Sourcing & Planning

Why I Buy Things Secondhand

February 23, 2022

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Thrifting is a really fun activity that a lot of people have been doing for a long time, and a lot more people have been doing for a short time. (Especially since it’s the only thing in stock right now—ha!)

People are catching on that there are great secondhand things to find and buy! Where we lived in Idaho, there weren’t great thrifting options. Even Facebook Marketplace was sparse. We had a couple antique stores, but now that I’m on the other side of it, I realize what I was missing out on! I’m now really sensitive to people that are living in thrifting black-holes because that was once me! Times are different now, and I’ll be honest… I didn’t really get thrifting before but I get it now!

Table | Hanging Lantern | Tree Art

I’m so in love with these chairs I found for the dining room. The wood is so hunky and charming, I could die! Shopping on our local Marketplace has opened up a floodgate of vintage options, whereas I used to rely on pieces that would ship to me before. I still ship things from Marketplace, and sites like Chairish and 1stDibs. All great options if your left empty-handed shopping locally. I’m also sensitive to the fact that there are many reasons why people would buy secondhand, and I think they’re worth talking about!

1. Secondhand can be less expensive

Chris and I have bought many things secondhand because of our budget. Buying brand new pieces, especially furniture can be expensive and isn’t always budget friendly. There’s honestly no shame, and I think really beautiful pieces can be found at a killer price!

2. Unique and one-of-a-kind pieces

Less about the price, and more about the thrill of the hunt. You can find really unique, thrifted pieces that tell a story and people will ask, “Where did you get that?” “Oh, it’s thrifted,” meaning, good luck finding a piece just like this! I love sharing with all of you and I think there’s a camaraderie around all of us buying a lot of the same pieces, but sometimes it’s nice to have something that’s just mine. I’m sure you can all relate to that! Having something that’s so exclusive it’s hard to come across.

3. Sustainability and eco-conscious

When you buy something secondhand, you cut down on the amount of natural resources being used, and the amount of energy and pollution being emitted. This is a trait I really honor and value in others and a mindset I’m trying to adopt. There’s a lot of good quality furniture that could be re-homed, rather than buying something new!

I don’t buy everything secondhand. That’s not my goal, and there’s so many people doing that really well. I have thrifted a few things this year that mean so much to me and feel like I’m onto something. Not everyone is in the same position and not everyone does this for the same reason, but all are valid and meaningful. Why do you buy things secondhand?

What do you think?

  1. Alexandria says:

    Aw I absolutely love this post! I’m so happy to see more people taking a more sustainable approach to home decor – and you’re absolutely right, there’s so much good stuff out there! Love you guys!

  2. Jane Hopey says:

    I have seven go to second hand stores in Charlotte where I shop for unique finds. I also enjoy the hunt and I am amazed at the great finds in the Charlotte area. Some of the stores are antique warehouses in Belmont, second hand stores in Pineville and Lake Norman. Also watch for Facebook finds. Would love to go shopping with you someday.

  3. Cait says:

    I have always bought secondhand because I love the hunt and it fit my budget! In the last few years I’ve been very focused on zero waste efforts to combat the climate crisis so I try to always look for things secondhand first. I feel proud when I look around a room or down at my outfit and see I bought it all secondhand! I didn’t need a store marketing to me what was “in-style” I was true to my gut and honed in on a style that is uniquely me

  4. Stacey says:

    Quality honestly. I have been searching for years for chairs for our living room that we basically treat as a hallway. Finally, finally this week I found perfect vintage chairs. Two chairs for essentially the price of one new one that is unlikely to last 10 years. Solid wood base! I am thrilled with the find and so happy no one snatched them up before I could get to the thrift store.

  5. Haggi says:

    I had a moment (or 10) of confusion here but I guess it’s because we grew up buying used furniture or bikes or things we needed so it’s never Not been part of my thinking? Parents had not much money with several kids so mom went to Veterans Thrift and an auction that took place near us every Saturday. Now this was a few decades ago so—it was a livestock auction for the ranchers (California) and also many antiques dealers had tables & you could rent a table sell dishes or boots bikes lamps clothes. In today’s jargon: a flea market. But. Today’s flea markets have a ton of cheap stuff new from China. This was not that. It was huge and the best stuff, cool used things great vintage.
    Mom would have passed out at the idea of spending many dollars on a brand new table when she could load up a used one for pennies. And once kids outgrew bunk beds or bikes, shoes or toys, she rented a shady table space and sold the stuff for a profit.
    I can afford most things I want new but why?? If I find a vintage writing desk on FB Marketplace for $100, (last month! Gorgeous!) and later I want something different I don’t need to worry about changing it out. If you attend a garage sale and ask the price of a dresser and the person says it’s $300…”because I paid $550 for it last year!” Then you get what I’m talking about. I may like your dresser but I don’t care what YOU paid…I want to pay $75.
    Back in these ancient times when the Beatles were still together, we didn’t call it thrifting or Eco-friendly or chic. It’s what you needed to do. It was also fun.

  6. Jen says:

    We have four kids and so aside from budgetary concerns, I find that I am much more relaxed when it comes to the inevitable “patina” that they add to everything and I don’t get upset about scratches and dings as I do when I have bought new/paid retail.

  7. C Petry says:

    YES!!! Very excited to see sustainability, conscientious purchasing and earth friendly choices being brought to light here! I’ve noticed myself shying away from the world of social media in the past few years due largely to the extreme focus on consumerism and the materialistic mindset. I LOVE seeing more bloggers and influencers bringing attention to this alternative way of spending valuable resources. Good for you, team Marcum! 🙌🏻

    • Allison says:

      Amen to this! Sustainability is my primary reason for thrifting and it’s hard to see design blogs not talking about it. This is a great step! Facebook Marketplace is amazing and for all the locals, Dorcas in Cary is the best thrift store (with the weirdest name).

    • Alexandria says:

      Yes yes yes 💕

  8. Rebecca says:

    Am I the only one that doesn’t know how to navigate FB marketplace? I’m not on FB regularly and need to look up a tutorial. OfferUp is more on my IQ level.

  9. Amanda says:

    Thrifted decor and furniture has become a big part of our new home! We moved twice during the pandemic, but had started selling most of our furniture before we had initially moved (way before there were any supply chain issues). Moving into a new home in the middle of a lockdown, forced me to be savvy about designing and decorating our home. The thrill of the hunt is so rewarding! I’d recommend checking insta for pre loved furniture sellers, they don’t have the traditional antique storefront, but typically do “drops”, and typically you can snag amazing pieces for a really great price! I’ve snagged a gorgeous 2pc travertine coffee table, a brass Thomas O’Brien chandelier for $50! Along with many pieces of furniture, lamps and decor that I’ve transformed with some great DIY’s! I love pieces with history, and I feel my home has so much more character now than it ever has in the past.

  10. Ashley S. says:

    This is something that’s been on my mind lately since I live in one of these black hole areas. Haha. There are a few things on my shopping list that I would love to antique, purely from an aesthetic point of view. This post gives me new hope that if I can be patient I’ll find the things I’m looking for. It reminds me of another post where you talk about not buying things as placeholders and waiting for the thing that really fits and can have a permanent place in your home.

    You brought up a lot of good points about different reasons for thrifting and there’s a few more in the comments. While everyone has a right to their opinion it’s important to remember the fact that this is what Julia does for a living…so naturally she buys more furniture and decor than the rest of us. We can’t all be fabulous interior designers, and the environment is better off for it.

  11. Lia says:

    Quality, quality, quality. Things just aren’t made as well anymore – or if they are they are very expensive. The quality you can get for the price is incomparable.

  12. Hannah Gokie says:

    Thrifting hits the sweet spot of being spending money + a fun game/hobby for me — that’s really why I keep doing it! I don’t have a ton of other hobbies but I am always entertained walking through an antique store or a thrift store, scrolling FB, etc. I like knowing I’m saving something from the landfill, too!

  13. Karen says:

    I like to thrift to find items with history to include into my home. My military family moved a lot and had no old family pieces to hand down. But I bought an old pub table that my Mom said was a lot like one she grew up with, a quarter sawn oak dresser for a changing table that my Daddy said looked like he had. I added horse brasses to expand the collection from my Mom’s side of the family.

    It’s also a great way to add less expensive art and frames. I have old maps that start conversations, “Why are there two Germanys?” & “Look at all the British colonies!” (I have an embarrassing amount of old globes)

    And of course you can get great bargains! I bought a $30 armchair as a placeholder until I one day find the “perfect” recliner that doesn’t look like a recliner. It’s so comfortable that probably will remain unless one of my daughters nab it!

  14. Deb says:

    We love shopping second hand for all of the reasons you list. It makes your space more eclectic and unique. And adds to a loved in feel. The only caution would be the risk of bed bugs in upholstered pieces.

  15. Amanda says:

    I buy a lot of accent pieces that are antique for the character and charm. I also LOVE and am always on the hunt for vintage mini glass Christmas ornaments and antique cookie cutters. I have a Christmas tree in an antique crock in my kitchen that I decorate with these and cranberry linen ribbon that is one of my favorite things. I hate putting it up each year! I keep antique wood rolling pins in the crock the rest of the year. I love the thrill of the hunt!

  16. Amanda V says:

    The biggest reason: the story behind those antique, vintage pieces. Owning a piece of history. Remembering who you were with, where you were, how excited you were, touching it and feeling the craftsmanship, and seeing it complete a space in my home. The collection of these pieces has easily created such a feeling and depth to our home.

  17. patricia says:

    I’ve bought second hand ever since I discovered antique auctions (now no longer a thing). I’ve bought armoires (fantastic storage with so much style), table and chairs, lamps (sometimes I rewire them), and dressers. I don’t buy upholstered furniture used, unless I plan to reupholster.
    I just get cool pieces with a fun story to them.

  18. I will forever shop secondhand! I love it so much and you can find things so much cheaper or things that aren’t even made anymore!

  19. Susan says:

    The biggest problem with ordering new items is packaging. You may think all of the boxes, plastic, packing material is recyclable, but a lot of it actually ends up in a landfill. I challenge anyone to actually keep track for a whole month of everything you have shipped to your house and actually look at how massive the pile of packaging is. It came from somewhere and it has to land somewhere. I live close enough to a landfill that I can drive by and see how much taller “garbage mountain” has become since I moved here 20 years ago and it’s sobering. I thrift because I like the reduced impact on the environment AND because it slows down my consumption and the need to order XYZ and have it on my door step tomorrow. It takes longer to find household items and clothing, and usually in the thrill of the hunt I discover I no longer want or need XYZ. I also found out my stress level has gone down as as I have less items to manage and maintain. It’s a lifestyle and mindset shift but it frees up so much life space to pursue other things because I spend so much less time shopping.

    • C Petry says:

      Totally this. It IS a huge mindset and lifestyle switch but one that is so worth the rewards. My journey toward this started years ago with just committing to a one month spending fast, and I was shocked at the immediate results I saw in my time, finances, contentment, stress, etc! The shift can be life changing! Thank you for commenting on it. ❤️

  20. Rebecca says:

    I love the hunt and love having a story surrounding pieces I’ve thrifted whether locally or on trips. I don’t want my house looking like a garage sale, nor do I want it looking like anyone else’s. So, it’s always fun when I find higher end thrift shops with good deals. I’m on a budget. I’ve always decorated using my grocery budget (sorry kids), except for large items. Love having original art and high end furniture and my home feeling collected & not being the oldest thing in my house.

  21. Laurel says:

    Hi! We love buying secondhand. Have you gone to auctions? My husband and I go to farm auctions as often as we can, and it’s a great shared hobby. The things we get have character and stories behind them. Sometimes we get fine antiques, sometimes a pitcher or vase, sometimes it’s something we re-purpose. Many times we just have a fun day together. I keep track of all of our experiences in an auction journal that we can read in the winter during the times when the weather keeps us at home. Auctions are family friendly fun too! You can find local auctions at the AuctionZip app. I hope you give them a try.

  22. Suzanne says:

    Hmmmm, I agree that second hand is a fabulous way to reduce reuse recycle, however I think better examples of this are buying second hand things locally, where you can actually see them in person and get an idea of how the will fit in your space – as some of you recent purchases exemplify, scale is important and sometimes can not be fully evaluated when assessing something online. You live in a state that is very well known for producing furniture -it seems like you would have ample second hand and antique establishments (these two are different) right in your area, within easy driving distance, however almost all of the things you buy are from far away (sometimes very far away) and require shipping thousands of miles, like the dining room chairs which are actually a relatively common reproduction style that is often found in second hand stores in your state (I grew up right outside of Raleigh and my parents still live there). I would love to see posts about your in person experiences going to second hand or antique store for finds in your area!

    • We have actually purchased SEVERAL things locally on marketplace since moving here–and shared it many times on stories. But this post also highlights that that isn’t the ONLY reason to buy second hand. Getting a unique piece for our home is also fun for me and sometimes that brings me to other resources.

  23. Tiffany says:

    I’ve loved thrifting ever since I was a kid (7 is the age of my first memory being excited to go to the thrift store). I do it for all of the reasons you mentioned but another is that many thrift organizations support great causes. One of my faves gives 100% of its profits to men and women trying to overcome addiction. Love that I can be a small part of that!

  24. Jane says:

    Given the amount and kind of products you consume and promote I’m not convinced sustainability is actually thoroughly considered.

    • As it is mentioned in the post–that’s one reason someone buys secondhand, but there are many reasons!

    • A says:

      Honestly I never do this (reply to rude people on the internet) but this is a pet peeve of mine so here goes. People do not have to be “all or nothing”. Considering that you are posting to the internet, something tells me you yourself are not living out in the woods off the land producing no waste. No one is perfect, so what the the point of attacking people (strangers!) for trying to do even a little bit of a good thing? It’s ok to do a Meatless Monday if you can’t commit to full vegan. It’s okay to use a reusable straw even if you use plastic utensils. It’s okay to wear secondhand clothes but love buying new shoes. 90% of the pollution in this world comes from large corporations, we need to stop digging at people who aren’t doing as much as we think they “should” – because we aren’t perfect either. Everyone out there doing as much as you can right now – great job! Don’t measure yourself against anyone except your previous self.

      • Dawn says:

        Agreed. Not to mention the comment is written as if Jane did not read the post. There’s a clear sentence that reads that sustainability is a “mindset I’m trying to adopt”. Is that not transparent?

    • Kristen says:

      Also, Julia and Chris make a substantial amount of there income from promoting products. So unless you and everyone else who has ever read their blog, found inspiration in their posts or learned something from their DIYs want to pay every time you visit their site, let them continue to make a living for their family.

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