How To Successfully Give Pre-Owned Gifts and Other Holiday Thrifting Tricks

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Giving pre-owned gifts seems to be a trend on the rise this holiday season. Roughly 78% of Americans said they are likely to buy pre-owned gifts this holiday season, according to a survey conducted by OfferUp, a mobile marketplace for local buyers and sellers in the U.S.

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“Resale has exploded in popularity over the past several years, but more recently we’ve been seeing greater interest due to rising retail prices, retail inventory shortages, and general economic uncertainty,” said an OfferUp spokesperson in an exclusive interview with GOBankingRates.

Additionally, they said that stigma surrounding buying and selling pre-owned items is dwindling. “Our survey found that 82% of Americans are more open to receiving pre-owned holiday gifts this year, which completely dispels the notion that pre-owned gifting is poor form or will not be well received.”

The reasons to gift pre-owned items are wide and varied. Consumers we spoke with mentioned that they will often gift a pre-owned item if it is hard-to-find, collectible, or sentimental.

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“I’ll gift pre-owned because it’s good quality and something I liked for my own kids, but maybe they outgrew it or we never really got to use it,” said Ilana Landecker of Island Park, New York. “I don’t [necessarily] do it to save money. It’s more to give someone something they likely won’t be able to find on their own easily, or something no longer made — something that was part of a set or subscription, a limited release.”

Likewise, people may gift pre-owned items that are recognized as the year’s most popular toys and tech, which are typically hard to find new in stores or online. The survey findings from OfferUp show that 29% of Americans will turn to resale apps to find out of stock items this holiday season, while 27% will buy pre-owned to avoid shipping delays for items on back order.

“You would be surprised to know how many people are listing popular or brand name items that are in brand new or almost new condition,” the OfferUp spokesperson said.

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Pre-owned or Regifted?

Christine Haynes of Suffolk County, New York, commented: “The best kinds of gifts are things you bought yourself and never used — gifts you know will fit the person’s personality better and who would love them more.”

The OfferUp spokesperson clarified the difference between re-gifting and gifting pre-owned items. “Generally, regifting refers to re-purposing or giving someone a gift that was originally gifted to you. Pre-owned gifting usually refers to gifting someone an item you originally purchased for yourself,” they said. Pre-owned gifting can also refer to intentionally purchasing items from thrift stores or sites like OfferUp, ThreadUp, and others, with the gift recipient in mind.

“Whether you’re re-gifting or gifting pre-owned, our findings show that both are perfectly acceptable,” the OfferUp spokesperson said.

Jen Snorteland-Kiepler from Merrick, New York, agreed. “Some of the best gifts I’ve received have been knowingly regifted, including silver platters from my best friend’s mom’s wedding registry in the ’70s. In fact, one of my best friends once gifted me a box with all the clothes she had stolen from me in high school. It was amazing.”

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But there are some tips to make sure you are doing it right, won’t get scammed, and can ensure your friends and family love their gifts.

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Examine Items Closely for Damage Before Purchase

Experts and shoppers alike agree that, whether you purchase online or from a thrift store, it’s best to examine items closely for damage or stains before buying. “Shop smart and take a good look at the photo, description, and condition of the item you’re interested in,” said the OfferUp spokesperson.

Avoid Scams

While many consumers said that Facebook “buy, sell and trade” pages are a good source of pre-owned gift items, scams can happen. “They take your money and vanish or send you something that’s not even at all what you were buying,” Landecker said.

She advised using PayPal Goods and Services to protect yourself in case the scammer sends a damaged item — or fails to send the merchandise at all.

The OfferUp spokesperson added, “In any marketplace, a person’s reputation is almost as important as what they are buying or selling. On OfferUp, you should check their profile to see the ratings and badges they’ve earned and take a look at their other listings.”  

Shop Safely

One way to avoid sending money and not receiving your merchandise is to shop through local resellers and meet in person. But it’s wise to exercise caution if you go this route. “Always use your best judgment before meeting someone,” said the OfferUp spokesperson.

Make sure to meet in a public place during daylight hours and let a few friends know your location — and what time you’re expected to return. Tell them you’ll check in when you’re finished.

“OfferUp partners with local businesses and police stations to create Community MeetUp Spots in your area,” the spokesperson added.

Combine Items To Make a Better Gift

When you’re buying pre-owned items or gifting items you already have, you can save money on your holiday shopping while giving more generous gifts to family, friends, and co-workers. In fact, more than half the people (51%) surveyed by OfferUp said they are turning to resale to avoid inflated prices.

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Haynes manages a “buy nothing”-style private group for Long Island women called “Hand Me Overs” on Facebook. She often combines items listed in her group to build gift baskets the recipients love. “In the end, the receiver gets a much higher value gift when free items are added to something I have bought,” she said.

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About the Author

Dawn Allcot is a full-time freelance writer and content marketing specialist who geeks out about finance, e-commerce, technology, and real estate. Her lengthy list of publishing credits include Bankrate, Lending Tree, and Chase Bank. She is the founder and owner of, a travel, technology, and entertainment website. She lives on Long Island, New York, with a veritable menagerie that includes 2 cats, a rambunctious kitten, and three lizards of varying sizes and personalities – plus her two kids and husband. Find her on Twitter, @DawnAllcot.
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