It’s a challenge to find a good second-hand store. Part of my Clothing Challenge this year will be exploring the stores and writing about what I find.

Second-hand stores can be overwhelming, especially if you have never been to one. Don’t let the first time, scare you away. Some second-hand stores may be full of clutter,  unorganized, and claustrophobic, which is makes it unappealing and difficult to shop. Even so, if you dig a little, sometimes you can make a lucky discovery. On the other hand, when you find the great second-hand stores, you will find organization, cleanliness, excellent customer-service and lots of treasures! I will tell you an important secret – every single second-hand store is different and unique.

In high school and in college, I’ve worked at a few second-hand stores. I understand the challenges in receiving new items and being able to get them onto the floor in a timely manner. At the used bookstore I worked at, whenever we’d get the latest books, we’d feel the need to get those onto the sales floor right away. We didn’t want to miss the opportunity for a sale. But, this thought-process sometimes backfired because we’d still have stacks and stacks of books that didn’t sell and the store would become cluttered. When the store was cluttered, customers didn’t feel like browsing or sifting through the items. I feel the same when I go to a second-hand store that has bins of clothes. I don’t want to stick my hand into the bin and pull out a nasty surprise.

These are the following pointers to keep in mind when shopping at a second-hand store.

1) Items in Mind – don’t walk in without preparation. Second-hand stores can be overwhelming. Have a few key items in mind that you want to look for and stick to it. The jean jacket has been on my list, but it only took me two stores to find it. If you don’t find what you are looking for, don’t give up.

2) Good Browsing Ability – Organization – can you visually see where the women’s and men’s sections are located? Do they have a juniors and misses section? Bonus! Are the clothes organized by color? Extra Bonus!

3) Allow Yourself Time – give yourself extra time to shop because part of browsing will be finding new items that you love. Also, keep in mind that the items you see today will probably be gone tomorrow.

4) Carry Cash – If you are like most people, you don’t carry cash. For second-hand stores, I recommend having at least $20 in cash. Most of the stores I have been to accept credit/debit cards and checks, but carry extra cash, just in case. You’d hate to spend all that time finding treasures and then leaving empty-handed because you couldn’t pay.

5) Bring a Fun Friend – A friend will help search for items for you and for them. This could save time and effort, but it always makes a good conversation later about what you found.

the author

Originally from Virginia, Jennifer C. Sellers is passionate about sustainability and conservation in South Carolina and throughout the world. She earned her BA in English from Coastal Carolina University and her MAS in Environmental Policy and Management from the University of Denver. She is a university sustainability coordinator that implements programs and teaches people about going green and being sustainable. Follow her on Twitter @MyGreenGlasses

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  1. NC-BFF on January 9, 2011

    I got to be the 1st fun friend!

  2. Jennifer on January 9, 2011

    You sure did!!! My Goodwill store post will appear in a week or so 🙂

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