updated 30 May 2011, 09:20
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Mon, May 30, 2011
New Straits Times
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So what if the bag has been used?

HIGH-END designer handbags are much coveted accessories. Unfortunately, not everyone has thousands of dollars to spare. That's why many celebrities, models and girls on the streets are turning to secondhand shops to get their designer fashion fix.

Although some do it very discreetly, others find it acceptable and trendy to purchase used clothes, jewellery, bags and even shoes.

Co-owner of Scoop, Melanie Hon, says she got into the business of buying and selling used things because it made sense to reap and recycle.

"If you can get designer items for a fraction of the price, why not? It's a win-win situation because owners have the opportunity to recycle their items while buyers get to own something that would otherwise be out of their budget.

"Although we buy and sell all types of accessories, handbags are our top selling item. You'd be surprised to know that our customers are men and women from all walks of life, ranging from housewives to celebrities.

"These days we see many Japanese expatriates and Middle Eastern tourists frequenting our store as well. Many are willing to pay between RM2,000 ($818) and RM20,000 for a used designer handbag.

"Most of them prefer vintage designer bags, which increase in value, like Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Prada and Hermes."

One of Scoop's loyal customers is Diana Tay who works in the insurance industry.

"I enjoy shopping for designer handbags, I suppose it's just one of those things that you either love or are nonchalant about. I often come here to browse around and usually get tempted to buy something.

"I don't believe in spending too much on an item, so this is the best way to do it. I think more women should pamper themselves by owning at least one designer handbag," says the 30-year-old.

Used designer handbags are usually sold on consignment, Hon adds.

"I'm willing to keep a bag in my store for up to six months. If I still don't have a buyer I'll return the bag to the seller.

"We get quite a few walk-in clients hoping to sell items purchased on the Internet or catalogues because what they saw wasn't what they got.

"However, most sellers are upper-class women who are either designer item collectors or those who've received these items as gifts.

"In this line of business we hear all sorts of stories, sometimes we rather not know why they want to sell their designer goods, so we refrain from asking a lot of questions."

One such seller was a bitter wife who swiped her supplementary credit card to buy a RM29,000 handbag before leaving her husband.

Although some may be apprehensive of buying secondhand items, Hon says, there are many ways to tell if something is original or not.

"After being in this business for five years, I can almost immediately spot a fake bag. There are a few tell-tale signs, for example the lining in the bag, stitching, zippers and serial numbers."

Mary Ann, 25, is a firm believer in buying secondhand items over the Internet, especially jewellery.

"You'd be amazed at the endless options for jewellery sold over the Internet. Most of the things I buy are from sellers in foreign countries so it's more unique, too. Plus, I'd rather save time and buy online rather than run from store to store looking for something that catches my eye.

"I spend an average of RM150 to RM200 a month on online purchases. Some of my friends think it's embarrassing to buy used stuff, but I have no qualms about it.

"After all, many of the rings and bracelets I buy are still in their original packaging. But I try to use the same websites each time because I'm quite afraid of credit card fraud."

-New Straits Times

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