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Is Nearly-New Good Enough For Gifts?

by Sarah Handel
Dec 22, 2010

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A couple days ago, I was puttering about online looking for my sister's Christmas gift.  I knew exactly what I wanted, but its price was more than I could afford. So, I turned to eBay, where I found quite a few nice secondhand candidates. But I stopped before clicking the "Buy Now" button: Would my sister mind a lightly used gift?*

I'm sure it doesn't surprise you, but I'm not alone in considering not-quite-new presents for my family. And it's not just about tightening belts till cash is easier to come by, it's about "shifting from consumption to the reality that we can't spend the way we spent before," says John Gerzema, author of Spend Shift, to the New York Times. Secondhand stores are flourishing, reporting their strongest growth in five years.

But still, there's something that's a little awkward about wrapping up an old gift in shiny new paper. If the trend continues, that may not be true years from now, but I think in most families it's unexpected, at the very least. Have you been turning to thrift stores, yard sales and eBay for gifts? And have you discussed it with the recipients?

*For what it's worth, she didn't mind a bit!

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