Genue Inc.
December 15, 2019

Secondhand Shopping 101

secondhand shopping

via Ecouterre


When I first started learning about the harmful practices of the fashion industry, I felt a bit paralyzed. It seemed like the only way to combat fast fashion was to purchase clothing from ethical designers who were way, way, way outside of my budget. In addition to making more ethical shopping choices, I recently learned that secondhand shopping can be a great alternative. Thankfully, it has become infinitely easier thanks to the internet, and I’m here to share my favorite apps and tips for secondhand shopping online.


  1. eBay

The vastness of eBay can definitely be overwhelming, but the quantity of goods on the site is unparalleled. eBay only takes a small portion if you’re selling, and they walk you through the steps of setting up a great listing. Items are for sale for varying lengths of time, and the seller chooses to either allow interested parties to bid, or they can set a “Buy It Now” price where you can purchase instantly.


Ease of use: Very. Use search bars, filters, and recommendations to find exactly what you’re looking for.


Best for: discontinued, vintage, or sold out goods. Regret purchasing a bag or dress from a previous season that’s no longer sold in stores? You might be surprised at what the eBay gods can deliver!


Room for improvement: eBay works best when you know exactly what you’re looking for—it isn’t great for just browsing. Sellers can also pay to “promote” their items for sale, which means you might see the same promoted item over again while searching.


Favorite features: the ability to bid on items sometimes allows you to get a great deal on an item. Additionally, seller rankings allow you to have a clear picture of who you’re buying from, and what you can expect in a selling interaction. eBay’s customer support is also incredibly responsive and helpful if you do run into (the occasional) issue.



2. Poshmark

Similar to eBay, Poshmark is a buying and selling app that, although they take a bit more of the sellers cut (20%), shipping is not deducted from the buyer, and is always a flat rate for the buyer. The inventory is insanely expansive, and it’s great for both browsing (ie. Searching “black leather jacket”) or for finding exactly what you’re looking for (“Michael KORS luggage espadrille sandals”). I use this app most as both a buyer and a seller.


Ease of use: once you get the hang of using the filters, it’s very easy to use.


Best for: both for browsing, as some sellers can set up virtual boutiques, as well as for finding specific items at discounted rates.


Room for improvement: buyers are not obligated to leave feedback for sellers, so it’s difficult to know the quality of the seller you are buying from. Postings don’t “expire” or run out of time like they do on other sites, which means sellers may be unresponsive if they’re not regularly checking the app, which can be frustrating as a buyer.


Favorite features: most sellers give discounts if you purchase multiple items from their closet, and you only pay one price for shipping. I also love the ability to make offers and bargain directly with sellers.



3. ThredUp

Unlike eBay and Poshmark, ThredUp photographs, prices and sells all received goods on their own platform run by ThredUp the company.  If you’re in need of a closet cleanout, ThredUp will send you a cleanout kit—a large mailable bag featuring a pre-paid postage stamp. Send your clothes, and ThredUp will pay you for the items you keep and resell and either send you back (for a fee) your extra clothes, or donate/recycle them (for free). Then you can shop heavily discounted goods all in one place, and receive shipping on orders over $79.


Ease of use: it’s very easy to both sell your clothes to ThredUp and very easy to browse and shop on their site.


Best for: bulk secondhand shopping. If there’s multiple items you want, you don’t have to make individualized purchases and pay shipping for each item like you do on Poshmark and eBay. While their inventory is not quite as expansive, items are priced beyond reasonably.


Room for improvement: ThredUp does not offer much for the clothing they buy from you, so don’t get your hopes up when trying to sell.  The turnaround period between them receiving your clothes and getting processed/paid can also take a long time.


Favorite features: low prices! While I can’t always find what I’m looking for specifically, the prices on their items cannot be beat. This means checking in more frequently with their stock, but if you’re persistent, you can score some great deals.


If you’re also looking for ways to be more mindful with your clothing, here’s a great piece about inspirational re-use, Japanese Boro Clothing, and giving old clothing new life.

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