Vancouverites twice as likely to resell used items than donate compared to other Canadians, study finds

Ninety-nine per cent of British Columbians exchanged at least one item in the second-hand economy in some way last year, according to a new study by the online sales site Kijiji.

Online sales site Kijiji studied second-hand economy across Canada

Ninety-nine per cent of British Columbians exchanged at least one item in the second-hand economy in some way last year. (ThredUp/Canadian Press)

The second-hand economy has moved far beyond the occasional garage sale and hand-me-down, with more Canadians than ever buying, borrowing and selling used items.

Ninety-nine per cent of British Columbians exchanged at least one item in the second-hand economy in some way last year, according to a new study by the online sales site Kijiji.

"Virtually everyone has participated in one way or another. It could be buying, selling, donating, receiving, swapping, all that kind of stuff," said Marie Connolly, one of the lead researchers of the study and professor of economics at the University of Quebec.

Across the country, donations are the most common way of passing on an item. 

But Vancouver is an anomaly compared to other Canadian cities, says Connolly. Half of all items repurposed in the city are resold — nearly double the national average. 

"Vancouverites are more likely to sell and it really stands out when you look at the chart by national average and the breakdown by city," she said.

The study showed Vancouver way ahead of other Canadian cities when it came to reselling over donating. (Kijiji)

"We don't have hard data on the reasons but one thing that I could think of is the high cost of living in Vancouver.

"Maybe Vancouverites are trying to make an extra buck by selling their stuff rather than donating when they want to dispose of their items."

Families with children are the most involved in the second-hand economy, Connolly said, with baby clothing one of the most popular items passed on. 

Gaining popularity

Angie Heintz has been reselling used children's clothes, toys and shoes for more than a decade from Beansprouts, her consignment shop in Vancouver.

Once a month, her shop holds special consignment days when anywhere between 100 to 300 people show up to sell items.

"From what I hear from people, if they have spent money on things they do feel better about knowing where it's going, as opposed to just sending it to those [donation] bins," she said.

"There definitely is something to feeling comfortable about getting some money back on your investment as well," she added. 

Heintz said she has noticed a significant shift in customers' perceptions toward buying second-hand items recently.

"When I started, it wasn't quite as acceptable to buy second-hand baby things, especially for gifts," she said. "This is the first year where I feel like I actually want to promote it more."

Before, Heintz said, the fact that the items were second-hand was seen as a drawback by many customers.

"I didn't want to scare people away with a sign on the door that said 'Used,' whereas now, in 15 years, this is the first time where I feel like I could put that on the window," she said.