Saturday, May 03, 2008
The Second Hand Show and Tell Challenge: The Unexpected Results Chez Good
Now, I cannot resist a challenge - especially not one that involves shopping, specifically for second-hand items. So Andrea's call to arms, to my mind, would be a cakewalk. We had a trip to Buffalo planned, and one of our favourite pastimes there is to check out the local estate sales. There, people tend to grow old and die happily surrounded by their stuff - they're generally not so keen to downsize and redecorate, as we find is the case in Toronto.
We've just finished a cosmetic renovation of the basement. Of course, going into debt so that Steve can, as he puts it, "take a $7000 shit" in relative splendor means not only that our budget's been tight, but that we've been de-cluttering and selling off or donating more than a few possessions. In fact, that's what all of these items have in common: they're all gone. That's subject matter for another post entirely - but honestly, going from this:
is worth realizing that it's really time to let go of my Fluffo box from March 1962.
And I LOVED that Fluffo box. For a while. I'm over it. Kind of. I took of pictures. Of every side.
So, I thought as I commented on the original post, that finding a great Danish Modern settee would be a fine contribution:
On the way to the Swedish place for a few other things (cough cough Havreflarns), I spied this in the window at Arcadia Antiques on Queen Street West. It was a third of the price of similar items in the neighbourhoods - meaning the East End "retro row" or the West End strip. I'd been haunting the classifieds, but nothing else seemed right. There are space issues. We hadn't really decided on what furniture was to go down there, but there was a good chance that with a budget of under $300, it was going to come from the home of my beloved sweet oat cookies and those Expedit shelves that are made for people who love stuff like we do. I'm always happy to buy real furniture that's already lasted at least forty years and will last as much longer with care, than something disposable (aside from bookcases).
We certainly don't need one more thing around this house for me to dust. After the reno, I have a lot of catching up to do. When your husband publicizes his band on the living room shelving unit, it's time to stop asserting "it's drywall dust" and just get to work on it.
But there was so much stuff at these sales, as is often the case, that called out to us "Buy me! Only you can appreciate me!"
Steve found some great wool trousers. Think slim cut sixties-style pants with a handsome black merino wool polo-collared sweater and pointy shoes, à la Dean Martin, if Dino were dressed casually...
And he was thrilled to find these records, especially after reading the Bonnie Guitar article in No Depression.
So, right and left, he and I snapped up things, some intended for resale at Winkel...
Some things were/are for me, because I love things like old hangers from hotels, and the Miami Beach locale on this one only makes it sweeter, knowing from all the Judaica at the sale that it was most definitely lifted by somebody's Bubbe:
Appliqued towels from the forties...never used...smelling of Grandma's linen closet still...
But as much as I'd love to keep the Danish silver and enamel bowl - it's the four turquoise melamine bowls that are staying for Boo Boo's food bowls.
And while I wore these lovely sterling earrings for that day, it was enough.
And the crazy lion bank, the teak bookends, the funky tablecloth, the sleek German stainless creamer and sugar with tray, and the chopper with the turquoise-painted wood handle...
...all were a pleasure to buy...then sell. Steve kept the vintage staples for his vintage staplers and I couldn't let go of the acorn shaped tea strainer. It's lovely when useful things are beautiful and have great charm.
Selling the vintage utensils with the bakelite handles, the fun vinyl coaster sets, the unusual silver implements...
...meant that I could keep the chartreuse platter that I really can use without guilt. That colour is one of my favourites for the kitchen.
And keeping this gorgeous Danish stainless bowl...
...means that I can let go of three pottery ones I won't use any more.
Finding a complete set of bar tools with great handles that we really like...
...means we can let go of some of the odds and sods. Or, down the road, if we find one of those "bar in a suitcase things", we can complete it with these and I can then sell it for more money.
Okay, and so a $9.99 black polka-dot purse came home with me from Target. How could I know I'd find the wicker one with red and white trim for $5 soon after at Antique World?
(By the way - that fabric? It's curtains. They're on their way to Kate's, for Henry's room. Another great find. We had them at Winkel, left over from a movie set sale. I never did anything with them, though I loved them and have had them for almost three years now. They're too short for my windows, and I could never figure a way around that that didn't involve a lot of work I'm not able to do. I'm glad they'll have a good home. And they're always welcome back.)
And that's all we'd planned to buy for a good long time.
Then the dryer quit.
The newish dryer - the one I was so happy with.
And I learned something. I learned it from the three repair men I spoke with.
I've seen the Story of Stuff. I know about planned obsolescence.
*sob* I just didn't think it would happen to me.
To repair the motor on the dryer, the part is $199. The labour is $150. The dryer cost $379 (on sale). Do the math.
It was explained to me that dryers these days, unless you get a shmancy Italian or German one, have a lifespan intended to last about two to three years. Washers, about five to six years. Frigidaires are the worst, it seems. Gone are the days when the Maytag repairman sat around - that reputation is fifteen years old.
So, I went on Craigslist, and Kijiji, and looked around. I found a person who refurbishes washers and dryers, and sells them at a reasonable price, guaranteed for three months. For $130 we bought a dryer I'm not afraid to write "Fud in heer" on.
I'm even down with the excellent retro graphic explaining how to push the "on" button.
So, I find it funny, ironic even, that Andrea, our lovely hostess for this challenge, with her own Maytag issues - should provide me with an opportunity to speak out further about waste and making responsible choices. I'm shocked that my best find is a boring old dryer.
But, as a few repairmen explained it to me:
It's more responsible to choose things that will last longer. That even though new washers and dryers are "energy efficient" - the cost and waste of being more disposable with a shorter planned obsolescence due to being not cost-effectively repairable is balanced in favour of the old ones. Either way, the consumer is going to put out more money. Further, this dryer ("Uggo", as I've dubbed it) can dry a huge load in 20-35 minutes. That is a shorter time by half than what the newer dryer used. So, energy savings? I think I'm still saving. This dryer, if serviced every five years at a cost of about $70, and kept free of lint build-up, can last me as long as fifteen more years. When my washer dies (in about a year, if all goes as three repairmen predicted), I'll do the same. I'll replace it with an older, repairable model.
What? What about saving water and energy? Perhaps that's not such a good thing, from my new perspective. As this Treehugger article notes, linking to the two I'd originally read a while ago - saving energy means a drop in revenue for the city. The city needs revenue, so hydro rates go up to cover the loss. That, we've already noticed. But as the repairman noted, the percentage of water and electricity saved is negligible compared to what would be saved if, like in the old days, people didn't wash every piece of clothing (outerwear) after only one wearing. I'm also a little more concerned about waste and landfill than I am about paying for a product or service (energy) that I use, and that is probably actually underpriced based on what it costs the world to produce it.
So, Andrea, what I found isn't like what you found. A dryer. Whaddya know. But there it is. My best find is learning that there's no stuff like old stuff.
at 9:06 PM