The practice of minimalism has been gaining popularity amongst millennials. With the advent of the ‘Marie Kondo’ lifestyle, many are doing away with their clutter, and consciously getting only what they truly need. There are many who also turn towards pre-loved products if they can find suitable bargains.
Thrift shopping has huge upsides, both for the environment and your pocket. You pay less for daily necessities in mint condition, plus saving the earth at the same time.
While the older generation may hold misconceptions about the safety and hygiene factor of thrift shopping, we’ve put together an article to debunk just that and give you a much-needed push towards a more frugal and greener way of living.
Pros of opting for pre-loved items
You contribute to environmental sustainability
By thrifting perfectly usable items, you’re essentially preventing more from ending up in our ever-growing landfills—an issue that environmentalists have been trying so hard to tackle, especially in the face of climate change.
You save money
With consumerism manifesting rapidly in today’s society, many fall prey to the belief that you must buy something to feel satisfied. But in the long run, your bank account will thank you for rejecting impulsive materialism and embracing more responsible spending.
Plus, if you really cannot stand the thought of being being seen in the same outfit repeatedly, or are in need of some retail therapy, thrifting clothing or other knick knacks will definitely satisfy your urge to splurge without burning a hole in your pocket.
Thrifted items can be good as new—you just have to take extra care and precaution
As many avid thrift shoppers will tell you, pre-loved items are not “dirty” and they are certainly not less valuable than shiny new goods.
All you have to do is take extra note of the item’s quality before purchasing it. When you take it home, follow the many tutorials online on how to effectively deep clean your thrifted clothing, jewellery or furniture. Get these simple steps down and your pre-loved items will be back to tip top shape.
It can be fun bargain-hunting together
If you have like-minded friends, why not add thrifting to your friendship bucket list? After all, the shared experience of digging through clothing mountains and laughing at peculiar bric-a-brac is sure to add on to the joys of both friendship and shopping pre-loved.
Cons of buying pre-loved items
Lack of variety
Since the items in thrift shops are donated, depending on your luck, you may walk out with the finest finds or none at all. This might be extra stressful if you’re looking for something specific.
Unlike department stores, thrift stores do not entertain returns or refunds. So, before getting that $10 find, be sure that it’s what you really want.
While it’s normal to get caught up in the whirlwind of bargains that thrift stores have to offer, one should be wary of over-thrifting. After all, the items are priced as low as possible for a reason—some needy folks depend heavily on charity shops to be clothed. So, remember to spare a thought for others and thrift only what is necessary.
Things to get second-hand
Here’s some items you can think about adding to your shopping lists before you hit up that thrift store:
Arguably the most sanitary options to thrift are clothing because there is nothing that good ol’ baking soda, vinegar and a few thorough washes cannot clean off.
While you may have to browse through multitudes of racks as you lug your basket around, thrifting for clothes is can feel satisfying, especially when you finally find that thrifted gem. After all, if you keep your eyes peeled, you might even find designer items going for a fraction of its retail price down at your local thrift store.
Also, since babies tend to outgrow their garments quickly, couples with newborns can contemplate thrifting some baby ensembles for your little ones. The same goes for expecting mothers and thrifting lightly-worn maternity wear because you’ll probably only use your maternity clothes for under a year.
I’m sure everyone can agree that books don’t need to come in pristine condition, in fact indulging in a crisp, worn copy might prove oddly more therapeutic than a stiff, new edition. So, aside from libraries, well-read second-hand books are your best friends.
For students or those constantly hungry for knowledge, getting textbooks and self-help books second hand allows you to save a few pennies down the road too. Just ensure that your book has all its pages intact before picking it up!
If you spot wooden furniture with no paint chippings and a retro vibe to boot, scoring them off thrift shops will do wonders for your finances. Anyway, it’s always easy to breathe new life into already sturdy woodwork with new fixtures and a fresh coat of varnish.
For the crafty vintage lovers out there, thrifting jewellery might just be for you. Pre-loved jewellery can spruce up any outfit of yours and because you get them at a fraction of its original price, you can be more adventurous in DIY-ing them to suit your preferences. Here’s a useful guide to verify that you’re getting the best out of your vintage finds.
Things not to get second-hand
Now, here are some items to not get pre-loved—no matter how much of a “steal” you think they are:
Used undergarments, makeup and other personal stuff
For obvious, hygiene reasons, it’s best to sit out on thrifting intimate apparel, towels and bedding. Instead, look out for normal attire, shoes and bags.
It is almost impossible to find out if a car seat is unfit for use at the thrift store. Moreover, it is required by law that car seats must be replaced after accidents. But, since we have no way of knowing whether previous owners have abided by the rule, get your car seats brand new at licensed sellers instead to ensure the safety of you and your future passengers.
As opposed to clothing, it is not recommended to get furniture like cots or dressers that your young ones will be in close proximity to in case the furnishing fails to meet toddler-safe guidelines. For nurseries, it’s still best to buy new.
Mattresses, pillows, rugs and stuffed toys
Thrifting bedding and stuffed toys or anything with fur or cotton might warrant an unwanted visit from dust, molds or worse—bed bugs. Certain allergic reactions may also be triggered by such items if bought second hand.
Where to go for second-hand items in Singapore
Lucky Plaza Bazaar
Recently rebranded to keep up with the thrifting craze that is taking over Gen-Z culture in Singapore, the Lucky Plaza Bazaar in Orchard has become a staple locale for local thrifting fanatics.
The Lucky Plaza Bazaar is situated at the fourth level of the similarly-named building, selling a variety of clothing items from formal wear, casual outfits to swimsuits, all at prices below $10 each.
304 Orchard Rd, Singapore 238863
Operating Hours: 9am – 9pm daily
Nearest MRT: Orchard
New2U Thrift Shop
Source: New2U Facebook
Commonly quoted by seasoned thrifters as their holy grail location for getting their thrifting fixes, New2U Thrift Shop at Waterloo Street certainly does not disappoint. Aside from their stellar array of clothing (men, women, children), shoes, crockery, books and toys, this thrift shop has various promotions on-going throughout the week and month:
- Tuesday is Student half-price day (for all registered local and international students, so remember to bring your student ID!)
- Monthly: All items go at half-price on the last 2 working days of the month
- Exceptions: Books, toys, jewellery, “No discount items”, $1 items
For this reason, you’ll often find fashionably-clad youth skimming through the aisles of this hot thrifting palace which by the way, takes in volunteers and donations as well! All proceeds received go towards Star Shelter and the various SCWO initiatives.
In light of COVID-19, the store has also recently launched an online alternative, the New2U Online Shop where customers can thrift from the comforts of their home. The process is much like your usual online shopping rituals – simply add to cart and checkout!
96 Waterloo Street, Singapore 187967
Operating hours: Mon – Fri: 10.30am – 2.30pm, Last Sun of every month: 11am – 2pm
Nearest MRT: Bugis/Bras Basah
Something New Something Old
Source: Something Old Something New
Something Old Something New (SOSN) is a social enterprise thrift shop that raises funds to train and teach persons recovering from psychiatric problems with retail and logistics skills to improve their employability.
The organisation has many heartland outlets littered across the island (Farrer Park, Pasir Ris, Simei, Jurong West, Woodland, Yishun), and their selection of finds doesn’t fall short either. Expect to find clothes, bags, household products and other ornaments here for as low as $1.
Address: View website for the various locations and opening hours
Source: Refash Facebook
Those of us who prefer the chic, girl-next-door style that typical blogshops render can turn to Refash for their shopping fix. Refash is a higher-end second hand shop that retails both offline and online. They carry pre-loved pieces from top brands like Love, Bonito, Zalora and The Editor’s Market at almost 70% off their retailed prices!
Address: View their website for the various outlets and opening hours
Thryft.sg is a local e-commerce platform dedicated to the trade of second hand books. From graphic novels and manga to poetry and even teaching resources, don’t give Thryft a miss if you’d like to get your hands on some reads for the year ahead.
Besides advocating for the value of second hand books, the site continues to pledge its devotion towards sustainability by opting for plastic-free packaging. A portion of their profits are also channeled towards social organisations to support low-income families in the face of a global pandemic, at-risk youth as well as provide education for children in rural Nepal. Hence, in addition to the exciting new stories you’ll have on your shelf, you are also helping the less fortunate start their own.
Knowledge Book Centre (For textbooks)
Source: Knowledge Book Centre Facebook
Knowledge Book Centre is a choice destination for anxious parents looking to stock up on past year papers or students seeking textbooks at more affordable fares.
Indeed, this second-hand book nook promises a range of over 2500 books for every customer’s needs, spanning from informational books about advertising, finance and even investing to fiction and astrology!
#03-35/37B Bras Basah Complex
#231 Bain Street
Operating hours: Mon – Thur & Sat: 10.30am – 7pm, Fri: 2.30pm-7pm, Sun & Public Holidays: 11am – 6pm
Nearest MRT: Bras Basah
Source: Book Point Facebook
Snugly situated in the mix of shops in Bras Basah Complex is Book Point, a second hand bookstore that prides itself in carrying not only a handsome slew of genres (history, astronomy, true crime etc.), but also rare and out of print books.
So, if you’ve been meaning to get your hands on a certain bygone edition, be sure to head down to this antiquarian jewel.
#03-17, Bras Basah Complex, 231 Bain St, Singapore 180231
Contact: +65 63389106
Operating hours: Mon-Thur & Sat: 10AM-7PM | Fri: 2PM-7PM | Sun: 10.30AM-6PM
Nearest MRT: Bras Basah
For books, clothes, furniture and everything else
Carousell is another digital platform that allows users to peruse listings for used and new items at the touch of a finger. All you have to do is type into the search bar with relevant filters (if you want), and you can probably find whatever it is you’re looking for at a range of prices within your budget.
Carousell’s biggest attraction is the convenience of having transactions happen online. You can opt to pay sellers via online banking services and have them deliver your items to your doorstep. Pre-loved shopping on Carousell is thus best for time-strapped hustlers or those who prefer not meeting up with the other party.
One big downside of matching with the other party online is the possibility of falling victim to online scams. So, before you lock in any money, be sure to check the seller’s ratings for feedback.
Have not added Carousell to your online shopping go-tos? You can download the Carousell app on your phone for free!
The Salvation Army
Source: Frugal in Singapore
As the largest physical thrift shop in Singapore to date, The Salvation Army Praisehaven Mega Family Store boasts everything from women and menswear, household items to unique trinkets—if you can name it, they probably have it, and at reasonable prices ($5-$15) as well.
Those looking to get dolled up for weddings or formal nights out on a budget will also be glad to know that you can find a generous selection of next-to-new ladies’ evening wear at The Salvation Army.
Aside from shopping, you can also stop by their counters or website to help out the community as the charitable organisation accepts donations in cash and in kind.
Salvation Army Praisehaven Mega Family Thrift Store
500 Upper Bukit Timah Road, S678106
Contact : +65 63495312
Operating Hours: Mon – Thurs: 10am – 6pm, Fri & Sat: 10am – 9pm, closed on Sundays
Nearest MRT: Hillview
“One man’s trash is another’s treasure”
Before you dump that one spontaneous 11.11 buy or the books you never go to open, you may want to consider donating them to your next-door thrift stores instead. After all, you might just make someone else’s day.
With our accumulating waste and climate change hot on our tails, thrifting is slowly becoming the new normal.
So, if you’re feeling adventurous and ready to embrace a sustainable future, start thrifting now—you never know what you may find.