Your neighbours are doing it. Your friends are doing it. Your spouse has probably done it, online, more than once, without you even knowing... Canadians coast-to-coast are saving and earning big-time bucks via our thriving second-hand economy. To celebrate 10-years in the business, Kijiji, an online marketplace for buyers and sellers of second-hand goods, recently put out some very impressive facts about what Canadian second-hand shopping practices look like.

Check out these stats:

  • Every minute, Canadians spend approximately $57,000 on second-hand products.
  • The second-hand economy is worth $30 billion annually (15 per cent of the value of new goods purchased).
  • 2 ads are placed on every second!
  • The average Canadian grants a second life to 76 products annually via buying, selling, trading or donating (the highest numbers being in the Prairies and Alberta - nice going, guys!)
  • The average family of four saves $1150/year buying second-hand.

So what the heck is your excuse for not buying pre-loved merchandise?

From sporting goods to clothing to electronics to cars (even homes!) to furniture and more, there are thousands upon thousands of great finds online. But if you're a second-hand newbie like myself, it can be pretty confusing to know how to find great items, that are great quality at great prices.

Let's break it down...

Sellers: Spring is a great season to dip your toes into the world of second-hand money making. Trust me, that souvenir puck from an NHL game you attended in the 90's or that old set of golf clubs are just waiting to be transformed into dollar bills (or I guess loonies to be more accurate). Open up that garage, clean out the house, rummage through the basement and surely, there is money waiting to be made. Not sure whether an online site like Kijiji versus a garage sale is right for you? Here's my suggestion: higher ticket items ($30 +) do best on sites like Kijiji. Save the real bargains for a garage sale. Professional garage-salers will come early, come hungry and with mostly small bills, so do not bother to put an antique hutch on the driveway and expect someone to offer you $500 for it. If however, you've got some better quality, larger items that you feel could fetch some bigger bucks, then snap some well-lit pics, write a catchy description (be honest) and upload to an online site. If you've indeed got a great in-demand item, within minutes, your inbox will begin to fill up faster than a hungry kid at a pizza party!! If you've got any of the below items to sell, there are buyers aplenty waiting in the wings to buy!

Most Searched Items Online:
Leafs/Raptors Tickets (events)
Lululemon Clothing (apparel)
Lego (toys)
Nikon (small electronics)
Fridges (home)
TV (large electronics)
BMW (most searched item overall)

Here's how the second-hand economy can work for you, using my own example:

Two of my boys need bigger bikes this season. Instead of handing down their too-small ones, I can re-sell them online, at a garage sale or through word-of-mouth. I would expect $25/bike to be reasonable. So that's $50 earned. Next, I went online to Kijiji and found a seller offering two higher-quality youth mountain bikes for $100 (for both). I know that I could likely offer him $75. I went to research the bikes he was selling at a leading sporting goods retailer and they were listed for $299 each, brand new. Schwinn bikes! Factor in the fact that if these bikes were abused like the ones my sons had, then I'll likely need $50 in tune-ups from the bike shop. In the end, I could purchase new bikes for $600 (which is crazy given how fast my boys are growing), or I could get the 2 for $75, add in those tune-ups at $50 and pay $125. Don't forget the $50 I hope to earn selling their old that pays for tune-ups! So we're back at a net loss to me of $75 for two great bikes. Sounds like a deal!!!

Just like sellers, Spring is the season to be out with the old and in with the (somewhat) new. In fact, there really is no good reason to buy certain items brand new. If the kids need bigger bikes, or the baby could use some bigger clothes, or you're looking for that perfect wrought-iron bench for the garden, your very first shopping destination should be the second-hand market. Any item that is outgrown quickly can typically be found used/online for a fraction of the price of a brand new item, and in excellent condition too! If you love home décor then second-hand furniture, rugs and draperies are just a click away. Every time you see a contractor in someone's driveway, there's a better than good chance that the home-owner has decided that last year's wall-art just won't suit this year's paint colour - which means you could be paying 50-80 per cent less than retail for high-quality items! I recently turned to social media to find out why people shop for pre-loved goods online versus at garage sales. The consensus was that while garage sales are a fun way to pass a lazy Sunday morning, you can't shop with specifics in mind, or you might never find anything you like. Think needle-in-haystack browsing. Whereas online, you enter your criteria into a search field and boom - local results are just a few clicks and kilometres away.

Top 3 reasons why people buy second-hand:

1.    Saving money
2.    Ecological benefits
3.    The thrill of finding a great deal

Best deals: Let's face it, once out of the store or off the rack, there is a huge depreciation in value on certain items. You can literally save 50 per cent or more on nearly new items that have barely ever been worn or used. The hottest deals can be found on...

  • Designer clothes (the boutique charges top dollar, but let the original buyer pay that premium!)
  • Jewellery (especially fine jewellery/gold)
  • Baby Clothes (most baby clothes are worn fewer than eight times before outgrown)
  • Furniture (my sister-in-law haggled her way to a gorgeous teak dining table for $700, even though the seller was asking $2000!)
  • Cars (once off the lot, even a car with 1000 km on it will have depreciated by 25 per cent)
  • Sports equipment (a baseball bat is a baseball bat...but a used one is only $10!)
  • Tools (a hammer is supposed to hit nails, why get a shiny new one?...likewise a used power tool can save you hundreds and still get the job done!)
  • Books & toys (then you can re-sell them when you're done with them!)

Now, not everything should be purchased second-hand no matter how great our desire to save money, help the environment or how big the thrill of the hunt. Any item that's purpose it is to provide safety, or where safety can be compromised, should NEVER be purchased second-hand. The same goes for anything hygiene related...that's just gross. Would you want to sleep on a used mattress, covered in invisible dust-bites, dead-skin cells, save a few bucks? Ewww... If you have bought a used mattress before, do not ever invite me for a sleepover.

Never buy: Cribs, car-seats, helmets, mattresses, bedding, bathing-suits or underwear (do I really need to list these?).

Ok, so who's ready to shop? Now you're armed with some info to get the ball rolling on your second-hand buying and selling. It's a fun, safe and easy way to earn extra money and give a new life to products that somebody wants!

Would love to know what your greatest finds were. Share them with me on Facebook (Kasie Savage) or Twitter (@KasieSavage).

For more information on Canada's second-hand economy, visit: