens for business, not before. Don’t show up early because that will probably annoy the yard sale people busy setting up for the day and they’ll be less likely to give you a deal on clothing.

Often an entire neighbourhood will have a major garage sale where everyone on the same block sells their used goods on the same weekend. These sales are the best ones to hit up for used clothing because your travel time between houses is greatly reduced. Found out when these large communal yard sales are happening in the better, wealthier residential areas of your town or city; often the used clothing is of better quality than items bought at garage sales in the more “blue collar” neighbourhoods (no pun intended).

5) Warehouse and clearance sales

Clothing stores sometimes hold big sales from their warehouses to get rid of old and damaged inventory. These warehouses can be a little difficult to get to, since they’re often in the more industrial areas of a city, but very well worth it. The clothes will be in big piles, and you may have to compete with many other people searching through the same pile, but the deals are hard to beat. I’ve found great deals for 75% to 90% off because of small stains making the clothing unsalable. Clothing has to be in excellent condition to sell at a good price in a retail store, so even very slightly damaged clothing will be resigned to warehouse sales. Sometimes you can haggle at a warehouse sale if you choose a lot of clothing and, like at a garage sale, ask for a flat price.

I hope these tips will help you find great second-hand clothing at fantastic prices or free! Avoid the retail clothing stores with their large mark-ups; with a little effort, you will find great deals on clothes and you & your wardrobe will look great. Good luck and have fun!

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