Second-hand show and tell

by DaniGirl on May 3, 2008 · 16 comments

in Consumer culture, Life, the Universe and Everything

Andrea over in the fishbowl is hosting a little second-hand show and tell carnival. (She’s endlessly creative and clever, that one!) She often blogs about the cool stuff she finds, either in second-hand stores or even on the street, and she’s invited us to play along:

The goal here is to open more people to the idea of shopping second-hand, to showcase what kind of stuff is out there, but also remind people to donate their goods instead of pitching them in the garbage.

I love the fact that people are getting more and more into curbside recycling of goods, not by dumping them into the blue or black recycle boxes but by simply leaving stuff at the end of the driveway with a “free” sign on it. Just last Sunday on the way to swimming lessons, we picked up a perfectly lovely soccer/hockey net for the boys, which I was planning on buying this summer anyway, that was left with a computer monitor by the curb. Sadly, the monitor was still there the next day in the pouring rain and I’m sure is now sitting in a landfill somewhere, but the soccer net will have many years of use with its adopted family.

Other goodies I’ve scored from the curbside include a set of hockey skates, a bookcase, and an electric lawnmower. (What a picture I was that day, pushing Tristan and Simon in the double stroller while holding the dog’s leash with one hand, while dragging the lawnmower behind me with the other. A lot of work, but FREE! And that perfectly good lawnmower lasted us a good two or three years, if you didn’t mind the duct tape residue on your hands every time you cut the grass.)

That’s not my second-hand show and tell, though.

In thinking about what I wanted to blog about, I realized that we’ve hardly bought any new baby gear for Lucas. Of course, we already have a lot of stuff from the big boys, but after two babies’ worth of wear, a lot of stuff was starting to wear out. The only major things we’ve bought new were a bouncy-chair-toddler-rocker because the original one wouldn’t vibrate, and a fancy Maclaren stroller I got on clearance at Toys R Us because the old umbrella stroller was nasty and the bulky one that came with our original travel system was starting to look a little worse for wear as well. But we’ve been given or loaned a swing, a pack’n’play, a sling, and an infant car seat.

Which brings me, by way of the dairy and the dell, to the thing I wanted to blog about for second-hand show and tell.

My friend Candice and I are often on the same wavelength. She and my mom are the ones who, when the phone rings, I already know it’s them. Candice loaned me a lot of baby stuff when Tristan was born, including an exersaucer, a pack’n’play and one of those high-end MEC baby backpack carriers, all of which enjoyed liberal use by both Tristan and Simon. Then she had the audacity to go and have another baby when I was pregnant with Lucas, thus reclaiming a good chunk of our baby gear. Most of it I was able to beg, borrow or steal to replace from other friends and relatives, but I was really bummed about the loss of the MEC baby backpack.

About a month ago, I was in a local consignment shop buying splash pants for the big boys when I happened to notice they had a baby backpack in perfect condition for sale at about half the retail value. I was thrilled and snapped it up. The saleslady said they had just put it out, and the woman who was selling it had used it only once and hated it, so it really was in brand-new condition.

I got home and picked up the phone to tell Candice about my score, and heard the broken dial tone that indicates a waiting message. It was, ironically, Candice. She was calling to tell me that she was in Boomerang Kids, another consignment shop across town, and that they had a MEC baby backpack for sale. It was the exact same model, even the exact same colour, as the one I had just bought around the corner. “If you call them right away and tell them I referred you, they’ll hold it for you while you come down and get it. They’re so rare and so popular, it won’t last.” The selling price was even identical to I’d paid for mine. The time of her call was within about 10 minutes of when I was buying the one I’d found. Weird. I haven’t seen one in stores before or since.

I was going to add more to this post by going on about the glory of garage sales – both hosting them and trawling them as a family expedition – but Lucas is growing tired of swinging in the borrowed swing. And now that I think about it, since it’s the first weekend of May, there may in fact be a few garage-salers willing to brave the risk of rain today.

Do you recycle your stuff? What’s your best second-hand score?

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mar May 3, 2008 at 8:01 am

I don’t usually comment but I just had to share!

That’s so funny about the MEC backpack. I work at Boomerang and just sold mine last weekend. I also only used it once and hated it!!! It was brand new and looked just like the one in your picture πŸ™‚ It sold within a couple of days. Now if only I could find a double Chariot!

2 DaniGirl May 3, 2008 at 8:15 am

Hey Mar, welcome! Funny, I was *just* on looking to sell our double Graco stroller and noticed this Chariot double!

3 andrea from the fishbowl May 3, 2008 at 9:51 am

Score! And a funny story to boot.

I think parents are the ultimate in the “passing around the stuff,” thing. Parents are just really open to this idea.

When Emma came along many many people gave us or loaned us their things. It was awesome.

And now that we’ve been in a position to give things our away (the crib, the exersaucer, the stroller(s), clothing etc), I am realizing what a great feeling it is to help a fellow parent AND get rid of stuff at the same time. πŸ™‚

4 Gliding through motherhood May 3, 2008 at 1:01 pm

Just got home from garage sales where we got a bedrail for $1, a sandbox for $2, metres of new fabric for under $10, and art easel for $12 and books for 25 cents each. I love garage sales! πŸ™‚
Most of Kiernan’s toys and clothing have come from garage sales – it’s so the way to go!

5 Batman May 3, 2008 at 2:21 pm

We were out garage sale-ing today too. We came home with a gaint pet carrier for $5, a CD for a $1 and a book or two. I love garage sales. I think we’re going to have one of our own this summer to try and unload some of our junk (one man’s junk is another man’s treasure). We also love second hand stores. In Manitoba it’s mostly Value Village and Salvation Army. There are loads of good deals at both though.

6 swirlgirl May 3, 2008 at 9:02 pm

the best thing I ever got a 2nd hand store was a piece of furniture I use as a bar…guess some mommy’s have different priorities!

7 Rev Dr Mom May 3, 2008 at 10:05 pm

When we lived in NYC in an apt., in our basement laundry room there was a table where people would leave things they didn’t want anymore. I scored some great books that way, and the Kid had fun b/c he could take something and if he tired of it we could put it back down there.

8 Shan May 3, 2008 at 10:21 pm

My best second hand score was the $10 27″ TV we got from the neighbour’s garage sale. My husband wheeled it home in the kids’ wagon. That was two years ago and it still works like a peach.

9 Theresa May 4, 2008 at 10:16 am

I’ve got a hand-me-down caution to pass along.

I know that many of us lend or give each other car seats, even though ‘they’ warn us not to, cuz you never know where it’s been….well I used my car seat (the 20-40lb. one) from my first son for my second son. I was meticulous about finding the best before date on it and making sure it was ok to use, and then apparently didn’t give it a second thought after that.

Last week my hubby went to lift the ‘drool bar’ on the car seat to put my son in, and the plastic just snapped apart. He was only lifting it gently. It was a pretty good chunk that snapped off too (and not at a seam either). I checked it out, and the harness still worked, so we could drive home and purchase another one the next day. But I was angry!! What if we would have been in an accident – would it have just snapped into a bunch of pieces??? So I checked the date on the bottom and it had been expired for 2 months….only TWO!

My caution is to be careful about checking dates on these things – cuz apparently when they say ‘best before’ they MEAN best before!!!

10 Kerry May 4, 2008 at 6:16 pm

I’ve got a futon frame outside my house right now. I had a carpet out there – it lasted for about 2 minutes before someone picked it up. The futon frame isn’t getting any takers so far though. Why outside? I had a freaky kijiji exerience where over 120 people emailed me in 20 hours and some dude was waiting for me outside my house when I got home from work. Enough said. Now I’m just putting the stuff outside.
Anyone want a futon frame?

11 Veronica Mitchell May 4, 2008 at 9:19 pm

There’s a great little consignment store in my neighborhood where I buy most of my girls’ dresses, as well as their double stroller. I wish someone had told me about it before I bought a crib – secondhand cribs are so much cheaper and just as nice.

We have also bought almost all of our furniture at consignment stores. Reasonably priced antiques just seem to last so much longer than new cheap stuff.

12 Cait May 5, 2008 at 8:23 am

Well, my apartment is pretty much entirely furnished courtesy of hand-me-downs and Craigslist…and the old second hand stuff is in way better shape 2 years after moving in than any of the things I bought new.

Interesting second hand story: At one point I happened upon a sandwich press at Value Village, priced at $11.99. Super excited, I snapped it up, and continued along my way to Wal-Mart. At Wal-Mart, the EXACT SAME sandwich press (except new, of course) was priced at $9.99!

I leave it to you to draw your own conclusions vis a vis Wal-Mart…

13 Sharon May 5, 2008 at 4:07 pm

Most of my…no all of my living room stuff. The Couch was given to us by a co worker of Jack’s. The chair is from my aunt. The Video cabinet came from Jack’s Uncle And all the tables too. In fact ALL Of our furuniture came from somewhere. Even Miranda’s bed came from Jooles in our MGW group. I haven’t bought ever. Although I want a new couch and loveseat from our living room…I’ve been eyeing the washable covered ones from Ikea. I want leather but with my boy there be a hole in before I could tell him not to put a hole in it. And I will pass my well loved cough on to my sister who has wanted for years. It’s a 4 seater which is almost unheard of these day.

Most of Miranda (when she was young) and Nathan’s now are hand me downs from friends and relatives. Miranda is an amazing Value Village shopper and my favorite pair of jeans are from there. I rarley buy new unless its a 2 dollar t shirt or a pair of jeans I found at GT for $3.00 for Nathan.

Great Blog Dani.

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