PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Buying gently-used items to save money is not a new concept.

Thrift stores and consignment shops have been at it for decades, but more and more major retailers are starting to offer used items for sale in their stores.

Retailers call them refreshed or refurbished items and you can get them almost anywhere now. Growing in popularity are used electronics, things like televisions and cell phones.

It’s possible to get some good deals, but consumers need to know where to look.

“Returned, refurbished, remanufactured, open boxed, all kind of the same thing; so, they’ve been owned for a short time,” said Lance Ulanoff, of PC Magazine.

Ulanoff says these days “used” does not necessarily mean abused.

Just about every major retailer and manufacturer now sells refreshed or refurbished products that may have some damaged packaging or may have been used as floor models but function the same as their brand new counterparts.

“Savings can be really significant, anywhere from $20 to hundreds of dollars, depending on what you get,” said Ulanoff.

On sites like RefurbDepot.com, a refurbished Cuisinart coffeemaker is selling for prices like $42.99. It normally sells for about $100. One Sony eBook, which retails for about $300, was selling for just $98.99.

“Movies, phones, CDs, digital cameras, printers, pretty much anything you can buy – you can get refurbished,” said Ulanoff.

“It’s checked out by a squad agent; its functional, has no scratches or dents, we put it back,” Bryan Ledgister, of Best Buy, said.

For instance, Best Buy has what they call an Open Box program. A product that has been opened for any reason or discontinued by the manufacturer is sold for at least 10 percent less.

“It gets discounted week by week if it’s not being sold,” said Ledgister.

Despite the savings, some shoppers remain a little skeptical of giving a refreshed gift for holidays or birthdays.

Ulanoff says as long as you shop with a reputable retailer, there’s very little risk involved.

In fact, many major retailers are willing to offer the same warranty coverage on refurbished items that they would offer on regularly-priced items.

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