Secondhanding is one of the best ways to score unique finds - and everyone who does it has their own unique perspective!
That's why we're kicking off Secondhander Spotlight, an ongoing series that goes behind the scenes of buying, selling, and transforming the treasures right in your own neighborhood!
(Want to be featured? Drop us a line right here!)
At our latest event, we caught up with a couple of NYC secondhanders who know a thing or two (or ten) about scoring deals and upcycling their finds to build a one-of-a-kind collection of personal creations.
Let’s meet Patricia and Isaiah!
Patricia and Isaiah
New York City
Are you more buyers, or sellers?
Patricia: I would say we’re both. Because we mainly buy stuff, but then we typically sell stuff to make room for it. If we got a new table, we’d sell our old table. Even if we’re not making a ton of money off of it, we would rather make sure it gets to somebody than just end up on the sidewalk and go to the landfill.
Isaiah: Zero waste.
P: Yeah, we’re pretty minimal. We’re really intentional about what we bring into our home.
How often do you secondhand?
P: I’m on letgo almost every day, because you never know what you’re going to find on there! And I use it predominantly on things for our home.
Do you have a favorite find?
P: I’ll probably say this dresser that we got off of letgo a couple months ago.
It was just a plain pine IKEA dresser that I wanted to refinish. And when I went to pick it up, I told the seller, and she was like, “Oh, well here’s a sander you can have for free!”
It was a really cool experience, and also, it’s a great dresser! All in all, even with painting and changing the knobs and the Uber to pick it up, the total was cheaper than buying anything new.
Why are you drawn to secondhanding?
P: Our priorities aren’t spending a ton of money on furniture. We have other priorities! And you can pretty much find exactly what you want without compromising on style or spending a ton of money.
I: There’s also value in having things that other people don’t. And having pride in making something from scratch, and creating that story, sharing that story with your friends, and showing them that there are amazing things around them.
P: I think people sometimes equate having a “nice” home with needing a lot of money. But if you’re willing to put in the extra effort, to take the extra step to buy secondhand and just go pick it up, you don’t need to have a huge income.
You mentioned a zero-waste lifestyle earlier, too.
I: We believe in being sustainable. Creating a more sustainable household and lifestyle.
P: It’s a cyclical economy thing, too. Not everything needs to be replaced. You can fix things, you can redo things, you can spruce things up. If you’re intentional, and you want to put just a little extra time into something, you can get so much more out of it.
It’s so easy for your first thought to be, “Oh, I need something new. I’m over it. It’s not gonna work, this color’s not gonna work, it’s not my vibe anymore, whatever.” But if you actually take a second to think, “How could I kind of revamp this without having to go out and buy something new and generic,” you can save money, and you can do a lot of things.
I: There’s so much you can discover, and these older pieces that can be revamped and reimagined make you more creative. They put you in the driver’s seat, and you’re creating instead of just consuming.
Do you think that’s becoming more popular?
P: A lot of people don’t realize how easy it is. Shopping your neighborhood, shopping your surrounding neighborhoods, it’s not that complicated. And everything we’ve bought on letgo, we’ve brought home in an Uber. So it’s not as challenging as it may seem.
I: And with our own friends, seeing really is believing. As soon as they see the piece, they’re like, “Okay, I get it! Teach me!” I think there’s definitely a revival of people being interested in turning over their furniture instead of just throwing it out and buying everything brand new.
P: Especially because buying everything new, everyone ends up having the same stuff.
Got any tips?
P: One thing I always do, and I did it for that dresser, is I look up how much it would cost retail and how much it would cost to get it to my door. And in that case, that would’ve been $200. But I got that dresser for $75, and I put about $15 of supplies into it. So when I factor in those costs and the transportation costs ahead of time, I can see if it’s worth it to me.
Sometimes people give up because it seems like so much work without enough of a payoff, but if you’re really thoughtful with how you do it, you can save a lot of money and make it really worth your while. There’s some stuff that I love, but it’s too far to be worth it. So it’s one of those things where you have to pick and choose what’s worth it, so you’re getting that payoff.
Thanks again to Patricia and Isaiah for sharing your story!
Want us to be featured in our Secondhander Spotlight?
Pop right over here and tell us a little about how buying and selling secondhand has changed your own relationship with stuff!