Used Furniture – Not Just a Thrifty Option

I’ve been buying used furniture for a while now. Actually, I’ve been doing it for so long that Reuben, the Salvation Army clerk, and I are on a first name basis. Oh, and he delivers my treasures in his Chevy van for a nominal fee.

I will never forget the day that one of my sons had a play date and his six year old friend looked up from his snack, and said ” You sure have a lot of old stuff in your house. In my house, my parents rip out all of the old and put in brand shiny new stuff.” And I had just moved into my new – albeit filled with old stuff- house.

Terrific.

So, why do I buy old? First of all, it’s a long tradition dating back to my mother, who escaped the insanity of her eight children by flying off to the thrift shop and buying used office furniture. It was cheap. It was local. The older women who worked there had encouraging words for my mom, still in the throes of child-rearing and housecleaning.

I used to pick out a stuffed animal that always smelled like moth balls, while my mom found treasure after treasure: the crystal chandelier that hangs in her foyer to this day or the glass door knobs that took a master carpenter to figure out and install.

I was lucky that I was the oldest and that the five kids after me were all boys, because our used furniture store time was my secret time with my mom. It was where we traded secrets and treasures.

My mom found old, used furniture that my dad used to call junk. We would haul it down to the basement, cover the floors with newspaper and paint it, or just refinish it. And we would unveil it in front of the boys and my dad as our masterpiece. And then, and only then, my dad would ask “And how much was that?” He always seemed to doubt the answer though. He always looked secretly proud of the $25 bargain.

Fast forward now twenty years. My husband laughs that our house is a center hall colonial, much like my parents. Even his office is filled with second hand office used furniture. I laugh that I have six kids, not eight like my mother…but close enough. I laugh that we will never have deep pockets to furnish this house from top to bottom in that brand new showroom look. I love used furniture, used china. I love imagining who used it before me and what their life was like.

I hide out in thrift shops and Salvation Army stores when the kids get rowdy. I am secretly proud that my eleven year old daughter says “how seventies” my old, used living room furniture is. I love that she sees something old and just assumes I would love it. I also love how the thrift shop tradition has passed on to us, and we spend hours sometimes trading secrets as we peruse the Salvation Army store looking for used furniture.

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