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Get what you bargained for – 5 top tips for successful preloved shopping!

I would guess that we have all had a time when we have beendisappointed with something we have bought secondhand thinking we have bagged a bargain only to be landed with something long past its best! Whether it’s children’s clothes, a car, a book or a kitchen appliance there is always an element of not knowing 100% the quality or condition of what if going to turn up.

Let’s be honest Mr Twinkling Tiger still takes great pleasure reminding me about my bargain kitchen table that turned out to be a cheap Ikea table that had been painted and accompanied by badly marked plastic chairs!! I do think that despite some clangers though he has been forced to admit that my good purchases have far outweighed the bad!!

So for those people who have had a bad experience that has put them off, or for those friends who are still scarred by the 1980’s jumble sale experiences and think that secondhand clothes means a bit worn and grubby here are 5 tips to help increase the chance of making good purchases and convince them that preloved is the way to go!!

1) If you are using an online auction or marketplace then look for sellers with good feedback and ratings, sites like eBay, Vinted and Marketplace all offer ways of checking what other people have said about sellers and how good they are rated in terms of their products and service.

The same goes if you are shopping through an online shop, like Twinkling Tiger, or even a physical shop (now they are open again!)

Check out things like reviews on their website or Google and recommendations on their Facebook page. Also don’t forget to ask your own friends too, buying preloved clothes is becoming more and more popular and the choice of where to shop is getting bigger so if someone has had a good experience then hopefully they will be happy to share that with you.

2) If you are shopping online then look for good quality, detailed pictures what you are buying. Personally I always think if someone can’t be bothered to take a decent picture, or it looks like the clothes haven’t been ironed (and sometimes even washed!?!), then how likely is it that they will have been taken care of and are in good condition? I also look out for people using stock photos or duplicating other people’s pictures … never a good sign in my book, I want to see the actual item and also see pictures of any defects if there are any in the description. I don’t sell seconds clothes in the main Twinkling Tiger collections but the ‘Too Good to Throw’ bundles are all about selling clothes that have been on a lot of adventures and are showing signs of wear and so I am up front saying that they may have a bit more bobbling or a tiny mark or some faded seams but they definitely do have plenty of life left and this helps people know what to expect.

3) Don’t be worried about asking questions … if you are not sure about the colour in the picture or the size then any good seller (refer to the first tip!) will be happy to provide more information or more pictures. I know I always prefer my tops and jumpers to be a bit longer so sometimes I will ask for details about the length if that information hasn’t been provided in a listing. Think about asking about care instructions too if they have not been specified …. one of my age old mistakes is falling for a preloved item of clothing and getting it home only to realise it is hand wash only and I know I just do not have time in my world to be hand washing or dry cleaning clothes regularly. I therefore always try (try being the operative word!!) to remember to check or ask what the care instructions are so I don’t end up with a gorgeous item of clothing that is worn about once a year!

4) Check what the clothes are made of and what brand … it is much harder to get exceptionally good quality preloved supermarket items for instance (particularly jersey fabric ones such as t-shirts) as they tend to have been made cheaply, have had lots of wear and easily get mis-shapen through washing and drying. Don’t get me wrong, those gems are still out there and they do come in here at Twinkling Tiger and re-sell at great value but often they don’t make it through my quality checks due to bobbling, excessive wear or being out of shape.

It is far more likely that 100% cotton weave, denim and even viscose or synthetic fibres will retain their shape better and the higher end the brand the more likely it will have been made to last so will be a good buy. Buying preloved baby and childrenswear is a great opportunity to buy better quality clothes at a more affordable price point that will hopefully last as long as you need them to! At Twinkling Tiger all clothes listed on the website now include details of the fabric they are made from to help you build a picture of the look, feel and quality.

5) If you are after a bargain when you are shopping preloved then try shopping out of season for those growing up drawers. Many retailers (and parents!) will be trying to offload end of season stock and wardrobes and may have a sale or be happy to accept a lower price than in the few months pervious plus there won’t be as many people out looking and competing to buy the same.

Obviously if you are out buying in shops or markets then you have the advantage of immediate gratification plus being able to see the item, check things like care labels and give it a good once over to check for any damage or wear and tear however what you might miss out on is the amount of choice that you can get from online shops or sites … basically swings and roundabouts!

So, remember, whether it’s Twinkling Tiger, Vinted, Thrift+ or a car boot sale, charity shop, high street boutique or vintage market, try choosing secondhand first before defaulting to buying new, it really is worth it for so many reasons, not least to help save the planet while saving your pennies too!

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