Buyer beware when it comes to preloved
Not to be a downer, but while the savings can be great, so can the risks. When you buy preloved there are no guarantees. That $25 television may not last that long and you really don't know where that unbelievably cheap diamond ring came from. The point is, you can't take it back if you're not satisfied, and yes, there just might be the odd bit of hot property for sale online.
And always and most important, put safety first. Making a private preloved purchase often requires meeting the vendor somewhere to check out or purchase the goods. If they are willing to come to you, great. If not, try to arrange a meeting in a public place. If the item, say a huge Persian rug, must be viewed in the vendor's home, ask a buddy to come along or bring your cell and call a friend as soon as you get there. Hey, better safe than sorry.
If it is a diamond ring you're looking at, ask to meet up at a jewelry store so you can have the authenticity and value verified. A car? Meet at your mechanic's, and for a piece of camera gear, get together at your local camera shop. Don't hand any cash over until an expert of your choosing gives you the green light.
Where to shop for preloved
Visit the Salvation Army (www.salvationarmy.ca), Goodwill (www.goodwill.ca) and other charity-run secondhand shops. Not only will you find deals, you'll be doing a good deed, too. Sally Ann even offers click-and-print coupons on their website.
Value Village, aka VV Boutique (www.valuevillage.com) is a treasure trove of finds, though of late it seems their once-low prices have started to climb. Having said that, a bargain hunter with a good eye can still spot the deals.
Craigslist (www.geo.craigslist.org) and Kijiji (www.kijiji.ca) are two popular web classified sites where you can find your next car or your next date and everything in between. Another option is eBay ebay.ca, where you can still find great deals and not everything's sold in an auction.
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Habitat for Humanity runs a chain of shops called ReStore where they sell renovation materials, household decor items and appliances at deep discounts.
The sweetest, most satisfying preloved purchase anyone could ever make is a preloved pet. Visit your local humane society or animal shelter, or check online for rescues devoted to the critter or even the specific breed your heart may be set on. Adoption fees can be a couple of bucks for a guinea pig, up to a few hundred for a young, healthy, purebred pooch.
Antique fairs and shops, flea markets and junk and salvage shops can cost a tad more than the thrift shops, but if you're out in the country anyway, pop in for a look around. Sometimes the prices are rock bottom for fantastic, one-of-a-kind pieces that are full of history.
A chilly fall afternoon pawing through the shelves of a cosy secondhand bookstore is more than just bargain hunting; it can be a great first date or a relaxing way to while away the day. Vintage and hard-to-find rare editions can be found in shops or online.
Yard and estate sales are a nosey parker's dream come true. Who doesn't love poking around someone else's stuff or wandering through a stranger's home where everything is for sale? And since time is of the essence for most of these folks, the prices are right, and often get better as the day goes on. Check online or in your local paper for dates, times and addresses, but be prepared to get out of your cosy bed very early on a Saturday morning for the best finds.
Many specialty shops and businesses sell preloved and reconditioned items. Watch for special events such as once-a-year clear-outs by shoe repair shops or dry cleaners of items no one ever came to collect, or sales of refurbished units at electronics stores. A few cities across North America have TV and movie production houses that sell off props, furnishings and wardrobe items when the curtain falls.
The bottom line when it comes to preloved
Buying preloved is great for your bottom line and it's a great way to keep perfectly good stuff out of the landfills, get pets out of pounds and even help people back on their feet again. And don't forget, scouring thrift and antique shops is a little like playing the lottery: We've all heard about the lucky folks who come home with an original Group of Seven inside that $2 frame!
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