But data suggests it's a fast growing area of retail: Shoppers seem to have resale value in mind. According to a survey conducted last year by market research firm The Intelligence Group's Cassandra Report, 44 percent of 900 shoppers between the ages of 14 and 34 think of resale value when they purchase things like electronics, furniture and clothing.
Shannon Dolan, who lives in San Francisco, said she'll buy a Louis Vuitton handbag over a Gucci one based on how much she believes it will command if she resells it.
"It absolutely changed the way I shop," said Dolan, who has made $10,000 on online luxury resale marketplace TheRealReal by selling clothes. "I'm really thinking of the value and investment of some of the things I'm buying."
Resale sites have taken note. The sites marry the discounts found on resale online king eBay with tighter controls. Luxury sites like Portero and TheRealReal, the largest seller of authenticated luxury resale goods with business expected to reach $100 million this year, have staff to make sure designer goods are authentic.
And the sites have all kinds of tricks of the reselling trade. For instance, TheRealReal said it doesn't carry even some higher end brands including Escada, St. John and Max Mara because they've been inconsistent or have lost buzz, and thus, don't command high resale prices.
Conversely, the ones with the most value in pre-worn clothing and handbags are: Chanel, Hermes and Louis Vuitton. In shoes, it's Christian Louboutin, Wainwright said.
Some shoppers say the sites make them more comfortable about spending money in traditional stores.
Amy Fine Collins, a special correspondent for Vanity Fair magazine, sold a Chanel handbag on Therealreal.com for about $1,000, a few hundred dollars more than she originally paid for it at the store. She had the handbag for about a year.
"I don't have to get a nose bleed at the prices the way I used to. I know there's a strong secondary market," she said.