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Buying Secondhand Is Both Smart & Stylish

Buying Secondhand Is Both Smart
& Stylish

The 10 things you
should always buy used

What to buy secondhand

Developing your personal style is both an art and a science. You've only got so much money, right? And you've only got so much space for the things you buy yourself. So you've got to be smart about your purchases to get the most from them. If you're a regular reader of Valet., then you know we often stress the idea of not always buying more but buying better. Items that are impactful, that make your life a little easier or simply improve your style or the aesthetics of the world around you. And one of the easiest ways to do this, while also spending less money overall, is to buy things secondhand.

Of course, there's an inherent thrill of walking into a store and pulling some new item off the rack and buying it. The allure of the latest drop or new release can be tempting, but there's a certain magic in finding that perfect vintage piece or scoring a high-end find at a fraction of the retail price. It's a real rush to unearth an item that's clearly got value, but you've found it for less than you expect. And this is also how you curate a wardrobe and a home that tells your story—each piece comes with its own history, adding authentic depth and character to your personal style.

What's more, it's never been easier to hunt for secondhand items. And these are not castoffs or bargain-bin items. The online “recommerce” ecosystem is now full of premium, quality goods at a price and, at times, convenience, rivaling your handy Amazon Prime account. More than half of Americans now say that shopping secondhand is a lifestyle choice for them, driven by a desire to “save money, be more sustainable or find unusual and interesting items,” according to GlobalData, a market research firm that worked with Mecari on their 2023 Reuse Report [PDF]. With more and more people choosing to buy and sell secondhand, the reuse market is expected to grow by an estimated 87% to $325 billion by 2031. Here are the ten items every guy should consider buying used.

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What to Buy
Secondhand

Luggage

Sure, you could get a brand-new piece of luggage. Fresh, and sparkling clean, you'll pack it and hand it to the airline, who will promptly toss it onto a dirty conveyor belt, into a big metal cart and then pushed and stacked inside the belly of the plane. It's not emerging unblemished after all that. Which is why buying an already used suitcase (in working order, of course) is a smart move. It's already taken some abuse, so you're not worried about a little dent or scratch. Plus, luggage with a few scars is the mark of a well-traveled man. This is why brands such as Rimowa are now selling repaired suitcases—complete with dings and stickers from past adventures. What's more, the average piece of “re-crafted” luggage rings in at around $584, compared to its lowest-priced new sibling at $1,425.

Shop re-crafted luggage
at Rimowa

Watches

Truly one of our favorite things to buy secondhand. Timepieces are something that should have a little history, right? Plus, you can often find a truly unique used watch from a prestige brand for the same cost or less as a brand-new option from a standard brand. The secondhand market is also where you'll find discontinued models and watches from brands that are currently having trouble maintaining inventory (looking at you Rolex). And now there are multiple pre-owned platforms such as Crown & Caliber, Chrono24 and Watchbox to help you securely buy quality used watches online and have them shipped right to your door.

Pre-owned Speedster watch,
$3,500 by Omega

Furniture

There are plenty of fine and easily accessible options from big box stores, catalogs or specialty retailers named after Barns or Barrels. But for a handful of items, you should aim to buy secondhand, because they're just better if they're a little lived-in already. They're unlike anything else and they imbibe your place with a little history. Items like rugs or small tables. Some pieces, like lamps, can be oddly expensive when purchased at full retail price—find a secondhand one on sale, and you could save hundreds of dollars. As for where to look, eBay remains a treasure trove, but Chairish is another large marketplace, while Kaiyo offers great deals on high-end items.

George Nelson Sling loveseat,
$8,000 / $2,116 by Herman Miller

Small Tech

After losing my AirPods (again), I decided I couldn't drop another $250 on those damn earbuds. But I wasn't going to go without, either. I looked into secondhand options and found that you can get nearly new versions, completely refurbished, tested and professionally cleaned, for about almost half the cost. They come with everything but the Apple box and work like new ones. The same goes for cameras and other small tech items. Why buy new when you can go secondhand and roll the savings into a nice case or other accessory?

Refurbished AirPods Pro
(2nd generation),
$163.95 by Apple

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Leather Goods

Leather is an interesting material. When brand new, it almost looks ... cheap. But when worn-in, beat-up and slightly damaged, it looks a whole lot more interesting. That's the nature of “patina”. According to the luxury resale company Vestiaire Collective, its sales of items in “good” or “fair” condition are way up over the past year. “Good” and “fair” are the company's lowest-quality categories. That's because there's a real IDGAF energy in a leather item with some real wear on it. It shows that you don't take it too seriously or treat this item too precious. After all, there's nothing cool about worrying about keeping your bag or shoes in perfect condition all the time. But since most people still want to try to buy their used goods in near-perfect condition, you can often get a great deal on items with a few dings or scuffs.

Voyage leather bag,
$438.90 by Louis Vuitton

Denim

Jeans are one item that will always look better when they're older. It's why the coolest guys in menswear almost exclusively buy vintage denim. Even pairs that are a few years old have a certain look and feel. They hang on the body differently, they have a soft washed-out color, and they're just ... better. Of course, there plenty of expensive vintage jeans out there. But there are also easy ways to pick up a few pairs for less than one regular full-price pair of new jeans today. Head to you local thrift store, set up an alert for your desired size on eBay and check in with online retailers like Levi's popular Secondhand shop.

550 relaxed jean,
$78 by Levi's

Workout Gear

We're not telling you to buy used gym shorts or sneakers. Those are items you want to pick up fresh. But something like dumbbells? No need to pay the full retail price, which is often surprisingly expensive. The same goes for any other exercise equipment. Especially when resale sites are chockfull of options that people tried and gave up on. Check out retailers like Play It Again Sports or Global Fitness to find used, intact sporting goods that can be shipped directly to you. And this is a great category for Facebook Marketplace, where you could find someone in your area willing to give it away for free, as long as you'll come pick it up.

GX Studio rowing machine,
$795 by WaterRower

Tools

Much like luggage or jeans, when the item in question is something that you plan to beat the hell out of, there's no need to buy it brand new. That pristine condition is going to get ruined the first time you use it, so save yourself the stress and the money by purchasing it used at a great discount. Hand tools are the perfect example of this. With some luck on Facebook Marketplace or even garage sales, you can often find amazing deals on gently used tools secondhand. It's best to ask if you can test the item or plug it in if it's a power tool. Make sure it has all the necessary parts and examine the power cord closely to make sure that it is working properly and doesn't have any defects. Keep in mind that many brands like Craftsman offer great warranties for any repairs and replacements, too.

Small Appliances

One of our editors was lusting after a $800 espresso machine for two years running and lamenting over the high price tag until someone casually mentioned, “why not look online for a used one.” He found one via Facebook Marketplace being sold for $100. He offered $75 and they accepted his bid. The wild thing? It was only used a handful of times, so it was basically brand new. They even had the box and all the instructions and papers. You'll want to ensure that whatever you're buying is in good, working condition, but you can really save serious cash on these purchases when you buy secondhand.

Remanufactured
Barista Express machine,
$499.99 by Breville

Books

Whether you're a voracious reader or simply looking for books to fill a shelf in your living room, buying used is an easy way to score a product that doesn't lose much value after it's been used a few times. Remember your college text books? There are big savings to be had when skipping retail. And thankfully, there are all sorts of local independent shops or online resources available, like ThriftBooks and SecondSale.

FYI

The surge in e-commerce has flooded the market with unsold inventory and returns. According to the Economist, only about 8% of goods bought in a physical store are returned, but more than 20% of items bought online are sent back.

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