A couple of weeks ago I was talking to a young woman who was getting ready to move into her first "grown up" apartment. She was lamenting the fact that furniture is so expensive. I asked if she had tried looking at thrift stores and consignment shops in her new town. The look of horror on her face was not what I expected. "I never buy used stuff! You don't know where it's been!" Fair enough and true enough for some things but I wanted to sit this girl down and explain the benefits of shopping "out-of-the-box." (I hate myself for typing that phrase. So sorry.) We weren't in a good setting for me to lecture her - if there is such a setting. But, I'm going to type out my reasons in an effort to convert someone - anyone! Or not. At least I'll get it out of my system.
- Think things through. Have you eaten in a restaurant? stayed in a hotel? spent time in the hospital? If you have you've been "exposed" to second-hand: flatware, dishes, glasses, napkins(if cloth), sheets, comforters, towels, rugs, and gowns. I know this is a real issue for some people and that they go to great lengths to work around these situations. However, most of us never give it a second thought. We trust that these things have been thoroughly cleaned before we use them. Most things you buy in a thrift store or a consignment store are easily cleaned and ready to be new-for-you.
- Variety. Buying second hand items opens years and years and years of style up to you. You are not limited to current trends as you are in a retail store. If you hate farmhouse style - you can seek out mid-century or baroque furniture and find some excellent bargains. The same holds true for clothing - with some work you can find the colors and cuts that suit you - not the models in the latest issue of Vogue.
- Environment. Reduce, reuse, recycle. You know the drill.
- Quality. Buying second hand furnishings opens up a lot of possibilities for folks on a budget. At a good estate sale, you can pick up a high end dining table and chairs for what you would pay for something from IKEA. (For the record, I like IKEA) Old chairs, dressers and tables have artisan details like dovetailed drawers that you don't see in most furniture stores. Again, this holds true for clothing. Would you rather have a gently used 100% cashmere sweater from the consignment store or an acrylic sweater from Target? The price is usually about the same.
- Fun. Shopping this way can be daunting at first but, the thrill of the hunt is what keeps most people going. Often, you'll come home empty-handed. BUT . . . it's worth it when you find that one perfect piece!
Below are some of my favorite finds - maybe they'll inspire you!