Second Hand Shopping & Dumpster (Curb) Diving in NYC

Second hand shopping has been a passion of mine for a while now for two reasons. First, there’s the positive environmental impact of reusing an item that would have ended up in the landfill and negating the negative impact of production costs for a new item – especially if it’s clothing or furniture.

Secondly, there is the thrill of getting a great deal on an item that someone didn’t see the value in. If done right, there are no cons in thrifting, second hand shopping, dumpster diving, re-using and re-purposing, whatever you want to call it!

Before you get too excited and head off to a local vintage store in Manhattan, prepare yourself. Not all second-hand stores are made equal. The first time I decided to go shopping in the city, I was browsing racks of second hand jackets that ranged from $50 to $300… that is when I realized that second hand doesn’t mean cheap. This is not a bad thing.

Shopping for used items isn’t just for people on a budget. Entering a second-hand store is like gambling. You do not know what you will find, if you will get ripped off or if you will go home with a steal! That’s what’s so thrilling about it.

Although, as I’ve mentioned, thrifting isn’t jut for those on a budget, I happen to be on one. In about two months I will no longer be blogging about New York because Isaac and I are moving to our very own house in Rhode Island.

It’s funny to mention buying a house in an article about second hand shopping. Unless you are buying a brand new house or build one just for you, you are technically buying a used or second-hand home. Just like with any other gently-used item, you can outfit the home to suit your needs and match your style!

Anyway, going from a shoebox New York apartment to a four bedroom house (which will ironically save us money FYI) comes with its perks as well as challenges. We will need a ridiculous amount of furniture to turn the empty shell of a house into a home.

If we had the budget for it, we’d be visiting antique stores and buying beautiful one-of-a-kind pieces for hundreds of dollars. This is something we will work up to as we shop Savers, my favorite second hand store, and while we scavenge the streets for the biggest risk of all – free furniture.

My next article will be exclusively about Savers, the closest one to New York City is on Long Island near Hempstead. Let me end this post with the pros and cons of finding free furniture on the street.

Brooklyn, and specifically Bushwick, where we will live for two more months, is littered with free furniture all year round. As exciting as finding free furniture is, it happens to be a hit and miss as well as quite risky when it comes to your health.

Pros: it’s free! You can find perfectly clean, high quality and even antique furniture that someone was too lazy to sell or take to a second hand store. Some of these items are the very same you’d be spending hundreds of dollars on at a fancy vintage store. These items, however, are rare and you have to be incredibly lucky to find them.

Cons: bed bugs. There are other cons like, it may be dirty, bad quality, peed on by a passing dog (or human). But nothing is worse that the risk of bed bugs. There are articles on signs of bedbugs that you can study and examine. Bed bugs can live in wooden furniture as well as sofas/mattresses.

Pro tip: find out what day trash pick up is. Since leaving furniture out on the curb is technically illegal, people are more likely to sneak their furniture out on these days because they are less likely to get caught.

I have heard my fair share of horror stories related to bed bugs and some kind people who throw out furniture will stick on a note on if there is a potential bed bug risk. But not everyone is that nice and they may not know. Make sure to watch a YouTube video on what to look for. Make sure to check every crack, corner and crevice before you bring anything home.

If you want to avoid these dangers, stick to Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist and garage sales. Although it’s still possible that you will buy something with bed bugs in it, people are less likely to sell something that they know will get them bad feedback/angry reviews.

Garage sales are especially great for buyers because the sellers just want to get rid of stuff and will likely sell things at ridiculous prices – like our new incredibly comfy, barely used, leather computer chair for $20. Something that a second hand furniture store would re-sell at at least $60+.

Stay tuned for my article about Savers including info about the type of items they sell, prices and their twice a year 50% off all item sales. If you have any comments, complaints, tips about second hand shopping or dumpster (curb) diving, leave a comment bellow!

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