How to buy second-hand safely

The trend for buying vintage is thriving in South Africa and it has extended into smart shoppers buying well-selected, pre-loved or used items as gifts for family and friends at a second-hand store. Choose to spend your hard-earned cash at reputable second-hand goods dealers and you should also be reassured that you are not risking an encounter with stolen goods. 

“The possibility of stolen property ending up in the second-hand industry is remote because we have procedures in place in line with the Second-hand Goods Act,” says Peter Forshaw, Chief Financial Officer and founder member of Cash Converters.

Industry cooperation with the South African Police Service protects customers, he says. This means reputable second-hand dealers carefully screen goods they purchase, reinforcing these well-established buying processes with electronic stock systems and close-circuit video.

“Self-regulation plays an important role in our industry,” says Forshaw. “Sellers must produce identification when parting with items they no longer want, which we hold items for seven days before they are offered for sale.

“We are founding members and chair of the National Association of Franchised Second-hand Dealers and committed to working closely with the police to avoid stolen goods end up in the hands of our valued customers.”
The Second-hand Goods Act aims to ensure that goods bought or sold by second-hand dealers are not stolen. Every dealer in these goods must be registered with the police and keep a register of goods with the details of the seller, the goods and the date and time of the transaction.

Current economic pressures mean that more and more people sell goods that they no longer need, instead of simply giving them away, says Forshaw. Some sell quality electronics when a new model arrives on the market. Some sellers want to downsize, such as people who get divorced or move to a retirement home. Others are selling goods because they need cash urgently. This has been reinforced by the growth in online buying and selling of pre-loved items, which has demonstrated how much fun it can be fun to buy something rare or different – and also that receiving cash for goods you no longer need certainly feels rewarding.

“People who buy used goods understand their intrinsic value – in other words, that a good second-hand purchase can make your money stretch further,” says Forshaw. “They know they do not need the latest model of an electronic item, for instance, to be effective. They recognise that used electronics of good brand quality will still give them good service.”

Vintage collectables, such as vinyl LPs are also much more than thrifty purchases – they have become sought after and fashionable items. Customers are reassured about searching out items for their collections by the new generation of second-hand shops that are customer-friendly, well-lit shops in mainstream malls, where people can sell and buy used goods in an open and warm environment. The relationship with customers has also changed, says Forshaw.

“We build long-term relationships with our customers and treat them professionally and with respect,” he says.