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Shopping for Used Furniture

Shopping for Used Furniture

February 8, 2022

One of the best ways to find a bargain when shopping for used furniture or vintage items, is at Estate Sales.

But during the height of the pandemic,  I couldn’t go to them. Then I discovered Online Estate and Liquidation Auctions. Been addicted ever since.

There are some real drawbacks to online used furniture shopping. Every time I have purchased a piece of furniture for myself or my daughter, I have had to spend a great deal of time on restoration. Images never quite tell the whole story. Descriptions are minimal at best, so you have to rely on their images. The devil is in the unseen details in used furniture.

One marble top, Victorian bedside commode table I picked up for a song, looked great online. But it was not usable unless we completely dismantled and re-glued the piece back together to make it more stable. “Wobbly legs” was all the listing said. That piece ended up being placed curbside for free.

But I’ve also picked up a few gems. One Lane, Mid Century Sideboard was picked up for $230 at an online auction. It barely fit in our car and did take 6 hours to clean up and restore. In mint condition, these beauties sell at $1600+.  Now  it happily resides at my daughters place.

Online Auctions have become so popular now that many pieces are way overbid. So knowing the market price is paramount to not over spending or getting stuck with something you can’t use. Plus most online auctions have a buyers fee of 15-20% plus sales tax unless you have a resale number. You can get some great deals, but it’s a gamble.

So when the pandemic ebbed, we started to going back to “in person” Estate Sales. I honestly do like these in-person sales better.  Seeing the vintage furniture and home decor items in person and up close gives you a better idea of color, condition and size. Images will never be able to capture what you can see and feel in person.

This last weekend, I found a fantastic, Sheraton style, 1920’s flip top chest of drawers. Since it wasn’t “Mid Century Modern” and was also completely scratched up, everyone at the sale ignored it. But I kept coming back to it.

I noticed it was solid, hard wood American Mahogany, with dove tail drawers.  Real quality with classic lines. I thought I try to clean it up for my daughter and offered them $20. They accepted.  I took it home and after only 45 minutes of cleaning and oiling (using Howards products), it looks nearly perfect and was quite beautiful.

When my daughter declined it, I sold it on Facebook Market place for $100 within hours of posting.

I’m sad my daughter didn’t want it. But happy someone else, who also love quality antiques, bought it.  Had I not seen it in person, I would have passed on it.

If you like resale and vintage furniture and home decor, shopping in person matters. Wonder if I’ll find another treasure this week?