Second Hand Shopping for Experts

Why are people shying away from buying used furniture today? Well even charity organizations like the Salvation Army are said to be picky so what could be the issue/ consumers have found a better option where they can buy great furniture at an affordable price so no more hand me downs.

Whether moving to a smaller abode or simply cleaning out, many people are making an unwelcome discovery: Their prized family heirlooms have turned into junk. Upholstered sofas, formal dining tables and hutches, Victorian-style mahogany and oak furniture, entertainment units, bulky television sets, pianos—all have become almost impossible to sell or, in some cases, give away.’

What happened to the market for secondhand furniture? Those consumers are shopping at Ikea, Wal-Mart and Target, says Jerry Epperson, a partner at Mann, Armistead and Epperson, a Richmond, Va., investment bank specializing in the home-furnishings sector. The cost of furniture, in constant dollars, has fallen on average about 50% over the past 30 years, he says, the result of the availability of cheaper imports.

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Even if there are people who still buy second hand furniture there are things they should not buy. These are things like mattresses, car seats or drop side cribs.


Cribs – especially the drop-side kind – are frequently on recall lists, and the reasons why are pretty terrifying. For example, in April, Nan Far Woodworking recalled their drop-side cribs for repair. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission had this to say about it:

The cribs’ drop sides can malfunction, detach or otherwise fail, causing part of the drop side to fall out of position, creating a space into which an infant or toddler can roll and become wedged or entrapped, which can lead to strangulation or suffocation. A child can also fall out of the crib. Drop-side incidents can also occur due to incorrect assembly and with age-related wear and tear.

Car seats

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says car seats can be safely reused after minor crashes – if the air bags didn’t deploy, no one was injured, and the car drove away. But it recommends car seats be replaced after moderate crashes.

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One should not be discouraged. As much some people look down upon buying used things, it is still considered smart buying when certain used things are bought. This includes furniture and fitness equipment.

Whether you prefer a vintage look, hate the idea of perfectly good tables, desks and dressers going into a landfill, or just want to save money, second-hand furniture can be a great alternative to buying new. In general, pieces made of wood or metal will be your best bet. Patio furniture that’s free of mildew also is a great category to buy used. Mattresses and upholstered items like sofas could carry pet dander — or even bedbugs — so proceed with caution.

Sports and Fitness Equipment


Buying a bike or a kayak with a few miles on it, or a weight-training circuit that’s been sitting in someone’s basement collecting dust can save you hundreds of dollars. Website sells refurbished workout equipment like stationary bikes and elliptical machines. At, you can search a nationwide network of stores where you can buy everything from shin guards to surfboards — especially handy if your kids are outgrowing their equipment as quickly as their hobbies are outgrowing your budget. The one caveat here is helmets: You need to buy those new because there’s no way to tell if the structural integrity has been compromised.

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Don’t just go blindly and make a second hand purchase. There are rules on how to do so effectively such as what to look out for and sitting on the furniture.

Thou Shalt Look for Tags – This should be first on the checklist: flip the piece over and see if there’s a tag. If it says IKEA, boohoo. If it looks like it’s from the 70s and reads Thayer Coggin, put a sheet and some caution tape around it as camouflage, then run — don’t walk — to find someone help you haul it home.

Honor Thy Lines – It’s all about looking past the baby-puke green or cat-shredded fabric that’s on it now, and envisioning what it could look like in a luxurious velvet material, or a solid neutral. Squint if you have to. The top picture is something I found on Craigslist a ways back. I loved the tufting and smallish scale for a Chesterfield-style sofa.

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