When it comes to buying clothes, toys, furniture and more, most of us buy them new, especially when it’s easy to visit your favorite local big-box store or order whatever you need in minutes from an online retailer.

But as shopping habits change and consumers focus more on sustainability and the environment, buying secondhand has returned to the spotlight. Buying secondhand provides a lot of benefits, but there are also a few disadvantages to consider. Let’s break down some of the common pros and cons of buying secondhand.

Pros of buying secondhand

Saving money

Spending less than retail on anything you buy always feels like a major score, doesn’t it? That’s probably why this is likely the most obvious advantage of buying secondhand. And when you consider Americans spend more than a trillion dollars annually on nonessential goods, those savings really start to add up.

Whether you’re shopping for clothes, furniture, electronics, jewelry, or musical instruments, you can find plenty of quality used items at lower prices than if you bought them new. In fact, you can easily find brand-name clothing, shoes, purses and more for a fraction of their retail cost. Some secondhand shops even specialize in selling gently loved luxury and designer goods at huge discounts.

Finding unique pieces

Let’s admit it – in thrift shopping, the thrill of the hunt is half the fun. You never know what you’ll find! From searching for a new date night outfit or a special piece of jewelry to quirky new furniture for your house, your next can’t-put-it-down read or entertainment for your family, you’ll find some unique, hard-to-find items hidden away on the shelves of your local pawn shop, vintage seller, or consignment boutique.

Most new products are mass-produced and readily available at multiple retailers. Everyone on your block could potentially have the exact same item. Who wants that? By comparison, secondhand items can become one-of-a-kind treasures, especially if you’re creative or want to explore some DIY projects. You can let your imagination go wild! Take that great armchair you found, give it new life with some paint, fabric or cool features, and now it’s the cool chair everyone talks about when they come over to visit.

Preserving natural resources

Each new product manufactured depletes some level of our natural resources. For instance, did you know it takes an average of 1,800 gallons of water to make a single pair of jeans?

Buying secondhand goods means the energy and natural resources that went into creating those goods have already been used. So, by opting for pre-owned items, you can extend their usefulness and reduce the strain on our environment and resources.

Reducing unnecessary packaging

Have you ever thought about all the extra cardboard, plastic, and packing materials that come with something you bought new? And of the aggravation of figuring out what to do with it all once you pull your item out of the box? In most households, especially in the U.S., most of that material gets chucked into the trash or recycling bin. However, most of the time it’s hard to really know which materials are truly recyclable. When you buy secondhand goods, you don’t have to deal with any of that unnecessary packaging that just gets thrown away.

Supporting the local economy

Whether you’re buying from your neighbor’s garage sale, a thrift store, your favorite local pawn shop or a vintage or consignment store, the dollars you spend stay in your community and are often reinvested in the local economy. Buying secondhand provides jobs and fuels small business growth in your neighborhood. Buying secondhand items locally also keeps billions of dollars from flowing out of the country for imported goods from other countries.

Cons of buying secondhand

No returns, warranties and guarantees

Secondhand items might develop defects or not function properly, and they can’t always be fixed. Some sellers may even refuse to accept returns once you’ve made your purchase, leaving you with a hole in your wallet and an item that doesn’t work. That’s why it always pays to do a little research and understand your local reseller’s shop policies.

Unlike buying at a flea market or an estate or garage sale, many pawn shops and vintage and consignment stores offer limited returns and warranties on items you purchase. Reputable pawn shops also test any items that come in to ensure they work properly before they even put them out on the sales floor.

Cleanliness and condition

When buying secondhand items, especially in the post-COVID era, you have no idea how the previous owner maintained or cleaned the item you’re about to purchase. If you’re buying online or from an unknown individual, you may also be unsure of the quality of the item they’re selling. There have been many cases and horror stories of online sellers misrepresenting the condition of their products, leaving buyers with no return options once they receive their item.

When you buy a previously owned item in person from a pawn shop, you can see exactly what condition it’s in before purchasing.

Decreased lifespan

When purchased from a reputable reseller, most previously owned items are usually durable. However, some items may not last as long as a brand new one. Before buying secondhand, make sure you’re aware of any potential damage your item has endured to determine whether it will last long once you walk out the door.

Seller scams

We all experience a little thrill when we buy expensive items. However, depending on where you shop or order your item, you may not be getting exactly what you expect. Trying to figure out the true value of an item may be difficult, especially if the seller claims there is no supporting paperwork or anything to verify the item’s authenticity, age or condition. However, pawn shop owners are always watching out for scams or fakes, even working with their local law enforcement to prevent theft and seller scams.

At Gene’s Jewelry & Pawn, we specialize in offering you the best prices for your items. For more than 30 years, we have provided our customers with the high level of service they deserve. Visit one of our locations in North Charleston, Moncks Corner or Goose Creek, SC, today!