The 'brand new' generation

Many years ago, I bought an amazing second hand couch for $300. It was velvet and I hadn’t seen anything else like it. I loved it dearly and still consider it my greatest secondhand buy. I haven’t lost the thrill of a bargain since, however recently I have been noticing a worrying trend – there’s a new generation forming in people aged 15-40…they want everything brand new.

One case in point was a few weeks ago, my daughter went to give some of her old baby clothes to her cousin, who is expecting a baby boy. My youngest grandson was born 3 years ago and Clara doesn’t need the clothes anymore, so what better thing to do than give them away, free of charge, to our family? You wouldn’t believe the horrible response she got that brought her to tears. Her cousin may as well have thrown the clothes in her face – when presented with a neat package, she looked at the clothes and said “We have money, we don’t need your charity”. She had rejected near new baby clothes and items that would come in handy because she thought Clara was insinuating she was poor just through this simple act! My God. She ended up buying everything new (for the princely sum of $500) while Clara’s baby clothes were given to an actual charity!

This led me to think, are hand-me-downs dead? Are we so proud that we can’t accept useful things from our family? I enjoyed passing on my little trinkets and beloved clothing to my daughters and all through their childhood, they wore each other’s clothes, and not a single school uniform was worn by only one of them! Hand-me-downs used to be the thread that held a hard-working family together. Receiving a well-worn jumper from your brother or cousin was just as good as getting one new, except even more so. It was just a nice and sentimental thing to do, let alone a cost-cutting one! Are these values that we have lost? Are we scared to give our belongings to others lest they be offended?

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When I thought about it, our dear cousin was only doing what everyone else her age does. She wanted new because new translates to better in their eyes. But from my own perspective, I couldn’t afford new and when you are on your last dollar trying to support your child, you learn to scrimp and save where you can. I’ve even seen 40 year olds with the same thought process – they drive on by a bargain because it isn’t 100 per cent new in package. We are so wasteful already as a society, so it pains me to see precious items go to waste in charity stores. Young girls especially are only interested in second hand items if they’re vintage and expensive, otherwise they turn their nose up at it.

Going to the tip shop, garage sales and secondhand stores is one of the things I enjoy most. I revel in my purchases and feel good when I’ve saved myself money and gotten a bargain. Babies don’t know any better, so I still don’t understand why it matters what you put them in, as long as they’re warm and comfortable! It’s snobbery of the worst kind.


What do you think about this author’s points? Do you agree? What do you think has happened to hand-me-downs? What have you seen in your own family? Share with us below.