Fall Staples to Buy Second Hand


A new season is just around the corner and that means your checkbook is going to hurt unless you know a secret — fall is one of the best seasons to save money by buying staples secondhand.

As kids are getting ready to head back to school and the holidays loom, overstuffed closets are being cleaned out in your own neighborhood right now. Last year’s clothing and a volley of household goods are being donated to thrift stores by cash-strapped families that then head to the mall to drop big bucks on new stuff. It doesn’t have to be!

School Supplies

Last year’s backpacks and lunch boxes fill thrift stores every summer. Buy your small school supplies at the department store where they’re sold at less than wholesale prices to lure you in, but skip the trip down the aisle where the pricey character-driven accessories live. Instead, investigate thrift stores where you’ll find timeless items in great condition at a fraction of the cost.

Winter Wear

A chill will be in the air soon and that’s when retailers know they can pry money out of seasonal shoppers’ wallets with new coats and winter accessories. The bad news for retail is that shopping for a pre-owned coat while the temperatures are still soaring is a better way to score a great deal.

While the mall shops are marking down bikinis and beach totes to make room for new stock, thrift stores have a broad selection of four-season merchandise year-round. There’s always some seasonal element to what’s in stock, but the odds of finding ski togs in August are still good.

What’s even better is that a proportion of expensive winter wear was worn for only one season — maybe less as kids grows out of them at the speed of light. Accessories like scarves, hats and gloves can often be found with the tags still on. These are popular holiday gift items, but often leave appreciative recipients wondering what to do with one head and ten wool hats. Their donation solution is your big break.

Sporting Goods

Nothing hurts a parents’ ears more than hearing their kids say “I want to play —“ followed by whatever sport they didn’t play last year. That means a big expenditure on new sporting equipment and accessories like specialty footwear.

The good news is that this year’s budget nightmare for you was someone else’s last year and chances are your neighbors have already donated what you need. Balls, bats, skates and protective gear are popular pre-owned finds.

Fitness Equipment

The end of summer is far removed from last January when everyone’s thoughts were on losing holiday pounds. Fitness equipment like treadmills and weights are joining the ranks of gently used items found not only at thrift stores, but also at sports-focused resale outlets where you’ll get what you need for half the retail price while benefitting from knowledgeable staff that can help you make purchase decisions.

Buying from a thrift store that specializes in sports gear improves your odds of getting high-quality equipment that hasn’t been abused or recalled by the manufacturer. These shops typically purchase items from the public instead of getting them via donation and they don’t pay for anything that isn’t safe.

Holiday Décor

Holiday décor is a frequent impulse purchase that makes its way to thrift stores having had little or no use. People with big decorating dreams simply run out of time and energy to create elaborate displays between shopping and baking and their loss is your gain.

Like-new items from Christmas trees and Easter baskets to Halloween goblins and Thanksgiving centerpieces come in an abundance of styles and if you’re lucky, you can snag a special vintage piece that will help you set the stage for an extraordinary holiday wonderland.


It’s only natural to think of replacing pastel dinnerware with rich fall colors when the temperatures dip, but why do it at full price? Used plates, mugs, bowls and coordinating accessories crowd thrift store shelves and if you’re adventurous, you can create a one-of-a-kind, color-coordinated look without having to buy a complete set of dishes that match.

Start with the basics you have at home, and then look for top-quality designer pieces in colors and patterns that complement them. Bring it all together with tablecloths or large serving pieces in neutral colors that help different tones blend seamlessly. There’s something special to setting a table with unique pieces that no one’s seen anywhere else and it’s a great conversation starter.

Professional Clothing

Office wear is less trendy than other clothing and an excellent selection of basics is always available. Stretch your wardrobe by choosing warm weather garb that can be paired with sweaters and jackets in the fall and winter. Buy timeless pieces in neutral colors — then splurge on a special top or skirt that just makes you feel happy to wear. You shopped smart, so you can afford it.


Michael Kors calls accessories the exclamation point on a great outfit. To stand out as your office’s resident fashionista, take advantage of thrift store prices on the unique bags, jewelry and scarves that make a good ensemble look amazing.

Shopping thrift store accessories is like looking for treasure. Between the usual offerings, you’ll find luxurious high-end wallets, fanciful headscarves, designer pendants and surprising pieces from around the world that no one else owns. Look for distinctive accessories that have stories to tell and let your imagination go wild.


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