Buying 2nd hand goods

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  • Hi all,

    My wife and I are going to move to Cordoba in two months and I'm curious how the 2nd hand market scene works there. We both going to be students at UNC while working online to survive (as to make dollars/yuan). Needless to say we won't be rolling in dough and won't be arriving with much.

    Where we currently live (China), there is a huge online 2nd hand market for just about everything (there are public groups set up in WeChat, a WhatApp type app, people post picture/price of things they're selling) - anything from TVs and furniture to clothes and computers.

    Is it easy enough to buy 2nd hand things there? Local markets or shops, or online places? I've heard about the facebook marketplace (but for some reason am unable to access it - I'm still trying to figure out why) but am just curious what some experienced used goods shoppers might recommend.

  • Welcome to the forum Spixe

    The second hand market is thriving in Argentina and more so now due to the economic crisis. But it's a double edged sword because very often used goods are worth almost as much as new ones, cars for instance.

    On the other hand, garage and car boot sales are very popular and we are doing one next Saturday in San Isidro where used clothes dominate.

    Cordoba is probably the same and don't forget about Mercadolibre.

  • Hi, Spixe - - welcome to the forum! It will be good to have new members in Cordoba, a beautiful area rich in history.

    One thought - because you will be arriving “without much,” you could take advantage of the other side of the secondhand market: selling, not just buying. Clothing in Argentina is of notably poor quality and relatively expensive. People are always eager to buy clothes made elsewhere. While in China, why not consider buying clothes made for the US or UK markets and filling your allowed luggage weight with those, then selling on Mercado Libre or garage sales in Cordoba?

    If you happen to be in a part of China (e.g., Hong Kong’s Fa Yuen Street area) that manufactures name brand clothing for export and sells overruns for a song, all the better! Those are made to last and many are unique and beautiful. My husband and I still wear and enjoy a few things we bought in Hong Kong in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. People in Argentina would surely love to get their hands on clothing made that well.

  • The 2nd hand market here is pretty lively. As Splinter said, Mercadolibre is your friend. Sometimes FB Marketplace is also useful, however there are far more scammers on FB. ML takes a cut out of the seller's profit, so you may be able to get a better deal if buying outside of ML.

    Local FB groups are very popular here, and you can find them by searching by keywords (vendo todo Cordoba, compra y venta Cordoba, cheap 2 cheap Cordoba or similar). Most of the stuff is crap in poor condition, but sometimes you can find also nice stuff for less than their price tag. I recommend to join a FB expat group or two for expats in Cordoba as this is where you'd have more chance to find quality used goods.

    Since many people are cash stripped, used stuff is sold for an unusually high price compared to 2nd hand goods in the first world, where people have the money to buy new items and are less inclined to go through the trouble of a private sale.

    You should also beware of people trying to buy expensive stuff with fake dollars, people trying to pay with fake checks that seem to have been deposited but are then cancelled by your bank etc.

    Selling expensive items, especially electronics, is a pain and I don't recommend to bring in electronics just to resell them.

  • Thanks for all the advice and the warm welcome. Kind of scary sounding in a way, the level of quality (poor condition), prices (unusually high), and fake dollars (and didn't even know checks were still being used). We'll be extra vigilant if we decide to buy used then.

    I've been reading the forums here to learn as much as I could and I learned a bit about trying to contact Mercadolibre sellers outside the portal (I think that was in one of your posts Splinter). Thank you for the FB group names too serafina, I'm sure that'll be very useful. We don't speak Spanish yet (A1 level self study only), but that'll be our first 2 semesters (intensive and normal) at UNC so hopefully by the end of the year we will be better able to handle the local market places.

    We are going to bring about 8 suitcases with us to Argentina actually (paying for the excess bags), mostly clothes and some household things and small gadgets we can't live without (or don't want to rebuy there, I did some comparison shopping on ML and found it'd be cheaper to bring than to rebuy them). But maybe we can bring another full of items just to resell and help offset the cost of all the excess baggage fees.

    The thing about China's clothes is the "affordable" name brand ones are fakes. Nikes will either be cheap and fake (but still very high quality, most probably couldn't tell the difference) or extremely expensive and the price of a months salary. Would fakes still be welcome there and sell for a reasonably high price, assuming the quality is still good? Otherwise, what kind of clothes would sell easily? T-shirts? Sweaters? Any particular brand? Sorry for the questions, I can just imagine me packing up a suitcase of random clothes to resell and no one wanting them and having wasted a pretty penny on it, sounds like my luck. :S

    • Helpful

    Nike sneakers are definitely going to sell, although I doubt that the effort is worth the money, at least in my case. Too much risk of being scammed. Think about it this way: what would a 20 years old thug want? If it is something you plan on selling, stray away of those items. Apple, Nike, Adidas, Puma, expensive electronics just attract the wrong kind of crowd.

    I see among girls that Victoria's Secret fragrances and bags are on demand, as well as GAPS sweatshirts.

    Forget about luxury fashion names: I once tried to sell a pair of branded sunglasses and of branded shoes: most luxury brands are unknown here. I wanted to cry when I sold a pair of Italian leather shoes for 10 USD and I had to convince the buyer that it was such a deal. They were sold for €200-300 in Europe, and they were high quality (brand: Tod's). However, nobody in Argentina knows this brand and those who do, are the kind of people who take a jet to Miami to shop and aren't looking for used shoes on Mercadolibre.

    I can't remember the sunglasses brand, it was something like Prada. A name that would get a "wow" in the first world, but that says nothing to an Argentinian. It took months to sell and they went for 10-15 USD.

    Ironically, Ikea is a brand that sells well here and there is no risk of being accused of it being fake. Nobody does fake Ikea, but there is tons of fake Nike, Raybans, Vuitton etc.

  • Thanks a ton for that info serafina. That's pretty much what I was thinking would happen to be, end up arriving with a bag of name brand goods that no one wants that I'd end up having to sell for pennies on the dollar. Since I have no actual experience of what people want, I think it's safer not to take the chance of doing that, especially if chances are that if I do attract buyers, they'll most likely be thugs and the wrong kinds of crowds, ha. Thanks yet again for the advice!

  • I am very interested in spending time grazing garage sales and markets where old things (jewelry, paintings, books, etc) may be for sale.

    In the USA we have websites where garage sales locations can be posted. We also have many ‘second hand’ clothing shops.

    Do either of these exist in Argentina?

  • I don’t know about listings of yard sales, FScott , but there is an Argentine tradition called a “Fería Americana, which can take two distinct forms:

    a) a store selling used items, or b) an actual rummage or jumble sale.

    I haven’t yet found a Fería Americana store with anything interesting, but there’s is a 3-day Fería Americana rummage sale in Palermo once a month, held by the parish of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, to benefit the poor. I imagine there must be many similar events around the city.

  • We are in the process of furnishing an apartment and I have been browsing a lot of stores and the used market.

    For used items:

    1) Mercadolibre, by filtering "Condición > Usado"

    2) Facebook Marketplace, however it features a lot of sponsored (new) items and it is very distracting. It is also not possible to fine filter the seller's location. You choose a location and a radius, so it includes places in Zona Sur where I won't step my foot, ever.

    3) 2nd hand stores

    4) Ferias (either public or private)

    5) FB groups (by neighborhood or category - i.e. deco, furnitures, clothes etc.)

    1) Mercadolibre

    The advantage of Mercadolibre is that you can compare used vs. new prices, you have a 30-day return guarantee, the payment is not dealt in cash with the seller, you can read reviews of new items to get an idea of what you are about to buy. The downside is that used electronics do not come with a warranty, can be pretty beaten up or malfunctioning. By looking at used microwaves, some were chipped inside. I would never buy one in such condition, but I guess someone still buy them.

    2) Facebook Marketplace

    Less used than ML, doesn't allow to filter too much the results and looks dodgy. Okay for cheap stuff, but I would stray away in case of electronics or expensive items, especially if the seller's location is sketchy.

    The pro is that you can negotiate the price and there is no commission. The cons is that in case of defective items, you're on your own.

    3) 2nd hand stores

    I went to pawn shop yesterday, Compra Venta Express (Av. Cabildo 400, C1426 AAQ, Buenos Aires), and the stuff was old and very worn out. The sort of things that you would find in an old relative house that has been used for 40 years. The prices were utterly expensive for used stuff. Some stuff cost as much as new. Used electric kettles were sold from 6999 to 12000 ARS, when I have just bought a new one for 7200 ARS.

    Oportunidades (Av. Raúl Scalabrini Ortíz 2023, C1425DBB CABA) also sells used stuff and new stuff from overstocks. However, their price is not competitive considering that for 3-4 dollars more you can buy the same electronics new and with warranty.

    Used clothes: since I lost some weight, I am shopping 2nd hand clothes to have something to put on and see if I can hold onto my new weight before committing to a brand new wardrobe. I went to Cadaver Exquisito (Av. Raúl Scalabrini Ortíz 2018, C1425FBD CABA) and they had mostly worn out clothes, but also a few new ones from stock that didn't sell/auction. However, it is quite time consuming to rummage among the clothes and look for your size. I also visited Somos Cocoliche ( and the sweaters had lint. Not in a good shape. There are other used clothes shops in town, but I have never visited them. They are a nice way to find used imported stuff.

    At Cadaver Exquisito I bought a GAP sweater which was new (with a tag attached), which was sold for 8900 pesos (20 USd back then) because "imported", whereas used (but looked like new) Zara trousers were just 2200 ARS (about 5 dollars back then) and a pair of used jeans (no brand) 2000 ARS.

    Asides from used clothes shops, the other shops seemed a little out of touch with their prices. Perhaps there is an advantage to some, such as not getting tracked for their purchases. However, 99% of the items are old stuff, very worn out. They are not priced to sell, imho. They don't have a website and you have to visit their location to find out what they have available. As for small appliances, they only had very cheap used stuff (supermarket entry level brands from a few years ago). I don't get it!

    4) Ferias - As Rice explained, it is a broadly used term.

    The most famous ones are indoor markets such as Mercado de San Telmo or the larger Mercado de Pulgas in Palermo Hollywood. I found hard to shop there as often the booths are closed, with a signs that says to call to arrange for a meeting. Some also sell on Instagram or Mercadolibre. I haven't found them very well priced. Not all antiques were restored, some are just as good for making a bonfire. Still, they seem to think someone would be willing to pay for it. I have been several times at Mercado de Pulgas in Palermo Hollywood, but never bought anything. Chairs are still 100 USD a piece, even if old and in need of substantial restoration.

    There are some booths that sell actual nice stuff (the one that sells tea services finely decorated is on my top list and this one that actually restores furniture before putting them on for sale), for those who have a specific taste.

    For me, it is a place where you can find some old piece to use as a vintage decor or to wander on a Sunday afternoon.

    Some ferías are pop-up fairs in squares during the weekend. The most famous one is that of Sunday from 10AM to 5PM in San Telmo, around Plaza Dorrego and nearby street. Besides actual antique posts, there are also the ones selling incense sticks, handcrafted stuff, painted artesanal ceramics etc. Check your belongings at all time, since this is a touristic hotspot and there are many pick pocketers among the crowd.

    A third type of ferías are garage sales, except that in Argentina, for safety reason, nobody keeps their garage open. If the sale is on a small property, they showcase their stuff in the entryway behind a fence. If the sale is on a large property, there may even be security guards checking your ID and you may be required to register in advance. Rich people living in Zona Norte may have true gems for sale, like larger couches, fur coats, antiques, etc. I have only been to a couple, and the kitchen stuff (which is what I was interested into the most at the time), was the usual cheap stuff sold in supermarkets, just worn out.

    There are companies specializing in helping people leaving the country sell their goods, such as Maria Maranessi - she does a good job because she takes pictures of everything and put them on her website in advance. The prices for larger items are excellent, provided you have the right space where to put them.

    Another similar page to follow is J&F Ventas. If you are into auctions: Usá Usado Remates.

    5) FB groups

    You can find plenty by searching on FB by keyboard using Recoleta/Palermo/CABA + vendo/compro or CHEAP 2 CHEAP

    I feel that there is a bigger market in those groups than on Fb Marketplace, just because people do not know how to use Marketplace properly. Some groups are not well managed and are infested with irrelevant posts selling diets or tarots, so it may be time consuming and you could get too many notifications that are not of interested. Still, the convenience of being able to arrange a meeting on the same day, works pretty well.

  • Excellent breakdown of all the possibilities. serafina ! I’d love to come along with you when you’re on the hunt.

    I’d forgotten about Maria Maranessi’s sales. Never went to any, but because my Mother was an antiques appraiser, I was curious about - and impressed by - the quality of some of her actual antiques.

    Your assessment of the secondhand items available is painfully accurate. Good luck in finding a few good things to supplement the great things you’ll put in the new apartment!

  • According to the missus my late MIL was always going to auctions here. She hated being outbid so ended up buying lots of overpriced junk!!

    Best of it is she only actually used a tiny fraction of what she bought. There's tons of the stuff rotting away in several of the properties.

  • I find it very cathartic getting rid of junk. Car boot sales are great for that.

    The MIL's auction bought junk is mostly furniture. Some of it might have been nice when she acquired it however most of it is old and horrible. The years and years of being stored in unaired rooms have rendered it useless anyway. Muggins here won't be shifting it as it'll weigh a ton!!