A Pandemic Upside: Great Brands at Bargain Prices

Amidst the chaos and devastation left in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, a few bright spots have managed to emerge. One of these, BILLSHARK has discovered, is the availability of brand-name prices to be had online, sometimes for unbelievably low, bargain prices.

Stuck and home and bored, many of us apparently have decided there’s only so much sourdough bread you can bake. Now we’ve turned to cleaning out our closets, attics and basements. So much so that earlier this month many local thrift shops like Goodwill and Community Closet have had to call a halt to donations because their warehouses were full.

Resale booming

Even before the pandemic hit, millennials were turning to resale marketplaces. They partly want to save money and reduce the waste stream cluttering the planet. But since the onset of the coronavirus shutdowns, the market for secondhand goods—especially clothing—has taken off.

“Resale has been doing very well through the pandemic,” Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData’s retail division, told CNN recently. “Consumers in general love getting great brands, including high-end luxury brands, at bargain prices.”

Last month the luxury resale site The RealReal reported it had seen an increase of 27 percent in membership since the pandemic began, 37 percent of which were Gen Z or millennials. Consignment retailer ThredUp reported similar numbers in July, with a record-breaking 31 percent increase over pre-pandemic sales.

Traditional retailers join in

Many major retailers known primarily for their brick-and-mortar presence have also entered the online “lightly used” market, including Nordstrom, Macy’s Eileen Fisher, Patagonia, Urban Outfitters, and REI.

Even Walmart has jumped on the bandwagon. It announced in May that it would partner with ThredUp to sell over 750,000 women’s and children’s “like new” or “gently used” clothing, accessories, footwear, and handbags through a special portal at Walmart.com. And many of the items featured will not be typical Walmart-style fare.

“From Calvin Klein and Nike to Coach and Michael Kors, this digital partnership enhances Walmart’s fashion offering with fresh brands at amazing prices that their customers will love,” ThredUp’s director of product management Jenn Volk said in a statement.

Top online sites

There are literally hundreds of resale retailers offering high-quality, “gently used” goods for sale. Some of the most popular online consignment shops include:

  • ThredUp
  • The RealReal
  • Poshmark
  • Vestiaire Collective
  • Worthy
  • Kidizen
  • Grailed
  • Depop
  • Everything But the House

Think before you shop

It’s easy to get excited by the amazing deals you can find when secondhand shopping, whether online or in person. But if you don’t want a closet or garage filled with things you’ll never use, follow these tips:

Shop need, not want

One thing Marie Kondo has done is to make us aware of the downside of buying things on the spur of the moment. This is how we end up with overstuffed homes that don’t “spark joy.” So rather than have to get rid of unwanted items, don’t bring them into your home in the first place.

Shop your closet first to see what item(s) you need to complete a look. Stick to that list when buying. Just because it’s a steal doesn't mean you will ever use it.

Be flexible

One problem with buying used is that the inventory comprises what people have consigned or donated. So unlike buying new, you can’t ask the clerk or check the website for that jacket you love in a different size. Secondhand shopping is entirely WYSIWTG: what you see is what they’ve got.

Compare prices

If you see a Stella McCartney dress for $350, before you add it to your shopping cart check around to see what it cost originally. You may find some items are not at bargain prices after all. You may even find it for less someplace else.

Check their return policy

Amazon and eBay have trained us to expect flexible return policies, but that doesn't mean every website or store has the same policy. At Goodwill, for instance, you have only seven days to return an item, unused, and only at the same store you bought it from.

Most of the better-known online sites will have generous return policies. But find out for sure before you click the “buy now” button.

Remember, if you need cash for a little retail therapy or any other reason, let BILLSHARK find some for you. Our professional negotiators know how to find hidden savings on your bills, and it costs nothing to let us try. So contact us today to save hundreds of dollars!

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