The art of second hand shopping

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One of the best ways to save money as a student is by shopping second hand. Whether it be clothes, electronics or even vehicles, it’s possible to buy pretty much anything used. Beyond just saving money, it also does a lot of good in helping the local economy and cutting down on waste. For those who’ve never shopped for used items before, it can be hard to know where to begin. So, we’re here to help you get started hunting for treasures at thrift shops, garage sales and beyond.

Thrift Stores

Looking to pick up some new threads for cheap? Thrift stores are one of the best places to do this, as finding something that’s your size online can be a little tricky. If you’re looking for some basic clothes and want to hunt around a little bit to find something nice, hit up a place like Value Village, The Salvation Army Thrift Store or Talize. Students even save 10 per cent every day, when shopping at Talize.

For those looking for something a little more refined, check out vintage boutiques such as Filthy Rebena Vintage or The Sentimentalist. Here you’ll find a wealth of classy, chic and retro clothes with a higher price tag, but the ease of knowing that everything in store is high quality and quite fashionable.

Record and Book Stores

Shopping for music and books in second hand stores is always a fun and tactile experience that you don’t get from buying MP3s or ebooks online. There are places that specialize in selling these items, such as Grooves for music or Attic Books for book hunting, and they always have high quality product, but at higher prices than a general thrift store.

Those who enjoy spending the extra time perusing shelves to score some dirt-cheap deals can check out the more eclectic shops. A great spot for this is the City Lights Bookshop on Richmond Street. You’ll find some great books at low prices on the main floor, but the real magic is the hidden record store tucked away on the second level of the shop.

Online Second Hand

You can find almost anything on Kijiji, especially in Ontario where Kijiji is one of the biggest online second-hand marketplaces. However, because anyone can sell on Kijiji, not every item is listed for a fair price. A good technique, if you’re looking to purchase something specific is to keep an eye on the listings every day, as well as check eBay to get a sense of what the item is selling for used. Once you see something that you feel is listed for a fair price, do a bit of bartering and see if you can work out an even better deal.

When buying cellphones, ask for the IMEI number in advanced (usually printed on the back of the phone). With it you can run an online background check on the phone to be certain that it’s not a stolen or blacklisted item. All Apple products such as Macbooks and iMacs also have a serial number engraved in them which can be checked online before purchasing to make sure the item isn’t iCloud Locked.

Another great place to safely buy items online is Facebook’s new “Marketplace” feature which can be found at marketplace. Here you get the peace of mind of knowing who the person is that you’re buying from before meeting up, as every item listed is tied to the seller’s Facebook profile.

Garage Sales

You can never really go to garage sales looking for something specific. The fun thing about them is that you have no idea what you’re going to come across. It’s a much cheaper alternative to spending a Saturday at the mall and you often find items that are way cooler and massively cheaper than you would find anywhere else. If you have a vehicle, do some searching through an online classified like Kijiji to find what areas are having a bunch of garage sales that weekend. Plan a route, get a group of friends together and try to hit up as many as you can on a Saturday morning. You’re bound to find stuff you never knew that you needed.

Enjoy The Hunt

Shopping second hand can sometimes take a while and it may not be as convenient as going to a retail store and finding exactly what you’re looking for right away, but that’s also why so many people enjoy it. The search for great deals can be lots of fun and the time that it takes makes it all the more worthwhile when you finally do find what you’re after for a fraction of its price. So, get out your loonie and toonies and hit up your local thrift store. You never know what you may find.