Seven ways to bag a bargain

4 August 2011

Second-hand shopping is a way of life for many people, and with good reason: buying 'preloved' gives you the chance to find something unique, save money and reduce your carbon footprint, while selling your own stuff is a great way to de-clutter your home and make some extra cash.

So if you haven't got into your second-hand stride yet, why not give it a go? And even if you're a seasoned second-hand bargain hunter, the Moneywise guide to our favourite places for picking up great deals and selling unwanted items should give you some fresh ideas.


EBay's UK site ( is visited by 17 million people each month. But although it's probably the best-known second-hand website, it's also one of the most expensive, as the company takes a 10% cut of any private sale (excluding mobile phones, vehicles and property), capped at £40 per transaction.

However, there are occasionally free or reduced price listing days.

Good for buying: 4/5

Good for selling: 3/5


Charity shops are a great place to pick up bargains while supporting a good cause, though you have to be patient. Shop in wealthier areas to find better-quality items - but be sure to get there early.

Several of the big charities also have boutique shops that sell second-hand designer clothes; prices are higher than in your average charity shop but a fraction of the cost of new designer outfits. Oxfam and Cancer Research also have websites.

Good for buying: 4/5

Good for selling: N/A


These are a cheaper alternative to eBay; two of the most popular are and

It's free to list an item, but you'll have to arrange payment and collection of the purchase directly with the buyer (money can be transferred through Paypal for added security). At, a £5 annual membership fee will give you early access to any new listings.

Good for buying: 5/5

Good for selling: 4/5


When someone dies there's quite often an estate sale to clear out the person's house. Although it may have a slightly morbid atmosphere, it's possible to pick up cheap household items. Check local notice boards for announcements, and take cash with you when you go.

Good for buying: 1/5

Good for selling: 2/5


Car boot sales are held every weekend across the UK, and you can buy and sell almost anything.

If you're setting up a stall, there will normally be a charge (around £5), and you'll need to bring your own table. Remember to get there early to bag a prime position, don't price things too high, and ensure your items are well laid out.

For one near you, visit You can also try online car boot-style sites such as and Jumble sales and bric-a-brac stalls at school fetes are a similar option for purchases.

Good for buying: 2/5

Good for selling: 3/5


This is a group of 540 local community websites across the UK that list free unwanted items, thereby keeping usable goods out of landfill sites.

It's free to post your goods. Good items go very quickly, but if you're hunting for a specific item, you can post a 'wanted' listing, and you'll be emailed if anyone has something suitable. It's the acquirer's responsibility to collect items. 

Good for buying: 3/5

Good for selling: N/A


Most of us have outfits cluttering up our wardrobes that haven't seen the light of day for years; 'swishing' is a good answer to the problem.

It involves getting groups of (typically) women together to swap clothes. Larger events are listed on the website, but if you want to arrange a swishing event yourself, simply find a suitable date and tell your friends to each bring over three to five unwanted items to swap.

If you've got unwanted designer clothes you can also sell them to a second-hand store such as the Rag Trade Boutique in Bristol. Take your clothes to the shop and it will let you know within three days how much it'll give you for them. You then have a week to decide if you want to accept the cash or hold onto your clothes.

Good for buying: 3/5

Good for selling: 3/5


All types of second-hand products are sold at auction sales, but it's a pressurised environment so make sure you're aware of the rules before you get involved. Make a list of exactly what you're looking for and what you're prepared to pay - that way you won't end up buying something you didn't really want.

There are listings of local auctions at; and is a useful online auction website.

Good for buying: 3/5

Good for selling: 4/5


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