For practically my whole adult life, it never occurred to me to buy furniture that wasn’t new. After all, who wanted something you spend a huge amount of time on, to have been used by someone else. This month I am moving from a furnished rental house to an unfurnished one, and so I needed to get a house full of furniture. I want to go with a tropical theme. I Googled the furniture stores on the island, and started my search. That’s the only way I ever bought furniture, except for stuff given to me by family, or the stuff I took from my childhood.
With one exception of course, always is. This was back in the late seventies, when I had acquired a farm and old farmhouse to go with it. I had enough of my old stuff to get by, wasn’t looking for anything. Didn’t really have the money to buy furniture anyway. One day, my Dad and I were picking up hay for our animals at another farm a few miles from mine, when the wife of the farmer (he wasn’t home) asked us if we were looking for any furniture. She had some old stuff that she wanted to get rid of. We really weren’t, but agreed to take a look anyway. There was about 12 pieces of beautiful antique pieces from bedroom to living room to dining room. “$350 bucks you can have it all” she said. I was no expert, but I wasn’t about to pass that deal up, so we unloaded the hay from the truck, and about 5 trips later, proudly looked at our fine purchase now displayed in my old farmhouse. We were feeling pretty good until the husband got home, and asked where the furniture he had inherited from his deceased parents had gone . Apparently his wife didn’t have the same attachment to the stuff as he did. One phone call to us, and we were hauling it all back. Got our $350 back, but no thanks or apology. That was the end of my buying used furniture.
As I bought houses, got married, had kids, I bought furniture like a lot of people. Brand new at a store. Cash, credit card, easy payment plan. Always on sale, made me think I was getting a bargain. Fast forward to my move to Maui. I still have my house full back in Minnesota, and decided the expense of shipping it was too expensive. So when I go back to empty the house, I am selling everything (except for my special stuff).
That brings me to filling my new house with furniture. The selection here is limited if you want new, which is what I have always bought. So I turned to a few of the used furniture stores that are popular in Maui. But I found that what they are asking for the stuff is like buying new back in Minnesota, and a lot of it is pretty beat up. One store has the furniture that the big hotels have had in their rooms, and sell it to this store when they remodel or upgrade to new. Very good quality, but your house is going to look like a hotel room. I figured that as long as I was going to look into the used route, I turned to something I knew a little bit about, Craigslist.
I had advertised a few things on Craigslist in the last couple of years, and sold a couple of them. Never did like that you didn’t know who you were communicating with, and a lot of them were people looking to sell you their services. I started to find some things I was interested in, contacted and bought some items, but then I discovered Facebook Marketplace. That is genius. Not only is it simple to use, but you can actually see who you are dealing with, and they can see you. After buying everything I need now for my new house, I will probably never buy a new piece of furniture again.
Putting aside the huge savings in buying used vs.new, it has been a wonderful experience meeting this large diverse group of people. From people living in multi million dollar mansions to people on the verge of homelessness. Every one of them have been interesting, courteous, honest, and fair. Being a dealership negotiator for 30 years, of course I bargained when I could, and did get some great deals. The reasons people were selling was varied, from moving off the island, moving on the island, getting new furniture, getting married, having kids, you name it. In all I purchased at least 30 plus items this way, all one at a time.
But the biggest pleasure that I will have is the stories my new home contains. Every lamp, chair, dresser, bed frame (My kids refused to sleep on used mattresses, me too. I ordered new mattresses and box springs on Amazon),mirror, table, desk, and more have a story each their own. I will remember the home they came from as I use them, and know they have dutifully served their purpose, and will continue to do so with a new person. Some of the pieces are very old, and may have lots of stories to tell. Each piece remind me of the flow of life. We are here as humans for a very short time. Some things outlast us, some don’t. Some will be passed down as treasured memories, some discarded in the trash, and others find new homes to serve. If I was a chair, I would hope I would be around a long time, and have lots of stories to tell. Of family dinners, new babies, relatives visiting, family passing on, kids growing up, quiet nights watching TV, reading, and maybe be owned by an author someday.