All About Second Hand Stores: Your Complete Guide to Buying & Selling Used Items in Australia

For those eager to dive into second hand shopping in Sydney, now that lockdown is over, it's time to prep your shopping list. While physical stores are reopening, you can always browse online options like us at any time.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll delve into the vibrant world of second hand stores, exploring everything from the thrill of discovering unique treasures to the practicalities of reducing fashion waste and supporting charitable causes. Whether you're a seasoned thrifter or a newcomer to the second hand scene, join us on a journey to uncover the endless possibilities and benefits of embracing pre-loved items in Australia.

second hand stores

What Does "Second Hand" Mean?

When something is labeled "second hand," it usually means it's been previously purchased and is now being resold to someone else—the second buyer, so to speak.

However, don't assume second hand items are always "used." They could still be new with tags, unworn, or in excellent condition. Regardless, the best part of second hand shopping is the significant savings compared to buying new.

In the past, "second hand" had a stigma of being cheap. But as awareness of fashion waste grows, second hand is recognized as a sustainable alternative. That's why SwapUp aims to make second hand mainstream.

Where Do Second Hand Items Come From?

Where secondhand items come from varies depending on where you're looking!

Charity organizations often receive their stock from generous donations, while market stallholders might offer their own items or bulk purchases from secondhand clothes suppliers, typically focusing on specific niches. With the rise of secondhand popularity, some retailers like Amazon may even categorize returned items as "used," though this labeling can be misleading.

On the flip side, peer-to-peer marketplaces and consignment stores like SwapUp source their inventory directly from people like you! If you're considering decluttering your wardrobe and uncovering hidden gems, consider selling with SwapUp.

These options are especially great if you have:

  • Well, items that still have tags on them
  • A dress that you wore to a wedding once (no gown please)
  • The pair of shoes you got as a pressie and aren’t really your style
  • A nice leather belt that shrunk over Christmas
  • That wool jumper you bought in Melbourne and realised that you don’t need after you moved to Brisbane
  • The designer dress you spent an hour thinking about at the atelier, only to decide that it’s not for you when you got home!
  • Anything that swappers would dive for at a clothing swap event.

Why Should You Buy Second Hand?

According to SwapUp's survey, the top reason why 64% of people opt for secondhand clothing is to save money, closely followed by 20% who do so to contribute to environmental sustainability. Additionally, 7% of respondents shop secondhand to curate their own distinct style. Other motivations include the wide variety of options available and the exhilarating experience of uncovering a hidden gem while thrifting – and who can resist the thrill of that?

why buy second hand

If you need further convincing, our team has written an article detailing the benefits of second hand shopping.

Is It Okay to Buy Second Hand?

Is it okay to buy secondhand? Absolutely! Not only does it help you save money, but it also contributes to reducing our environmental footprint, making it a more than acceptable choice.

As for any lingering stigma, it's worth noting that buying secondhand isn't solely reserved for those in need. In fact, only a small fraction of charity clothes, around 5%, are actually sold to those in need according to Vinnies. Organizations like Thread Together even offer new clothes at no cost.

Concerned about cleanliness? Don't be. New clothes aren't necessarily cleaner than secondhand ones – they're just treated with chemicals to give them that fresh scent.

And what about staying trendy? Take a look at the current street styles – past Y2K trends are making a comeback, proving that secondhand is just as stylish as new clothes.

We've debunked some common myths about buying secondhand. Feel free to share this article with anyone who needs convincing to embrace preloved clothing!

is it okay to buy second hand

What Are The Best Things to Buy & Where Can You Buy Second Hand?

We've learned that the most worthwhile purchases are those that fulfill our needs, but that doesn't mean we should limit ourselves to just the basics. If you're reading this article, chances are you're interested in satisfying some of your aspirational desires as well. It's perfectly acceptable to want to feel good about your purchases, as it can positively impact your overall well-being and confidence.

With that in mind, we've compiled a list of outlets where you can find quality secondhand items at more affordable prices compared to buying new.

For starters, consider exploring SwapUp's collection of secondhand women's fashion, which includes a diverse range of designer, vintage, and collectible items.

Second hand designer, vintage & collectables

For high-end items like Chanel, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Prada, companies such as Revoir, Luxe.It.Fwd, and the RealReal are excellent options for selling and purchasing.


When it comes to furniture, online marketplaces offer a wide selection of secondhand pieces, and for curated shops specializing in unique vintage and antique finds, check out resources like the article provided by


For purchasing a car, there are numerous options available, whether from a dealership or a private seller. However, it's advisable to have an independent mechanic inspect the vehicle to ensure its condition and value.

Second hand books, video games, sports gears, and other entertainment

In terms of entertainment items like books, video games, and sports gear, there are various platforms to explore, such as EB Games for pre-owned consoles and games, Brotherhood Books and Elizabeth's Bookshop for books, and BikeExchange and Gumtree for bicycles. Additionally, Grays Fitness offers top brand used fitness equipment, while surfboards, rackets, and other sports equipment can be found secondhand for those looking to try out new hobbies without breaking the bank.


Lastly, for growing children, consider purchasing secondhand uniforms to reduce fashion consumption. The Uniform Exchange in Sydney is a great starting point, or you can explore your kids' school Facebook groups or other community platforms for gently used items. By embracing secondhand shopping, you can find quality items at affordable prices while also reducing your environmental footprint.

Where Can I Shop Second Hand Items?

You might pass by these places regularly, but unless you have a reason to explore them, chances are you wouldn't go out of your way to discover what they offer:

  1. Op shops near me

    We've shared tips and highlighted the best op shops in Sydney and Melbourne in our articles.
  2. Consignment shops

    Traditionally associated with higher-end fashion, consignment shops have evolved. Online platforms like SwapUp offer similar high-end services for mainstream products, contributing to better recirculation of everyday items to combat fashion waste. If you're unfamiliar with how consignment stores work, check out our comprehensive guide.
  3. Vintage shops

    While they may be pricier, vintage shops are meticulously curated by talented stylists. In Sydney, TimeOut has a list of top vintage stores worth exploring.
  4. Pop-up weekend markets

    Markets like Glebe Markets in Sydney are not only fun to visit but also excellent spots to hunt for thrifted items. These markets have reopened post-COVID and provide opportunities to interact with vendors in person. Plus, you can explore nearby cafes and shops like Sappho Bookstore in Glebe.
  5. Garage sales and deceased estate sales

    These are more spontaneous and may not cater to specific needs. However, they offer a fun experience, especially if you're not in a hurry. Websites like Gazza's Garage Sale list upcoming events in your area.
where to buy second hand

Where Can You Buy & Sell Second Hand Items Online in Australia?

Online marketplaces like eBay and Gumtree offer a wide range of items. Alternatively, consider online thrift and consignment stores such as Salvos Stores and SwapUp.

Online marketplaces

When it comes to online marketplaces, some of the largest in Australia include eBay, Gumtree, and Facebook Marketplace. For fashion-focused options, Depop and Poshmark are worth exploring. Keep in mind that peer-to-peer platforms can be unreliable, with potential issues like unresponsiveness, haggling, being ghosted, and dealing with multiple shipping fees. If you decide to meet up, prioritize safety by choosing a public location.

Online thrift and consignment second hand stores

If you're interested in online thrift and consignment stores, Salvos Stores is an option. Additionally, SwapUp provides a convenient platform for buying and selling pre-loved items, including clothing and accessories.

What Are the Environmental Benefits of Buying Second Hand?

The fashion industry's rapid pace of production and consumption, driven by fast fashion, has led to significant environmental issues. By 2050, the fashion industry is projected to consume 26% of the world's carbon budget. Additionally, clothing can take up to 40 years to decompose, while footwear can take nearly 1000 years. If we continue this unsustainable cycle, the consequences for our planet could be dire.

Buying secondhand is a crucial step in addressing these issues. It helps reduce fashion production and prevents clothes from ending up in landfills. By extending the lifespan of garments and allowing them to be shared among multiple individuals, we can lower the overall environmental impact. This aligns with SwapUp's mission, which is built upon the principles of sustainability.

Reducing emissions from fashion manufacturing is another significant benefit of secondhand shopping. Approximately 70% of fashion emissions come from producing raw materials and manufacturing processes. By embracing a circular economy where items are reused, recycled, and passed down, we can decrease the need for new clothing production.

Furthermore, buying second hand helps avoid the environmental impact of chemical treatments commonly used in new clothes. These treatments, such as stain-removers and anti-wrinkle agents, can be harmful to both humans and the environment. Even after washing, these contaminants can persist in the ecosystem, contributing to pollution. Therefore, minimizing the purchase of new clothes is essential for reducing chemical exposure and protecting our planet's health.

environmental benefit buy second hand

What Are the Other Advantages of Buying Second Hand?

We surveyed avid op shoppers, and here are the top reasons they love shopping at op shops:

  1. Find Your Unique Style
    In a world dominated by fast fashion and mass production, we all crave individuality. SwapUp, as one of Australia's largest online thrift stores, offers thousands of brands, styles, and sizes, ensuring each item is unique. Whether you visit a local thrift store, a small consignment shop, or shop at SwapUp, you have the best chance of finding a truly distinctive style.
  2. Live with the Story
    There's something special about owning items with a history. Each piece tells a story of fun, laughter, and life experienced by its previous owner. When you buy second hand, you get to relive these stories. If you're interested in exploring this theme further, check out Netflix's "Worn Stories" for heartfelt and humorous anecdotes.
  3. Support Charities
    It feels good to make a positive impact. Shopping at local op shops allows you to dress up while supporting charitable causes. Alternatively, you can sell your items through SwapUp and donate the proceeds to your chosen charity. With full control over your payout, you can use your credit balance to shop, cash out, or donate to organizations like Seed Australia and the Bali Children Foundation.
  4. Save Money
    Who doesn't love a good bargain? Secondhand shopping enables you to acquire like-new items at a fraction of their original cost. At SwapUp, you can save up to 90% off the recommended retail price. Plus, explore our sale section for even greater discounts on quality items. These discounted items are waiting for a new, loving second home.
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