Gently used. Pre-owned. Vintage. When it comes to second-hand goods, sellers use a lot of adjectives to dress them up. However, these days, no matter what you call them, BARGAINS are hot sellers! According to USA Today, we’re all looking for ways to cut spending. So, more and more people are scooping up low-cost clothes, accessories, toys and furniture once owned by someone else.

Adele Meyer, executive director of the National Association of Resale & Thrift Shops, says although she’s sad about the economic situation, it’s a good time for their industry. 75% of resale stores had higher sales in September and October this year than they did during the same period last year. The average increase was an impressive 35%. While economic troubles are spurring secondhand sales, experts say the appeal goes beyond “bargain hunting.” Some buyers like the feeling of social responsibility that comes with buying “recycled” goods, while others pride themselves on uncovering unique, “vintage” outfits.  

Myrna Skoller owns Designer Resale Consignment on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. She says her shoppers brag about getting used merchandise at a good price. It’s almost a status symbol to score something cheaper. In a recent survey from Harris Interactive, 70% of adults said that buying “pre-owned” items is more socially acceptable now than it was 5 or 10 years ago. So, where are shoppers scooping up used goods?

  • First there’s eBay. Nearly 4% of people surveyed shop at eBay on a regular basis, up from 2% a year ago.
  • Flea markets. A customer’s ability to haggle over price is a big draw. If people believe that they have some control over the cost of something, it feels like more of a bargain.
  • Yard sales have also become very popular. For instance, the city of San Antonio sold over 54,000 yard-sale permits for its fiscal year that ended in September – almost double the amount from last year.
  • Thrift stores. The Thrift Store Association expects December to be a great month for their industry. At one time, no one shopped resale stores for gifts. However, that’s not true anymore. So if you want to give your wallet a break, go ahead and hit Goodwill for a little holiday shopping.