MMM Check-In: Some Thoughts On Shopping Secondhand

January 18th, 2010 - filed under: Furthermore » Monday Monthly Mission

This month we’ve pledged to shop entirely secondhand, foregoing the mall and frequenting thrift stores instead. I’m thrilled by the enthusiasm over this mission, with tons of readers happily signing on. So tell me guys: how’s it going?!

Alas, we’ve been a bit waylaid here at HQ. Being on bed rest certainly puts a damper on shopping trips. Still, I managed to sneak off to the gently used baby boutique in my neighborhood, and picked up a few super cute essentials, as well as some much needed cloth diapers for my slowly growing collection. And just this past weekend, Damian took some of my store credit (trade-in value) at one of the local shoppes, and found a pair of mint condition Lucky brand jeans for 1/5 the cost of a new pair. Lucky is his favorite, so this was quite the cause for celebration!

Since this mission is all about thrifting, and anyone who shops secondhand knows the joy and the thrill of the hunt, I thought it might be fun for us to really share the love. Here’s what I’m thinking:

1) Send me pics of the pillage! If you score something amazing that you’d like to share, email me a picture (you don’t have to be wearing it if you don’t want to) at Please include your first name and the city/country you found it in. At the end of the month I’ll post all the pictures, and we can all revel in the glory of the secondhand goods!

2) Send me the names and addresses of the BEST secondhand stores in your city, and maybe a brief description of why they’re so rad. I want to compile a list of the greatest thrift stores across America (across the world??). So send me all the top secret hot spots you know of in every city you’ve been to. At the end of the month I’ll post a master list, and I’ll continue to update it periodically.

I hope this mission is treating you well – it’s a fun one! Happy hunting, and may the thrift store faeries sprinkle their pixie dust all over you!

  • Janine

    I bought a pair of leggings for $3 yesterday from Ross and have been feeling guilty ever since. I’m not sure that I want secondhand leggings though. But it’s a cop out, because you’ve listed plenty of more conscience-friendly places to get undies etc.

    I did find a fabulous secondhand denim jacket last week, which I posted on my blog! I also made a quick post about the Monthly Mission on my site. :)

  • Lisa

    Awesome idea. I have been working on a new blog all about me and my families thrift store and vintage finds at You can use any pics from the sight that catch your fancy. Last year I started this months mission and it has actually made me more stylish! I will work on an address list too.

  • Diana

    Since I’m a new reader I just stumbled on this mission, and I’m in (it’s an easy one anyways, since I basically do it already). But it’s tiny bit more challenging now since I’m the same boat you are sayward, trying to find second-hand maternity and baby stuff. As my belly is newly starting to expand, I’ve just started my search. And while the second-hand shops in Lyon aren’t that great compared to what I was used to in the US(I wish we had a used baby boutique!) there is a ton of stuff online. And we actually have freecyle in France, I’m keeping my eyes peeled! Will definitely send some pics of what a find. Not sure if you really want addresses for Lyon, maybe not that useful for now, but can send them if you like!

  • stephanie

    my best two second-hand finds were discovered this summer : a pair of ‘citizens of humanity’ jeans for $3.85 : yes, three dollars and eight-five cents. and a ‘nicole miller’ black & green silk short-sleeved dress for $6.00 from a girl in my neighborhood who was having a stoop sale.

    i have so many others … i’m eying another pair of ‘citizens’ at a very upscale second-hand shop near work, but they’re $54. … a bargain, for sure, but after paying $3.85 .. well, i’m sure you understand.

    i nearly freecycled a few pair of dana buchman wool trousers, but they were a size too big for me, so i passed them up … no sense in buying just for the name : if you can’t wear it, it’s not a bargain.

  • Anne

    I just did a blog post on bargain shopping & thrifting — it’s so much fun!!

  • Karmalily

    I’ve been lucky enough to find tons of great cooking stuff at second-hand shops. Stuff like a hand-mixer, tons of pots, pans, and casserole dishes, mugs, and even an immersion blender that worked perfectly. Plus it’s nice to be able to buy new clothes and not spend hundreds of dollars :)

  • Austin

    I had the same experience with Lucky jeans, the one’s I’m wearing right now were practically new when I found them at a Value Village here in the Seattle area, for under $10! I love getting a good deal on jeans at the thrift store, you just have to keep looking.

  • Liz

    Sayward- It’s so awesome that your doing this second hand shopping challenge! I’ve been participating and not even known it:-) I used to shop at thrift stores all the time in my teens, but in the past 10 years I’d lost my individuality and had been a slave to brand names and certain stores. Reading about your “ethical sartorialist” mindset has really inspired me to stop being such a slave to consumerism. Your right that we can find excellent clothes that are very fashionable and hold on to our morals (and our cash) in the process. I have definitely adopted this mentality and hopefully will never buy from the mall again. You are such an inspiration and it’s nice to find like minded people! :-)

    BTW- I just bought a lot of pieces from the Goodwill on McKnight Road, Pittsburgh, PA. I’m liking skirts and sheer tops lately, and i found a lot of them. They always have great stuff!

  • Jenny B.

    super excited for this one!

  • Christy

    I moved to San Diego (from Brooklyn) & arrived in my empty apartment a week ago. Since then, my boyfriend and I have bought a kitchen table (& chairs), buffet, coffee table, couch, armchair, bedframe, nightstands, desk, computer chair, lamp, and 3 rugs off of Craigslist! It’s been a ton of work (communicating with people and picking up furniture), but we’ve saved so much money and felt good knowing we weren’t consuming tons of cheap furniture. Not to mention that some of items were just great finds!

    We did splurge on a brand-new mattress, though… I can’t quite get myself to buy a used mattress.

  • Ginger Baker

    It’s good to see you back! I will be heading to my local thrift store on Thursday, which is the next chance I have free time. I need me some pants, stat! I don’t do a lot of thrift store shopping generally (I don’t do ANY clothing shopping generally!) so I am excited. :-) I love to get rid of as much as possible (with two kids I am constantly accumulating stuff), so I use freecycle a lot, and more recently have been thrilled to discover a neighbor’s stone wall that is now serving as the local pick-up and drop-off area for anyone who wishes to use it. Since it’s on my walk to the girls’ school, I just bring a bag along and leave it there, and it is usually gone by that afternoon!

  • Sarah

    My neighbor uses this online thrift store: I’m pretty sure it’s not all secondhand though :)

    I hardly ever go shopping-maybe twice a year? But, what I want to know is how do you get family members not to shop for you at Kohl’s or Target??

  • Lily

    I bought my daughter 3 tops, 2 sweaters with zippers (one purple with a Cinderella princess on the back, purple ‘fur’ on the cuffs and hood, which she adores), a yellow skirt, and green Old Navy pants with adjustable waistband elastic. I also got a cord skirt and a striped knit sweater, but I’m not sure how much use these will get. They are more dressy, and not the most comfortable for playing. The others are such a find, I couldn’t believe it. And it all coordinates together and with other things she has. $27!

    For myself, I found two knit sweaters, a dressy black top, two long sleeve GAP tops, a green cardigan, and a green screen-printed 1/2 sleeve v-neck. They have all jumped to the top of my favorites, except the cardigan and dressy top, which I haven’t worn yet. $35!

    I shop regularly at the 2nd hand stores for my daughter, and sometimes for myself but have never been quite so happy with my finds for so little money. For myself, I know more what I’m looking for, and what I’m not, so that helps a lot. :)

  • bashtree

    I don’t have much in the way of clothing money this month (January is hard!) BUT I did manage to find a flannel shirt I really like, practically new. I work from home and have 2 dogs, so my go-to look is casual and comfortable and move-able and washable :) I am on the lookout for a good schoolgirl skirt!

  • Stacey

    I’m so jealous! It sounds like all of you have such fantastic thrift shops nearby. Living on a secluded farm in Northern Canada diminishes opportunities for such things. Hearing about excellent places to shop second-hand online would be awesome as well!

  • Leah

    Ooh, I miss the secondhand stores in upstate NY. Now that I’m in the deep south, the thrift finds are fewer and farther between. I did find, however, an awesome bright blue/black/green flowery miniskirt which I wore to a holiday party here.

    Too bad I’m currently on a no-spend-January plan (holiday travel has tapped the funds). I’ll do some thrifting in February, though.

  • Staar

    My top finds in my thrifting journey have been a Marc Jacobs lace skirt for 10$ at Value Village here in Ottawa….and I know this isn’t really a steal but at my local up scale consignment shop I found a pair of Salvatore Ferragamo red heels mint condition for $200 …mind you originally they would have been close to 700$ so ya for me it was a steal.

  • Sayward

    @ Janine – Man, I totally rock the secondhand leggings (especially being pregnant). It never even occurred to me to get squicked out by them. Whoops! haha

    @ Lisa – I agree, shopping secondhand has done a *world* of good for my style. And thanks for the link (OMG your family is RAD and your daughter is adorable. Love the name beatrix!) I look forward to the thrift list!

    @ Diana – Sure, send them along! Why not include some international thrift treasures? also a tip on maternity shopping – if you just buy regular clothes that are super stretchy (and tops that are longer, which are in style now anyway), you can get away with a lot for a long time. I’m just now, at 33 weeks, starting to rely solely on ‘real’ maternity wear.

    @ stephanie – Wow, those are amazing bargains! My only pair of Citizens were secondhand and I think I paid near $50 for them (but damn those jeans fit me awesomely and made my ass look *good*). Also, my wedding dress was by Nicole Miller, *sigh*, I lover her! I scored the dress, secondhand of course, on Ebay. Still paid $600 for it, but that was the best money I ever spent on a dress. I’ve never felt ‘pretty’ like I did on my wedding day. =)

    @ Anne – I agree, the most fun shopping there is! Great post!

    @ Karmalily – My immersion blender is this awesome puce colored thing from the 70s, haha! And I do the same thing, especially for dishes for recipe posts here on Bonzai! ;-)

    @ Austin – Value Village is my absolute FAVORITE. It takes a long time to shop it right, but it’s like meditation for me! $10 Lucky’s is a huge find too, congrats!

    @ Liz – Thank you, Im so glad you’re finding useful information here. I love hearing that kind of feedback! Would you mind emailing me the address of your favorite thrift store(the Goodwill?) in Pittsburg? Thanks!

    @ Jenny B. – Yay! I know, it’s a crowd pleaser – can’t really go wrong with shopping! =D

    @ Christy – That’s awesome! We’re also in the process of furnishing our living room. We found a great Craigslist couch but haven’t had much luck after that. Craigslist is such a great resource. And I love secondhand furniture!

    @ Ginger Baker – i love the community wall idea, I wish we had something like that here in my neighborhood. Hmmm . . .

    @ Sarah – It’s taken some time, but my relatives have learned that I prefer not to have new things bought for me. It was a matter of gently inserting my thoughts on consumerism and environmentalism into conversations, while still being gracious when I was given something. Like I said it took a while, but they totally understand now and no one’s feelings were hurt. It’s harder with the baby and some stuff just *has* to be new, unfortunately, but I’ve been blown away by how supportive people have been in getting me secondhand baby stuff. It’s so awesome! So I say, just keep bringing it up in subtle ways, mention why you’re not buying anything when everyon’s out shopping together, and eventually they’ll come to understand and respect your decision.

    @ Lily – Those sound like great hauls, I want pictures! =D

    @ bashtree – I hear ya! I work at home too and casual/comfortable/movable/washable pretty much sums it up perfectly. I *ahem* often just wear jammies. SHAME!

    @ Stacey – Ebay is great but can be a bit overwhelming to navigate. Still, you can find some pretty awesome secondhand stuff there. Etsy is also amazing with a huge vintage/thrift marketplace. I definitely suggest checking out Etsy for online secondhand shopping. Not only are you getting secondhand clothes, but you’re supporting someone’s small business!

    @ Leah – Hm, whereabouts in the south are you? I remember some amazing little spots in Texas, in Mississippi, and [I think] somewhere in the Ozarks. I like those small town thrift stores because vintage is less trendy there, and you can really score some amazing stuff! Good luck with the February adventuring!

    @ Staar – Um, I’d say $500 off is a real steal! =D I <3 Value Village and have found some truly amazing stuff there.

  • Valerie

    Being unemployed really puts a damper on my clothing budget, besides not having to dress to impress I don’t really need to add to clothing collection right now anyway.

    What I have been doing is when I need ANYTHING the first thing I do is look for used items. Craigslist, and Goodwill and a small consignment shop are the only resources here in Port Orchard. There is a St. Vincent de Paul but I am not sure if I support them. Their website states “The Society collaborates with other people of good will in relieving need and addressing its causes, making no distinction in those served because, in them, Vincentians see the face of Christ.” This is a much more open view than that of the salvation army, which I do not support, but I will have to see if they practice what they preach. I also found out there is a Value Village in Bremerton and will have to see how good their selection is.

    Because of these 2 factors I haven’t really been able to put the MMM into practice. I have heard it says you are mastering a new skill when you begin to dream about it. This tends to happen with foreign languages. But the night before last I dreampt that while on vacation I had attend a wedding and didn’t have anything wear. we stopped by the local thrift store and found stuff. we didn’t have any extra room in the luggage so we just dropped it back off when we were finished with it. weird but cool, huh?

  • Sayward

    @ Valerie – Good point about the Salvation Army, I’ve heard a number of less than desirable things about them over the years (in particular their attitude towards the queer community, if memory serves me correctly), but don’t know anything about St Vincent de Paul.

    I love your dream. I think that’s totally hysterical and also really pointed. It seems like the thrifting has definitely worked its way into your brain, even if you’re not able to use it right now. That’s a great thing! =)

  • Sheryl Gallant

    I absolutely love to shop second hand! I own very few things that were not purchased used.

  • Sayward

    @ Sheryl Gallant – Me too! I’d say 80% of my wardrobe is now secondhand. =)

  • Lenn

    Sadly my digital camera is broken, so no pics, but there is one good thrift store in our area, and I find something there almost every week. In fact, the only clothing items I buy at conventional stores any more are socks, bras and undies. Been that way for about 3 or 4 years now, and I love LOVE my cute, quirky, vintage wardrobe.

  • Sayward

    @ Lenn – Can you send me (either comment here or email) the name and address of the one good thrift store in your area? I’d love to add it to my thrift list!

  • melissa is located in Elk Grove Village Illinois (60007)
    They sell nwt and gently used boys and girls clothes shoes toys books game and more!

  • Caroline

    Hi all. Love your site, Sayward! As for secondhand, do you or any of your faithful followers have a sure-fire method of removing Febreeze from second hand clothes? Found a fab Land’s End winter coat for my little man at Goodwill but it positively reeks of Febreeze despite washing. I’ve read about using Calgon, but thought I’d check here. Sorry, in advance, if this was covered elsewhere but I didn’t catch it. Many thanks for all you do! -C

  • Sayward

    @ Caroline – I haven’t tested this at ALL, but I would try putting it in a plastic bag with a liberal scoop of baking soda, shaking it all up, and then leaving it tied up tight for a few days. Then remove and launder as usual. Good luck!