Recently I became curious about people's attitude towards buying second hand goods. Some call it pre-loved or pre-owned. Whatever you call it, it's not first hand, fresh from the factory.
When I was young, using hand-me-downs (mostly clothes from siblings and cousins) was the way of life. New clothes were confined to uniforms or Chinese New Year outfits. For my case, my eldest sister made one outfit for me every single year until I was 14. When I was 15, my sister, Elaine gave me 50 bucks to buy clothes and that was the year I discovered I could wear anything I wanted on Chinese New Year and not be at the sartorial mercy of my eldest sister. Our toys were discarded ones my mother's employers donated to her. Either that or she dug them out of their dustbins. We were not fussy about how my mother obtained them. I always thought she was very resourceful. One year, my brother wanted a bicycle and she wheeled home an old bicycle which still worked. I told her I wanted a doll and she came home with one minus a leg or two. At the end of each year when we got our textbook list for the following year, the first thing we did was to contact our cousins to get hold of their textbooks. One year when I was 14, my sister had the balls to ask my neighbour to give me a few of their textbooks. When I had my two kids, we asked many people for their unwanted baby stuff especially clothes. And when we were were sure we no longer would have any more kids, we gave everything away.
So using second hand goods was never a problem with me. But we never paid for them. They were always free.
The year we moved into our flat we did consider buying 2nd hand furniture. I don't know what it's like in other countries but in Singapore, it's not so common to buy 2nd hand furniture. Firstly, where would we go? We tried Salvation Army and you have to remember it was 1998. The place smelled so bad that we (okay, it was just me) ran out gasping. I haven't been back since then so it's possible the ventilation is much better now. Anyway, we ended up buying from Ikea.
I think the first thing I ever bought 2nd hand was a book. In the old days, books were far more expensive. As I read a lot, I would visit bookstores that rented out their books. If you return them within a certain period, you get some money back. These books were quite expensive to rent like $17 for a novel. If you're not late returning them, you'll end up just paying $3 to $5 for them.
Times has changed.
These three 2nd hand novels cost me just $10 in total. And I get to keep them forever.
The second used item I paid money for was a Osim vacuum cleaner. I paid $200 for it. The actual cost was way, way more. It was around one year old and in good condition.
In Singapore the attitude towards paying for pre-owned items has probably changed as there are many flea markets selling 2nd hand goods. I'm only guessing the attitude has changed due to the presence of such flea markets. As for me, I never could bring myself to pay for things like used clothing or even accessories or bags. It's not so much the money but I couldn't imagine being able to wear a total stranger's clothes. Which is strange as my mother had over the years given me clothing from people I don't even know. I mean if the clothes came from someone who had died, she sure wasn't going to tell me. I also felt icky about using someone's bags. Like god knows what it once carried or maybe the owner had died or something. Yep, extreme paranoia.
Oh, here's a side story. One year I was possibly 10, my mother sold my favourite Chinese New Year outfit to the karang guni man. He's basically someone who goes door to door asking to buy used goods like books, clothes, newspapers and electrical products. And he usually doesn't pay much money. I had worn the outfit to death and it was too short and too tight on me already. My mother decided to sell it for whatever reason. The following day, I saw the karang guni man's daughter wearing my favourite outfit. Demmit. She had taste too. I felt so insanely angry when I saw my outfit on the girl who was my age and slightly smaller than me. She probably love the outfit to death because she wore it every single day. Every time I caught sight of the girl in my favourite outfit I would think stuff like: she wants to be me. It was so crazy. I felt she was stealing my identity. I never got over it.
I think I've changed a little bit. A short while ago, there was a flea market below my flat and this lady was selling stuff she no longer wanted - clothes, shoes and this bag!
It looked quite new. It's a huge bag which is a necessity for me as I carry a jacket and a large scarf and boxes of panadols and my giant wallet and an umbrella and several pouches when I go out. I'm usually not so keen on the plastic texture of the bag but this one had birds and flowers. And it's HUGE. The lady wasn't asking much money for it so I bought it. I asked her if it was her bag and she said yes and I don't think she was lying. Okay, she could have been lying but the important thing is I believe her. I said why don't you want it anymore and she DID NOT say it once carried something dead so I bought it and I've used it many times since. It smelled quite nice too. Yep, did the smell test.
So I was on a roll and when I attended my son's school carnival not long ago, I had no qualms paying coupon money for this beaded bag. I forgot to do the smell test because it was in a plastic casing so I got fooled. Unfortunately it does smell a little. I think the fabric is suede and I really like the beaded embroidery. I will need to "smoke" out the smell first before I could use the bag. Geez, I hope it didn't once carry something dead.