8 Things That People Should Never Get Secondhand (that I have)

17 December, 2013

“Oh, I might get this! I think I need it, really?” It was almost an exact repeat of my exclamation to Tim about three bright orange melamine plates I’d spotted a second earlier. (Yes, we are flying to New Zealand in two weeks TO LIVE, but I’ll just sneak one pair of Tim’s massive wooly socks out of the luggage and sneak the plates in. Melamine is now my life’s ambition.)


We were in a charity shop and my three year old Ramona was clutching a small Ikea mirror that had been atrociously handcrafted up with small pasta shells and spray painted a metallic mauve. Half the shells had done a runner, obviously escaping the metallic mauve, and even the metallic mauve was a bit ashamed of itself and was flaking off in parts. “Let’s see the price tag, it’s probably minus 20p” – sometimes I truly believe these places should really be paying me to remove it from their shelf. I turn it over to find the sticker on the back. £1.50.

One pound fifty?!?!?

For just a few red faced, cross eyed seconds I became a Daily Mail reader. “That’s absurd! How can These Places charge double what something originally cost in the shop after it’s been DESCRATED?!” I was about to segue into an anti-immigration speech when Ramona interrupted, “Okay, how about this?” She was thrusting a grimey white teddy at me whose pokey black eyes were also pleading.

And thus begins my list….

8 Things That People Should Never Get Second Hand (that I have)

1- Teddy Bears that are a bit dirty and have pokey black eyes.

2- Knickers. I always buy my knickers from Oxfam. However, that is because they get them from Marks and Spencer’s. Clean, I think. (They better be as my mum’s life motto is pretty much “Always wear clean pants in case you’re run over by a bus.” She’s a fun one.)

3- Ear Plugs. I didn’t buy these, I stole them. This needs more explaining…. We were flying to England from New Zealand a few years ago and we had an 8 hour stop over in the airport. As we came through First Class I nabbed a pair of discarded ear plugs. “Vat are you doink?” Asked Tim. (He’s not German, he was stealthily enquiring through clenched teeth.) Well! He knew what I was doing after a quick wash and dry, when I hunkered down on a bench and slept solidly the whole 8 hours. *high fives self* But, outside of emergency situations like this, probably even just touching a stranger’s waxy plugs let alone shoving them in your lug ‘oles is a NoNo.

4- Incontinence Pads. We are currently using up a few old (unused) bags of Incontinence Pads as nappy inners for Juno’s cloth outers. It works TREMENDOUSLY. However, you soon become nonchalant and leave them at the top of your handbag and stuff; your great big wad of Molly Maids for all to see.

5- Toiletries. I once cycled the entire breadth of London to pick up a bag of toiletries I’d been lured by through Freecycle. I was unemployed and I spent about six months on daily Freecycle missions. This time was a disappointment- a great big sack of toiletries but half of them were partly used hotel shower gels and the other half were unlabelled. My waste not, want not attitude got me a bit of itchy skin.

6- Bean Bag Beans. Another Freecycle lure. We hiked to Canary Wharf and helped a lady empty her giant sofa of its tiny beanbag beans so she could take it home to Australia. We then filled 8 bin bags with them (this whole thing took about a day to do, those beanbag beans are PESKILY ELUSIVE) and took them on the tube all the way home. ARHAHAHA. As the knots on the bin bags gradually loosened, and the beans grasped every possibility to fly, the underground became like a snow globe.

Always leave the beans in the bag, people.

7- A cabinet that smells of wee. Or a wardrobe that smells of wee. Or a set of drawers that smells of wee. Cat wee is REALLY REALLY hard to get out of wood and every time you try and get out some cutlery/ craft materials like small pasta shells/ fancy frocks you’ll get a whiff. The downside of filling your house with street-finds.

On the topic of wee…

8- A mattress. Our great big stonking king sized bed was second hand and it came with wee stains on it. But oh, it was so plush, so gargantuan, so perfect for cosleeping, we couldn’t resist. However, the next time we found a bed frame on the street (cat wee free) we bought a brand new good mattress for it. Especially if you are considering cosleeping, it is safer to have a non-fumey, non-saggy mattress about which you know the full history.

As you can see, I’m pretty darn liberal about you can get secondhand. Anything for a bargain, me. It’s why I’ll probably die one day in my Oxfam undies not under a bus but under a collapsed tower of riotously coloured melamine that I didn’t hear falling because of the stranger’s ear plugs in my ears.

What do you avoid buying secondhand? Have you got anything that you’d never confess was a charity shop find?

Linking up with Liz and the other secondhand lovers at Magpie Monday.

This post is in collaboration with John Lewis. Please do check out my disclosure for more on that.

PS For more parenting/ travelling / thrifty blogging follow through Facebook or Bloglovin

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  • Reply Amanda 17 December, 2013 at 7:45 am

    I am a massive thrift and secondhand junkie!

    However, I do have some rules for myself that the things I do not buy second hand are knickers (but I do buy bras) bikini bottoms and mattresses – that’s it!
    The thing is because these things are so expensive to buy brand new, I just tend not to buy them! So yeah as you can imagine, I’m sitting here in knickers with ‘barely there’ elastic and sleeping on a mattress which gave up providing its user a comfortable night’s sleep sometime in the 90’s…………….

  • Reply Vicky Myers 17 December, 2013 at 7:47 am

    Really daftly I don’t buy nightwear, bizarre & non rational!
    Footwear for me – perhaps because I am size eight and a half there never is any! It’s just the thought of other people sweaty feet, no such qualms for the kids footwear though!
    My problem is my inability to leave a good kids game or jigsaw in the charity shop for someone else to enjoy:)

  • Reply Kate 17 December, 2013 at 2:52 am

    I have a philosophy that if it either goes in the washing machine, or can be wiped all over with Jif (or Cif or whatever it’s called these days) it’s fair game!

  • Reply Anna 17 December, 2013 at 9:09 am

    No jumble was ever out of bounds in our house. My mum made me wear jumble knickers as a child. Sounds gross but to be fair I didn’t care- they were a shade of green not seen on any of my contemporaries bums, which I valued. Strangely I find it really hard to buy jumpers from chazzers unless they are in really good nick. Otherwise they feel all bobbly and greasy and armpitty. I’m with you on the greasy teddies though… I get a kind of super-vision where I see technicolour germs swarming on them like in a dettol advert! Glittery stretch jeans are also out of bounds for obvious reasons :)

  • Reply @goriami 17 December, 2013 at 9:44 am

    Ahaha oh my word you really made me smile with that post! I am a huge fan of thrifting but yes, there are some things just should not! x
    @goriami recently posted…Shrek The Musical on Blu-Ray & DVD Review!My Profile

  • Reply Patch 17 December, 2013 at 10:39 am

    Totally agree with all of the above, especially the mattresses. But that doesn’t stop me from giving my old mattresses away to anyone who wants them ;D
    Patch recently posted…Weekend Madness… Part 2.My Profile

  • Reply Eeh Bah Mum 17 December, 2013 at 3:45 pm

    My dad is an antique dealer and we always got to raid the furniture/ house clearances for finds. I have a massive box full of other peoples family photos which is apparently an odd thing to keep according to my fella.
    I bought a new mattress for the first time when we had the kids and it changed my life so totally agree on that one.
    Eeh Bah Mum recently posted…How much choice do you give your children?My Profile

  • Reply nyssapod 29 December, 2013 at 11:43 pm

    I must admit to being pretty squeamish about old mattresses, but my main reason for preferring new mattresses is that they are usually much comfier!
    nyssapod recently posted…Magpie Monday – Russian DollsMy Profile

  • Reply Mari 30 December, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    Ewww at the cat wee, that is a no-no whatever the case. Thanks for joining in the BritMums Carnival and best of luck with your new life, can’t wait to hear more
    Mari recently posted…15 ways to feel fabulous this winter!My Profile

  • Reply My Best Post of The Year - BritMums Carnival special « MarisWorldMarisWorld 31 December, 2013 at 6:02 am

    […] a fantastic blog with all sorts of information on there but today she shares a brilliant post 8 things that people should never buy second hand […]

  • Reply helloitsgemma 3 January, 2014 at 8:54 pm

    oh my word!
    I know we sleep in beds in hotels that other people in *may* have wee-ed in…. eeww I need fresh for me mattress at home. I do admire your thrift, much I would certainly draw a line at, other people’s cosmetics. I do always grab a *free* newspaper when I *accidently* get on the first class carriage of the train.
    helloitsgemma recently posted…Seasons GreetingsMy Profile

  • Reply Karly - Pullingers 4 March, 2014 at 1:38 am

    You’re a very brave woman Lucy! Some things you mention there may be taking it a bit too far in my eyes, but there’s nothing wrong with adopting other second-hand items. Some of my most useful and prized positions are from charity shops or hand-me-downs!

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