How To Shop Pre-Loved

Shopping pre-loved isn’t just about saving money, although that’s often a nice benefit. It’s also about sustainability and often about getting something unique or at least unusual. There are lots of good reasons to buy pre-loved as much as you can. Here are some tips to help you grab the best bargains and make the most of your money.

Be strategic

If you go into a supermarket without a shopping list, you can quickly end up with a trolley full of impulse purchases. The same applies if you go hunting for pre-loved items without a clear idea of what it is you actually want.

Staying focused on your goal can also help guide you to the right place to find it. For example, general second-hand stores can be a lot of fun. If, however, you have a clear aim in mind, you’re probably better, or at least quicker, going to a more specialist outlet.

Research your sellers

When you’re buying pre-loved there are essentially three ways you can shop. These are:

  • Directly from a private seller
  • From a private seller on a sales platform
  • From a business seller

As a rule of thumb, if you’re making a significant purchase, you generally want to buy from a business. This gives you full consumer protection. For really significant purchases, ideally, you want to buy from a seller who goes over and above legal minimums.  

You can often find these sellers if you’re smart about your search queries. For example, instead of searching on just “Bentley Used” try “Bentley Approved Used”. Then do some more digging into the seller’s background. In particular, look at how long they’ve been trading and what kind of reputation they have.

For lower-cost items, it can be fine to buy directly from a private seller. Just make sure that you check the item thoroughly before you part with any money, especially if you’re paying cash (or bank transfer). Remember, with person-to-person pre-loved sales, the rule is “let the buyer beware”.

Sales platforms are a bit of a middle ground. You do get some consumer protection, but it’s still advisable to be on the cautious side. In simple terms, the more you’re paying, the more you should pay attention to seller feedback.

Be patient

Possibly the single, biggest difference between buying pre-loved and buying new is that you have to work with what there is. In other words, you can’t just decide what you need and hunt around the internet to see who has it in stock. You may have to wait a long time before the perfect item becomes available and when it does you’d better be ready to move quickly.

Know what you really want

You can make your life a lot easier if you’re clear about what’s a must-have and what’s a nice-to-have. For example, your ideal purchase might be a cognac leather desk chair. You might, however, be quite happy with a leather desk chair in another colour.

Similarly, decide whether or not you want a pre-loved purchase you can use straight away or whether you’re prepared to allow time and money for repairs. There’s no “right or wrong” about this. In fact, you might even come to different conclusions for different purchases.