I’ve been thinking a lot about this subject in regard to guitars. Does it make sense to purchase a brand new Made in USA guitar, thus supporting US manufacturing, or a used guitar. There are benefits to both. Let me break it down the way I see it.
There are a few things that come to mind when I am buying anything. First, where is this item made (yes, I really do think this first as I like to support the US manufacturing industry). Second, what is the environmental impact of this product (how it was made, materials used etc). Third, price. I’m not including functionality/features because I wouldn’t even consider an item that didn’t meet those criteria to begin with.
Buying new you get the benefit of supporting any company/manufacturer you choose. This means in my case, I can hopefully support a US company that makes it’s products here. This helps keep money within the US economy and keeps jobs around. Without someone purchasing these products, the company would fail. But, the downside of purchasing new is two fold. First there is an environmental impact. Whether the product is made of virgin or recycled material, there will be some waste and energy put into creating this item. Second, it will no doubt be substantially more expensive than a used item of similar quality.
Buying used you get the benefit of supporting local business (assuming you buy from a local vendor), though not supporting the manufacturing industry. This is still keeping money in the local economy, and in some ways, much better than buying new direct from a manufacturer, because you are keeping the money VERY local, within your own community – directly helping people you know and see every day. There is also virtually no environmental impact, because this item has already been created. That burden (in my mind anyway), was put on the original purchaser of the item when new. The price will also be less, so there is a monetary incentive to go used. Now the downside is that, as mentioned before, you are not supporting the manufacturer at this point. If everyone did this, they would go under and eventually all used pieces would get sold/worn out and you would no longer have access to these products. The other downside is that sometimes it is hard to find exactly what you want in a used item, so you may have to make a compromise.
In the end, I normally tend towards buying used. Though if I can afford it and the environmental costs aren’t too large, I will consider buying new. In the case of guitars etc, I currently own a guitar that I purchased used. I have since upgraded many pieces on it, all of which were purchased locally and/or made in the USA. What it really comes down to is thinking about what you are buying and where you are sending your money/what impact your purchase has on the future.