I know that a lot of people are funny about charity shops, car boot sales and second hand clothing. More fool them - it leaves more of the good stuff for people like me! These are my thoughts on each of them.
Car Boot Sales
This is where you get the cheapest finds. You have to get up early, most of the sellers are already fed up by the time they have packed and unpacked the car and as its usually freezing most want to sell things as quickly as possible and get home. This makes for bargains. I am rubbish at bartering, being extremely English about such things I get embarrassed, so unless it is insanely priced I usually pay what they are asking. I am lucky to have a friend who comes with me and we know what each other like, having an extra pair of eyes helps. Always take a lot of change and a large, sturdy carrier bag as you never know what you may end up with.
Charity shops are a mixed bag. I have my favourite ones which I frequent as often as I can as you never know when you will find something special. I wont publish these as they are top secret and us thrifters keep these things close to our chest, we don't want to share our treasure! The reason that I say that they are mixed is that the pricing between shops (or often in the same shop) is often insane. Wealthy areas are usually the best but they are also much more likely to price highly. Designer bargains are also often to be found in the most unassuming ones so you never can tell. Personally I do not mind paying good money for designer goods from a charity shop, they are usually a lot less then a dress agency and its all for a good cause. I also do not feel bad about getting bargains from them either as I spend a fortune over the year and I donate generously back.
Now this is where a lot of my money goes! I consider myself quite an expert bargain hunter on Ebay but it is time consuming and not for everyone. The downsides are that there are a LOT of fakes on here so you must know what you are looking for and obviously you cannot look at items before they arrive. I have done a lot of buying on Ebay over the years though and if there are any problems with an item Ebay are very willing to sort it out even if the buyer is not. With regard to fake goods, you really must know what you are looking for and do your research. I have seen insane money paid for Chanel handbags that are fake and I am sure there are many women using them now who believe them to be real.
If you are after a certain item:
- Take your time, however tempted you are - do not buy the first one you see.
- Use the advanced search to see what previous items have sold for.
- Do a saved search so that any new items matching what you want is emailed to you on the day it is listed.
- Use the International option for more choice but be aware of shipping costs and tax.
- Think about how other people might describe things e.g. A Gucci handbag could be described as: Gucci bag, Gucci clutch, Gucci handbag, Designer handbag, etc.
- Look out for are spelling mistakes the website www.fatfingers.co.uk was designed for just this.
- Think about using a snipe - www.auctionlotsnipe.com is really good for making bids in the last seconds of an auction, this often saves you money.
- Also use a cashback website such as www.topcashback.co.uk - this is a recent find for me and I cannot believe I get money for buying things I would have bought anyway.
As I said it can be a complicated business if you are after a bargain but honestly even with millions of people looking it can be done!
I don't want to offend anyone here (on only my second post) but I have come to the conclusion that most dress agencies are miserable, over stuffed, over priced places to go! This is mainly due to one that used to be in Leeds but I have been to Cheshire, Manchester and London ones and must say that there is a distinct lack of friendliness in the vast majority of them. Being the intrepid bargain hunter I am though I choose to ignore this fact and carry on regardless. I must warn you though that I use the word bargain in relation to original price for items, you still have to part with decent money to get these goods. For example I got a Lanvin dress from a place in Manchester for £200 (after some bartering) but the original price was about £1000. So if you have £20 in your pocket these places are not worth the journey but if you are looking for designer investments (The Lanvin is a friend for life) then go have a look.