Smart Second Hand Shopping

Second Hand shopping is a good way to save money on things that you really don’t need to buy new. But making that determination of what you DO need to buy new can be a bit of a trick. So here’s a quick rundown of some things to think about when you try to get something second hand.


ReStore donors often switch out lighting when moving into a new home as it doesn’t fit their style, this means there is a variety of styles and looks in lighting available. They also see a lot of vintage light fixtures that are donated, which can bring a different look to a room.

Don’t shy away from DIY projects either, if you’re not finding exactly what you’re looking for.  Cleaning up old fixtures is always an options. And if the lighting isn’t exactly in working condition, here’s good news: Rewiring a light fixture is not as hard as it sounds.


With imagination and a little elbow grease, you can turn a worn but well-loved table, dresser, bookshelf, or chair into a refinished or repainted masterpiece to fit any decor, and at a fraction of the price of a new built-from-a-box piece.

Another benefit to buying used? A lot of old furniture is especially well made. Look for solid wood pieces, which have more refinishing potential since they can be both painted and stained. On dressers, sideboards, or end tables, check for signs of craftsmanship like dovetail joinery on the drawers; on other pieces, you can check for signs of peeling veneer to get an idea as to whether or not the wood is solid.

That’s not to say wood is the only thing you can refinish, though. Chalk-finish paint and spray paint are both versatile and work for re-painting a variety of materials, from laminate to metal.

Kitchen Cabinets

When redoing their kitchens, a lot of homeowners think they have to either work with what they have or buy new. If you can find a second hand store with them in stock chances are those cabinets come from homes undergoing renovations, and often wind up at ReStore, or on Craigslist, or Facebook Marketplac, for no other reason than the renovator didn’t care for them.

While you may not be wild about the finish or door style either, it’s crucial to note that doors are much cheaper to buy new than cabinet boxes. So even if you get used boxes to pair with new doors, you’re still saving a ton of money. As for finishes, cabinets can be repainted by any patient DIYer; solid wood ones can be re-stained, too.


When it comes to large appliances; refrigerators, dishwashers, washers, dryers, etc. Don’t buy secondhand before giving them a thorough once-over. If they don’t meet the below standards, skip ‘em, pros say.

Make sure first and foremost that it fully functions, ask the place you’re buying it from to turn it on for you. In addition, make sure to check that the connections are all intact; the power cord should be clean from any taped-up wires. If it’s an appliance like a dishwasher or washing machine, make sure the water connections are clear and that the seller gives you all the correct hoses to install it in your home.

Another thing to keep in mind with appliances is that older models might work just fine, but could cost you lots in energy usage. For instance, EnergyStar has a calculator to help you figure out how much extra cost to anticipate depending on the year of manufacture for your fridge, which will help give you a better idea of what your long-term costs are.

If you are able to find a unique vintage piece with lots of character, like a 1940s gas range, it might be worth the hassle to get it up to working order for your own home. After all, with all the wear that comes with secondhand appliances, there’s tons of character to be found, too.

The end result is that no matter what you are looking for, with careful consideration and plenty of research done before you buy, you can find interesting; potentially superior products, at a greatly reduced price – just by buying them second hand.


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