The Non-Consumer Advocate Gets Intimate at Target

by Katy on August 6, 2011 · 26 comments

The following is a reprint of a previously published post. I actually did go buy a new set of underwear yesterday, so I figured it was time dust off this old gem.

I’ve been a member of  The Compact, (buy-nothing-new) over the past two years. This has meant that I really don’t buy anything new. No new clothing, no new gifts, no new toys.

Yup. Nothing.

But there’s one item I most definitely will not be buying used:


Yup. Even I am not that extreme.

I’d been chugging contentedly along with my used purchases, perfectly happy, not a care in the world. And then it happened, somehow I had not a single pair of panties I could wear without fear of accusations of taking things a bit too far. Because yes, I strip down to my skivvies at work. (Before your imagination starts to take over, I’m an RN and change into scrubs in a communal locker room.)

And it’s not like I started out on my Compact journey with new underwear anyway. They were already, um . . . let’s just say they were already starting up their AARP membership.

I like to procrastinate errands until I can batch them, and I finally had enough to justify powering up the ol’ mini-van and hitting the road. One errand I’d been particularly dreading was a Home Depot run to return a box of too-big dimmable compact fluorescent light bulbs. I completed this dull errand, and I’m walking back to the car when I notice that there’s a Target store in the same complex.

Hmm . . . I’m already here, I might as well just get it over with and buy some new underwear.

So I took a deep breath and aimed myself across the lot, and entered the holy grail of consumerism.

I walked right past the carts and the baskets and found the intimates department. And what-do you-know? They were even on sale! I quickly found an acceptable panty packet, (buy 6, get 1 free!) and carried my singular purchase to the check-out line.

I paid my $6, declined a plastic bag and walked back to the car.


And you know what? I had thought I would have to work to consciously ignore all the tempting shiny objects, but there was absolutely nothing that caught my eye. Nothing.

So now I have a brand new pair of underwear for each and every day of the week.

Yup. I’m set for the next two years.

Do you have things you would never buy used? Tell us what your Compact exceptions would be in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Sarah August 6, 2011 at 4:50 am

I’m with you on the underwear and would add socks to the list, too. There are other things I will buy used, but will sanitize before using – dishes, shoes, sheets…


Stephanie August 6, 2011 at 5:33 am

Besides the obvious undies and socks, I won’t buy shoes used. It’s probably not for the reason you’d think though, sanitation. It’s because someone else’s foot has already made its little happy spot in there and squished it in all the right places for her, and when my foot gets in there it will just never be the same. It won’t be able to conform to my foot the way it should, and that’s just not right. Also, I won’t buy bathing suits used for the same reason as undies.


dustimc August 16, 2011 at 4:08 pm

My mom said the same thing (and its true) so when, at age 26, I found some brand new shoes at a thrift store, I didn’t dare tell her where I’d purchased them.


Susan August 6, 2011 at 7:12 am

Pillows for my bed! I don’t like the idea of someone else’s drool and other body fluids on my face when I sleep at night. That’s just me, I guess.


Jenny August 6, 2011 at 8:58 am

Wow, my list gets longer the more comments I read. Yes to only new undies, bathing suits, pillows, and sometimes shoes.


Laura August 6, 2011 at 9:53 am

Almost anything with fabric is out due to bad allergies, although for the right price I might take a chance on ebay after asking the seller. Some mold/mildew is hard to get out in the wash (borax is my next thing to try when I’m in that situation) but it is also hard for non allergic people to smell.

Thrift stores, libraries, and some older buildings have me reacting the moment I walk in from dust or mold, so it’s a judicious use of ebay, Craigslist, and ebooks for me.

That said, I do enjoy hearing about other’s thrift store finds!


Ellie August 6, 2011 at 11:48 am

Let’s seee…undies (ew), socks and shoes (more on that in a minute), pillows (for the reasons described above), helmets and maybe some other kinds of safety equipment, and certain kinds of cleaning and bathroom supplies.

I have, shall we say, an ISSUE with socks and shoes. Namely, I have had all kinds of problems with fungus (apprently, I’m genetically predisposed to it – ew, right?). I just do not want to take chances with footware of unknown origins, period. (Although I will accept second-hand stuff from someone I know well enough to ask a bout things like toenail fungus.)

I won’t do second-hand helmets, because you don’t know if the helmet has been in a crash and has hidden damage, or if its old and deteriorated in ways you can’t see. I get a brand-new helmet every few years, whether my old one looks damaged or not. I imagine there may be other kinds of safety equipment that I would apply this to that I can’t think of off-hand.

Finally, I just really don’t want somebody else’s used broom, mop, or cleaning bucket in my house. I also don’t want somebody’s used shower curtain, much less a used toilet plunger. I don’t know if you count stuff like that as part of the compact, but even if I were doing the compact more strictly than I am, there are certain things that are used in the bathroom and/or for cleaning that I just won’t touch second-hand because – rational or not – it skeeves me.


Laura August 6, 2011 at 5:48 pm

I agree in general and don’t blame you about shoes, but in case others are interested, I take comfort in completely washing down “almost new” shoes (worn once or twice then rejected and put on ebay) in rubbing alcohol before wearing as a precaution against fungus.


Linda August 6, 2011 at 12:08 pm

Most of the stuff that has already been mentioned but I will not purchase or take home used furnature with material…like a couch, chair, mattress unless it is from a family member or very close friend. This is because of bed bugs! I bought a desk/table from a yard sale and I kept it out in my van for a few weeks (we don’t use the van too much) in the heat to kill any little critters that may have been in the wood.

I am really obsessed with bed bugs so material items that cannot be thrown in the washer and dryer are out.


Linda August 6, 2011 at 12:12 pm

Oh I forgot! I am looking for some wing backed or small chairs for my bedroom. I see them all the time outside people’s homes for free. I would love to pick them up because some are just what I am looking for but the whole bed bug thing stops me.

There is a furnature consignment shop near me and I keep forgetting to stop by and ask them what they do to insure that there are no bed bugs in the furnature. I will probably buy some new chairs, even thought it’s killing me that there is all this used/free items around that would more than fit the bill.


Teresa August 6, 2011 at 1:56 pm

We were sort of afraid of that too, but we live in a relatively rural area and it also it gets pretty darn cold where we are most of the year too (so a lot of the bugs freeze out). So, we took the plunge and bought a used mattress and box spring for our daughter (it was only one year old and in perfect condition, but the person selling it was moving across country and not taking all their stuff with them). The person we bought it from still had the receipt and had paid $500 for it just a year before and we bought it for $200. Had it a half a year now with no problems and is super comfortable.

Next, we purchased a loveseat for our office that was used for $50 that the owner was selling because it would not fit in the narrow hallway of the apartment she just moved into. It was in perfect shape and we were delighted to get it and she was delighted to get it out of her apartment.

I too will draw the line at undies though, but most anything would be fair game. It all depends on the item and the person selling the item – some people are exceptionally clean so an item can be almost like new anyhow without the retail price.


Ellie August 6, 2011 at 5:26 pm

Regarding second-hand upholstered furniture:

There is a third option besides “used as-is” and “new”.

If you realy want to go second-hand but are afraid of bedbugs, I urge you to look into reupholstering! You can often get a much better VALUE – if not the cheapest price – by doing your research and reupholstering a quality frame.

I don’t know what price level of new furniture you’re considering, but one thing I do know from experience is that if you have access to a good-quality chair or couch frame (either inherited, or picked up somewhere for free or near-free), the cost of reupholstering is often less than the cost of buying the same quality new. It’s also “greener’, because you’re recycling the frame and springs and only getting new fabric and padding.

People often look at the price of reupholstering and compare it to the price of new, and say “new is cheaper”. Well, it depends on what you’re comparing! New furniture can be had for very little money, but that cheap furniture usually comes with the hidden “price” of poor quality. High-quality new furniture – stuff with a well-made frames in solid hardwood – is often very expensive, and it can be more frugal to get a high-quality second-hand frame reupholstered.

As you can see, I’m a big re-upholstery-pusher! When I needed furniture for the house, I looked into this matter, and chose to get some solid old things reupholstered. I was lucky enough to inherit some old stuff in shabby condition, and I got some more shabby-looking old stuff off Craigslist for a song – it literally looked like garbage when I got it, but I had it reupholstered to look gorgeous. I paid more for my reupholstering than a lot of my friends who got “good deals” on new stuff at big-box furniture stores….but less than a decade later, their stuff is all literally falling apart underneath them, and they’re looking to buy new all over again. My furniture is still solid as a rock, and will probably outlive me.

Just something to think about/look into!


Jo August 6, 2011 at 6:06 pm

In agreement with the upholstering. Also you generally have more choice as to colour and fabric.


Stephanie August 6, 2011 at 5:35 pm

They have racks and racks of underwear at Goodwill and I always wonder who in the heck buys them. Someone else’s skid marks are not my forte.


Practical Parsimony August 6, 2011 at 10:30 pm

I just bought a bag of 8 pair of new underwear yesterday. When I pull up my panties and the elastic starts pulling away from the fabric or a huge horizontal split occurs about three inches below the waistband, I am pretty well assured it is time to buy. I won’t buy used socks either.

Our town had a used shoe store. Some of the shoes were dilapidated, but all had new soles, insoles, and all were disinfected before sale. There were gently-worn shoes with new insoles–returns. Then, there was a whole other category. New shoes in the original, unblemished shoe boxes with no scuff marks on the sole of upper and no foot imprint.

I asked about the apparently new, unworn shoes. These shoes had two beginnings, but both ended up in the used shoe store.

One group had been used to make pictures for catalogs and had never been on a foot, just photographed. The other group had been used for one walk down a runway. These two groups are the only types I bought. My son’s blue suede Sunday shoes are the most memorable.

I do upholster myself, so am never afraid of furniture, especially free or dirt cheap antiques. I never buy new pillow forms. My favorite place to buy used pillows was in a rundown, poor, part of of a larger town in a minority neighborhood where my girlfriend and I shopped though it was dangerous. I handled sofa pillows with two fingers, carried the bags gingerly and put them in the trunk. At home, I washed them and hung them on the line–no odor, no infestations, no problems. I got really expensive forms for a quarter to a dollar.


Linda H. August 7, 2011 at 7:10 am

Underwear, pillows (bed or throw), upholstered furniture. I know someone who bought a couch at the Salvation Army and it was teeming with fleas that infested her house. I’ll never forget that.


Lisa August 7, 2011 at 9:10 am

Panties, socks, pillows – all have to be new for me. That being said, I’m considering sewing myself some new panties. I have a pattern and the fabric.


mom to five August 7, 2011 at 12:45 pm

I am pretty strong of stomach, so I would buy almost anything used for myself. Washers, dryers, bleach, and prayer are good enough for my own sense of propriety for my own body. But I don’t buy used things for the granddaughters. It actually wouldn’t bother me if they were my children, but DIL 1 gets snippy easy, so I have to be very careful about what I buy just to keep DIL happy, and peace in the family. DIL 2 is awesome, and doesn’t have attitude, so I could get yardsale things for her child, but I try to be equal and fair between all the kids/grandbabies just to avoid issues in the family. For some reason our one son married a girl who is difficult to please, and so we are very careful about what we buy for them or for the grandbabies. She’s a nice girl, but she was raised in a different way where they only purchased new things of high quality because her family had lots of money.


Kathryn August 7, 2011 at 1:28 pm

I’m with pretty much everybody else: I won’t buy used underwear, swimwear, towels or bed linens (unless I’m going to repurpose them as rags, curtains, etc.), or mattresses. I will buy used upholstered furniture, but only if it’s pet- and smoke-free–and I always inspect carefully for signs of bedbugs and vacuum it thoroughly before bringing it into the house.


asrai August 7, 2011 at 2:42 pm

Children’s car seats. No way to know if it’s been in an accident.


Stephanie August 8, 2011 at 1:04 pm

Frugal tip- sign up for the coupons from Victoria’s secret! I go and get a free pair of undies (no purchase necessary!) every few months. It is nonconsumer-tastic! 🙂


Marisa H August 11, 2011 at 6:40 am

Some types of cooking equipment because I am gluten free, so no non-stick pans or cast iron, cooking machines like bread makers, etc.


Vicki August 11, 2011 at 12:26 pm

So interesting to see what people are comfortable with…


Erica August 14, 2011 at 3:24 pm

I don’t buy used underwear, but I DO make my own underwear from used tops. I bought some fancy-pants underwear from etsy for special occasions, but my easy to make cotton panties do the trick for everyday.

Although I generally try to not buy other things new, if I have to for whatever reason I just try to make the best decision I can. Especially if we’re investing in something that we expect to last, like a bed or pillows. The rest of the time I get it used or just DIY.


dustimc August 16, 2011 at 4:21 pm

I’m interested in how you make Indies from shirts. Do you use a particular pattern or did you make your own?


Lisa@Granola Catholic August 20, 2011 at 7:39 pm

I would say that there is not much I won’t buy used, but underwear would have to fit that category. Most other things can be sanitized if need be. I have to say my house has been decorated almost exclusively with hand me downs and items that have been found or thrifted. My favorite thing to buy used though is probably kids clothes. They only really rent their clothes anyway, so why buy new?


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