There are a whole load of reasons why thrift store shopping has become the new verb, "thrifting." Just one glance at videos on YouTube and you find unlimited amounts of very popular ones that involve people going through thrift stores looking for bargains.
The stigman of thrift shopping has been dropped. People are realizing that repurposing items is ethical, good economic sense, and if people like themselves are donating to thrift stores, then the items are things that they once sought out at full price.
So, why not let someone else take the hit for the first buying?
Here's some places to look into for free or super low-priced used items.
Nextdoor.com It hooks you up in a private space online where you can ask who is a good tile installer, would someone walk your dog, the street is closed down because of an accident, someone tried to break into my home, I have a service for hire, etc. The classifieds on there list tons of free items that all you have to do is pick up and haul off, like yard pavers, fill dirt, old sofas, and more. If you are at all handy, lots of these items are great finds, simply reupholster or sand and restain.
When I was moving from my apartment, I had a giant bowflex machine that had become a clothing catch-all. I realized I wasn't going to use it but it was also way too big to move, so I put an ad up in nextdoor.com and within 20 minutes, a man who was a mountain climber and needed conditioning training, came and disassembled and moved it with a giant grin as he was getting the machine for free, even though it had a LOT of parts.
Bartering on NextDoor is great too. I put up an ad that I had a 2-person dresser and needed a smaller dresser and I had a queen bed and needed a twin because I was downsizing. Exchange happened that day!
You might also want to tell family and friends you're looking for a side table, does anyone have one? Many times we have items in our homes we don't use, should get rid of, are taking up garage or attic space. If you have too much pride, simply say you're hoping to practicing sanding and refinishing a piece of furniture that is free so you don't bite the cost of buying and possibly ruining something.
Check out bulk trash pickup for your neighborhood. The next time people start piling things out on the curb, drive by and see if there's anything you want to pick off. Lots of times people get rid of furnishing, lawn mowers, and more.
Places like Marketplace on Facebook and Craig's List have potential to do some bartering, as well.
Thrift Stores are the most obvious place to find secondhand items. You'd be surprised what labels they carry and the lack of use in many household goods. Upon putting together a list of furnishing a home with my fiance when we purchase one, I plan to get almost everything I can from the thrift store. My only exclusions might be things like sheets, towels, mattresses, and sofa.
Hard furnishings like tables and dining chairs and side tables, and such would be ideal from a secondhand store as the wear would lend them to shabby and if they are outdated, sanding and restaining or painting is simple.
Clothing secondhand is always fantastic because the styles are not found in popular stores, so you will not run into your outfit anywhere else, as well as giving a really individual look that defines your style. Vintage is a fantastic way to dress and super popular, especially with the resurgence of mid century and bohemian styles.
Friends and Family are a great resource too. I used to put on a girl's clothing exchange tea party event. I'd set up the living room with mirrors, hangers, and took paper bags and decorated them with paper doilies. I put on a full tea party spread from sandwiches to little cakes to tea and sherry. We would enjoy a yummy tea and then everyone hung up the items they brought to exchange. Everything from purses to necklaces, shoes to clothing could be found in the living room store! We would start trying on items and putting them in our decorated bag to take home. Other ways of doing this is to simply offer some of your clothes you want to get rid of to a relative or friend and see if they might have items they want to exchange. Perhaps each season, you can do an exchange.
Estate Sales are a very popular way to find some amazing vintage items and household items. There are even cell phone apps so you can track what's going on in your area. If you consider your own life, if you were to pass on right now, your home is still furnished with and your wardrobe still containing things you were currently using as well as sentimental items. So, an estate sale is a microcosm of at-this-moment items needing a new home.
Garage/Yard Sales are a long-time favorite for many who pack it up in the morning with an iced coffee and head out to the suburbs in search of some finds. Many of these are listed ahead of time on nextdoor.com and the classifieds. These neighbors are even willing to come down in price on items just to not have to store it anymore.
Many thrift stores have 50% off days, so it's good to go onto the sites and see what they have to offer. Whenever you go to buy items, it's a nice courtesy to bring things you no longer want and the cycle of good folks leaving off good items can continue.
Part of today's downsizing experience is about re-focusing away from Chinese-made cheap consumerism with products that are unhealthy, unreliable, and disposable to taking what we have and working with it. This is an inherent part of man's psyche to want to use resources, but reusing resources is doubly good.
When an acquaintance mentioned not wanting to buy used clothing because it would look worn, I had to not only point out the shirt I was wearing from Goodwill, but also point out that the moment she took a cost hit in the clothing store on that nice top that she never got around to wearing because she didn't have the right occasion, or she wore it only a few times because it didn't match many of her clothes, that it was just as worn as anything she'd buy secondhand. The clothing is often in very nice even new shape. If she's willing to wear a shirt she has worn a dozen times that she bought retail, what's the difference if she wears one worn a few times from a thrift store?
I am pleased to see shopping turning to thrifting. There are tons of thrift stores, flea markets, garage sales, antique shops, and vintage stores to go around!