Two-Thirds Feel Guilty For Getting Rid of Sentimental Items, So Resale Stores are Thriving

​By Robyn Budlender

Most of the items within the average American household arrived there secondhand, a new poll suggests—with 66% reporting that more than half of the items in their home were previously owned by someone else.

In the survey of 2,000 respondents, three-fourths of people (77%) reported forming emotional connections with the items in their home, regardless of whether or not those items have been used.

Maybe that’s why almost two-thirds (63%) feel guilty tossing an item that “still has a little bit of life left in it,” or that could be passed on to another household.

One in five (20%) even experience significant guilt every time they declutter—which for half of respondents happens once every six to 12 months.

And, 39% would part with one of their belongings if they believe “someone else will enjoy it more” than they do.

When it comes time to declutter, respondents are most likely to relinquish clothing (46%) and papers or other files (44%) above other items like books (29%), toys (25%) or appliances (24%).

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of resale company Winmark, the random double-opt-in survey also confirmed that a whopping 92% of respondents have shopped at secondhand, thrift or resale shops—which a third (33%) believe are among the “most fun” stores to shop at—at least once in their lives.

RELATED: More Than Half of Adults Would Welcome a Pre-Owned Gift

“Shopping at your local resale store is a great way to keep money circulating in your home community,” Winmark Chief Executive Officer Brett Heffes said. “In particular, it cuts down on shipping-related fuel and packaging consumption, which can be just as wasteful as the product manufacturing process itself.”

Four in 10 purported to be frequent secondhand shoppers, with almost one in 10 (11%) claiming they “exclusively” purchase pre-owned items.

Among those polled, secondhand stores are also thought to offer the most value (37%), just ahead of dollar stores (36%) and outlets (34%).

INTERESTING: Six in 10 Americans Believe They Can Build Generational Wealth in Several Ways

Although 33% consider an item’s value to be of top importance, sustainability also plays a meaningful role in consumers’ choices.


1. Clothing – 46%2. Papers/files – 44%3. Books – 29%4. Toys – 25%5. Hobby equipment or supplies – 25%6. Appliances – 24%7. Kids’ items – 24%8. Furniture – 22%9. Sports/exercise equipment – 20%