My top tips for buying secondhand items online

It’s no secret that I love finding a good secondhand bargain both in real life and online. Whenever I share my latest Kijiji finds I always get asked about how I get so lucky with the things I’ve found. Some of it is luck, yes, but I’ve also fine tuned a few methods over the years and that got me thinking about what I would include if I wrote a post about sourcing secondhand items online. I’ve narrowed it down to four main points which I hope will be helpful to all my fellow thrifters out there! Unless you live in Ottawa; go away. I want all of the things for myself.

I use Kijiji here in Canada, but in Ireland I used to use Adverts to find all kinds of household items, so these tips can easily be used while surfing Adverts [though the messaging system is different and there’s an added evaluation system (which I sometimes wish was available on Kijiji)]. My top tips are …

Click through to four top tips for sourcing secondhand pieces online! #Secondhand #Thrifted

Look past the pictures
We all have our strong points. For some people, taking and / or uploading photos is not even in the same hemisphere as their strong points. I’m not looking to shame people here because I know and understand not everyone is tech savvy, but what I am saying is that this is an area where you can get really lucky. Joe takes a photo of the photo on his phone and uploads the picture of him holding his phone instead of uploading the photo directly from his phone. It’s photo inception. It’s not an ideal picture but the item for sale in the photo itself is exactly what you’re looking for. Because the photo quality isn’t great, it’s amazing how many people won’t even bother to click into the ad to see more. This is where you can pounce. You’ve got to see past the photos and see the items potential.

For example, this is a photo of four chandeliers I found on Kijiji advertised at $40. The photo is uploaded sideways and doesn’t even show the full chandeliers. BUT, I had just bought our secondhand Kijiji chandelier a few weeks previously and this was the same style chandelier. I asked the seller if it was possible to see the full chandelier, they sent me a photo of it held up, and it was perfect so I went for it [the other three chandeliers are much smaller, but they’re still perfect fixtures for our other rooms].

Broaden and simplify your search terms
If you’re looking for something really specific like a storage bench for your hallway, if you search for ‘storage bench’ or ‘hall bench’ then you’re going to miss out on the people who are advertising their item just as a ‘bench’. There are people who aren’t interested in writing detailed summaries for products so try to think of a few alternative key words for what you’re looking for. Be less specific. ‘Bench’ and even ‘ottoman’ are good words to start with for this example. Someone may have been using a storage bench as an ottoman so they’ll list it as an ‘ottoman’. Yes, you’ll have to look through a lot more advertisements, but you’ll have access to much more and it will increase your chances of finding what you want.

Compromise / do some DIY
If you’re looking for something specific for your home [ie – a dresser], try not to narrow down your options in your mind before you start. If you’re looking for a green dresser with 8 drawers and brass handles for your dining room, chances are you are not going to find that exact thing. Compromise by deciding what you really want and what you can possibly DIY. If the number of drawers is really important to you, then concentrate on the number of drawers when you’re browsing and consider painting a dresser green yourself and sourcing some brass handles. Or the other way around; if you don’t like the idea of painting a dresser, then keep an eye out for green dressers but you might need to compromise on how many drawers the dresser has or what size and shape it is. Figure out ahead of time what you want to prioritise and be open to having to compromise.

Be a human person
My final point is a pretty basic one but one that I’ve dealt with as a buyer and a seller; be a human person. When you’re messaging someone about a piece, don’t be one of those people who just writes “I’ll swap you one of the items I’m selling for this” because you’re not going to get a reply. In your first message to a seller say you’re very interested in their piece, you’re thinking of putting it in your living room and you’re wondering if it’s still available. And ALWAYS write your name at the end of the message [there’s nothing I find more frustrating then not knowing who I’m dealing with]. Be personable.

For our secondhand French provincial sofa and armchair, I explained we had just moved to Canada and didn’t have any of our own furniture, I was in love with that style of sofa and I’d love to one day reupholster something like that. The seller gave me her number, we had a long chat and even though there were other people interested who could collect the set before I could, I got it because I was a human person with her. The same when I spoke to the guy I bought Cora’s baby grand piano from; we LOLed about toddlers. Even our current Lower Town apartment; I called [our now] landlord and was upfront with her about our situation and they held the apartment for us for nearly two months. No, you’re not swindling people. You’re just being real. You’ll get more of a positive response from people if you show you’re a real person, you’re honest with them and not a total douche bag.

I know they’re not ground breaking tips, but these are a few of the methods I use almost every time I’m browsing for a certain piece for our apartment [or as it happens, an apartment itself]. I hope they’ve been somewhat helpful for you! But what about you; do you have any tips or methods that have worked for you over the years when it comes to online thrifting?

Click through to four top tips for sourcing secondhand pieces online! #Secondhand #Thrifted

Secondhand Kijiji chandelier

Our Lower Town apartment is full of track lighting. The living room, hallway, dining room, Cora’s bedroom and the kitchen all have track lighting. I’m not shaming track lighting entirely; it does have a place but I don’t think its place is the main light source of any room. As you can see in the picture below, this was what the main lighting in our living room was up until this week. A giant strip of track lighting that was haphazardly aimed at the TV, the door to our front porch, and three random areas on the floor. It wasn’t great and depending on where you sat, you’d either get a face full of light or it would be so dark at night that you couldn’t see what you were doing.

I know I could just reposition the lights to suit specific areas, but overall as a room, having track lighting in this way was not working. So I took to Kijiji to find a new [to us] light.

I searched for “chandeliers” for a few weeks [you’d be amazed at what some people’s definition of a chandelier is] and finally came across this beauty. I know it’s not everybody’s cup of tea but the combination of gold finish, size, fancy shape and warm acrylic ‘crystals’ were exactly what I was looking for! It was advertised as $70 which sounds like a lot of money, but when you consider modern looking pendant lights I found elsewhere online were going for upwards of $120 on sale, for us, this was a total bargain. It was full of character and just what I was looking for. It also came with all the original light bulbs [two of which I’ve removed because we just don’t need 6 light bulbs. I’m hoping to get more energy efficient bulbs soon].

I took all the crystals off, washed and dried them and Handyman Dave came over last week to hang it and do all the electrical gobbledegook [something I’m terrified of and won’t do].

I patched over the holes and repainted along where the track was [it was this colour underneath] and the room immediately felt so much more welcoming. The living room feels cosy at night and with the dimmer switch, the chandelier looks about four different levels of fancy.

I could have bought a new chandelier but I knew that if I waited long enough, a perfect light would come along on Kijiji and not only at a better price, but secondhand too. Yes, I will be buying some new lights for certain rooms in our apartment but I knew a modern light wouldn’t look as good in our living room.

Secondhand French provincial sofa and armchair

Despite it being a Monday, I’m very excited to share photos of our new secondhand French provincial style sofa and armchair that we got our hands on last weekend through Kijiji! And I am so in love with them.

I had been searching Kijiji for vintage and vintage-style sofas for a while and every time was met with either beautiful sofas that were way outside of our budget (a months rent minimum) or the polar opposite of threadbare couches with disproportionate price tags. Then one afternoon while Cora was napping, I logged onto Kijiji to see if there was anything new (or, I should say, ‘new’) and there on the first page was a peach coloured French provincial sofa and armchair …


The seller was looking to have the set gone by the weekend, so she marked them as free. F R E E. You can imagine the sounds I made when I saw those four letters, so I sent a message, made a few phone calls later and the next day the sofa and armchair were being delivered to our apartment.

There are a few stains on the fabric and the foam cushions have seen better days (which is understandable, I mean, it’s a 30 year old set), but it’s otherwise in incredible condition. Both the sofa and armchair are very firm and comfortable and are just what I’ve been needing for my hip problems (yay, ongoing post-pregnancy issues). The wooden frame of both the sofa and armchair are incredibly sturdy and the springs in each are perfect. But I do have big plans for this set. I’m planning on having them reupholstered in a dark gray velvet and have the back of both pieces tufted. Not too unlike this beauty …

I’ll be getting a few reupholstering quotes in the coming weeks and I’m hoping the cost of reupholstering both pieces will be exorbitantly cheaper than buying a brand new sofa (which I’m not totally against, but the past few months have been very expensive so I’m trying to keep costs down. I might splurge on a new footstool).

In the mean time, I’m happy to keep a peachy sofa set in our living room. And so is Juniper, in case you were wondering.

Image four credit.

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