I’m not proud to admit that on more than one occasion, a secondhand item popped up in my marketplace feed that caught my eye, and somehow convinced me that I needed it. Yet, deep down, at my core, I couldn’t tell if I was convinced, or the thrifty impulse troll was whispering sweet nothings in my ear.
Regardless of my slight unease, I would make the trek, hand over the money, engage in conversation with a stranger, get in my car and almost immediately knew…the impulse troll had won.
Maybe you’ve been there too, or maybe you’re a responsible, level-headed adult who thinks before making decisions. Regardless of whether you suffer from an impulse troll or not, here are 4 questions you should ask yourself every time you think you want something.
1. WHERE IS IT GOING?
I have some audacity to ask you this question, because I’m incredibly guilty of buying things without knowing where they’re going – like this settee I picked up last weekend.
That troll whispered sweet nothings, and I dragged Angelo with me to pick it up even though I had NOWHERE to put it.
He was thrilled, particularly after we realized it wouldn’t fit in my car.
He looked at me and said “we can’t take this, it won’t fit” and I couldn’t help but laugh because he actually thought we were leaving without it.
We then went to a local Home Depot to buy straps, loaded this settee in my car and drove 45 mins home with the trunk open.
Would you believe he became even more thrilled once we got home and I told him I didn’t know where it was going?
If you’re not certain about where said item will go, think about where it could potentially go. Can it replace something else? Do you have room to store it if you don’t know where it’s going just yet?
I’m certain this is type of mentality is how I will end up divorced and on an episode of Hoarders.
2. IS WHAT YOU’RE BUYING WORTH WHAT YOU’RE PAYING FOR IT? COULD YOU MAKE YOUR MONEY BACK IF YOU SOLD IT?
When someone shares a secondhand furniture find with me KNOWING that they got a good a$$ deal on it, I could scream.
Last week someone sent me a photo of a directoire style commode in excellent condition that they got for $150 from Craigslist. I’ve seen similar commodes go for about $2500. Not only did they get a great deal but they could absolutely make their money back + some if they decided to sell it one day (as long as it was still in good condition).
If you’re not sure if something is worth what you’re paying for it, google the item and see what similar items go for on sites like Chairish. Seriously, go browse sections of Chairish and pay attention to photos, descriptions and prices. Over time, you’ll start connecting the dots while you browse Craigslist and Marketplace.
Someone listed the above dresser for $3,950 on Craigslist and claimed it was lacquered.
Now, two things:
1. A professional lacquering job is not cheap, and I could tell by the photos that it was not professionally lacquered. Lacquer has a glossy, mirror-like finish and when done by a professional, is absolutely not streaky
2. It’s chalk paint. Probably a DIY
Nothing against chalk paint, but chalk paint should never be confused with a high quality, costly lacquering job. What bothers me about this listing is this person was trying to claim that it was professionally lacquered and tried selling it for way more than what it’s worth. The dresser itself was gorgeous and was worth something, but with a DIY chalk paint job – not anywhere near $4k.
On the contrary, here’s a story about my all-time-favorite secondhand find: Lee Jofa Althea drapes.
I didn’t even 100% know if they were Lee Jofa OR the right size for my window until I drove 98 minutes to this dude’s mansion in CT. How come? Let me tell you.
This was the listing photo and description:
It’s a miracle that the photo even caught my attention because it’s so shitty. But as fate would have it, it stopped my furious thumb scrolling.
My initial thought:
“Nah. No way”
Followed by a sudden realization that it could be a “yes way”
And then an immediate, quickly edited auto-reply message:
“hi! is this available? thanks!”
Another photo. Still looks like a toddler snapped it, but better than the listing photo.
It was available, but the details were nonexistent.
When I kindly asked for more photos and some measurements (he only shared the length, which were the size I needed), he replied:
“These are top shelf Lee Jofa.”
I thought, OK, WTF are we talking about platinum tequila??? Maybe he was sailing on his yacht and could only spew off auto-messages that include the words “top shelf,” but at least he confirmed they are Lee Jofa without me asking if they were Lee Jofa.
Still, the photos were so bad I was not 100% sure. Why didn’t he use the words Lee Jofa in his description if he knew what they were?
Now, look at the listing description – it says “$350 OBO.”
I politely asked him if he would accept $300 (and I wouldn’t have asked if it didn’t say OBO, I was well aware the fabric is $150+ a yard).
Apparently this triggered him, because his response was (and I quote):
“Do you have any idea what I paid for these and they r in mint condition 350 or don’t bother me”
Don’t bother me.
If I didn’t have such a strong, gut feeling that these were the perfect drapes for our living room, I would have replied to this Chadworth with a “thanks but no thanks, a$$hole.” But instead I took a deep breath and replied
“I understand! Do you have Venmo or Paypal?”
How degrading. But for these drapes? Worth it.
(I’d post a screenshot but I’m concerned he will find this post and sue my ass. All he would get from me of value are the drapes he sold me so joke would be on him. But, better safe than sorry).
Anyway, excitement sprung me right up at 6 am sans alarm and I drove 1.45 hours to Chadworth’s residence.
Our interaction was brief and cordial – he handed me the neatly folded drapes and asked if I wanted the matching 120″ valence. I said “no thanks!” like a certified moron (one of my biggest regrets) and I was on my way home, reassured that I should always follow my gut who seems to have a higher IQ than my brain.
You have not experienced FUN until you wake up at the ass-crack of dawn to drive 3+ hours to buy designer drapes from a seemingly douche-y stranger.
Another twist – Nancy of Casacavaliere sent me a message saying this guy ghosted her about these drapes. She too, was asking for the size and he replied to her saying “they’re long.” LMAO.
3. WOULD YOU PAY FULL PRICE FOR SAID ITEM?
4. DO YOU LOVE IT *SO MUCH* THAT YOU JUST NEED TO HAVE IT?!
A DM that I receive often is screenshot of an item on FB MP with a follow-up message:
“should i get this?!”
I love to share my opinion on secondhand finds, but I always feel weird answering these because what if I say I love it, then that person goes to pick it up, then they realize they don’t love it? Or it doesn’t work in their home?
You should buy something because you love it.
What defines the meaning of loving something so much that you just need to have it? For me, I equate this feeling to the first time I saw my husband (yup, awwww).
I saw him and thought “sweet mother of pearl that is the most beautiful man I have ever seen and I’ll be damned if he’s not my future husband.” So, (true story) I created a fake Facebook profile and stalked him until he eventually succumbed to marriage.
Apparently Facebook stalking is the glue that’s brought my life together.
I’m not comparing my love for an inanimate object to my husband, I’m saying you know that feeling when you just fall in love with someone or something. You just know. You don’t need to be head-over-heels-stars-have-aligned for something to buy it, but it definitely helps to solidify your decision.
Check out these other thrifting-related posts:
- 5 Things to consider when shopping online for antique art
- 8 Items I search for on Facebook Marketplace + the keywords I use to find them
- 8 Tips for sourcing quality furniture on Facebook Marketplace