Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Thoughts on Second-Hand Stuff

Last week I wrote about our decision to NOT replace a part on our kitchen stove.  In the comments the conversation turned to repairing instead of replacing, replacing with second-hand parts, and hanging on to what you already own.  That's where I want to pick up the conversation again today.

In the last two weeks, a couple of second-hand items have come into our home.  One was by design and the other was by chance.

After seeing our friends' Jack LaLanne Power Juicer like the one above over the holidays, learning how well it worked and how easy it was to clean, we decided we wanted one of our own.  Shortly after, Aldi stores had a similar Crofton juicer on sale for $35 plus tax -- much cheaper than a brand new LaLanne juicer.  As far as I could tell, it worked the same way.  I've bought the Crofton brand before and have always had good luck with it, so I went ahead and picked up one of the two juicers left in our local store.

But on the way home, I wasn't completely happy about my purchase.  I decided I'd look on craigslist for a used Jack LaLanne juicer.  I found several listed and three within my price range.  It took all day, but one of the people I contacted finally responded and we worked out a time for me to see the juicer the next day.  I ended up buying it for $40.

Now why would I pay more for a used item than a new one?  First of all, after sales tax, the new one was about $38, so I only spent a couple dollars more for the used one.  Second, I already knew how the used juicer worked and I knew I would like it.  Third, by buying the pre-owned juicer, I didn't create an artificial demand for more juicers to be produced.  Fourth, I may have kept it out of the landfill; if the previous owner didn't sell it, he might have just thrown it away.  And fifth, it came with no packaging for me to have to recycle or throw away.

I was much more comfortable with this purchase and took the brand new juicer back to Aldi the next time I went there for groceries.

The second item we got used was a 42" flat screen TV.  Shane's boss' neighbor was going to throw it away and asked said boss if he'd take it and put it in a job site dumpster (not sure of the ethics of that, but that's for a different post).  Boss called Shane and told him it was available, that it supposedly worked but had some color problems, and asked if we wanted it.  Shane told him sure, we'd take it.

As it turned out, it did work, but it had some screen issues.  It wouldn't work on wide-screen view, but worked ok on full-screen view.  It didn't seem to have any color issues, but it didn't have as good a picture as our current TV.  We ended up listing it on craiglist as a free item, explained it's problem, and had lots of calls from people wanting to give it a new home.  The first person who called us decided to take it.  Everybody involved was happy and the television never saw the inside of a dumpster.  At least not on our watch.

By the way, our current TV was also given to us by Shane's boss.  The boss said the color was dull and upgraded to a flat-screen a few years ago.  We were happy to get it because our old TV was really too small for our living room. The one he gave us is a rear-projection big screen model and all Shane had to do was open the cabinet and dust off the projection bulbs.  That made a big improvement, but after fiddling with the freebie flat screen last week, Shane decided it was time to clean the projection bulbs in our TV again.  Only this time, he also cleaned the mirror that reflects the projection bulbs.

The picture is unbelievable now.  I suppose it doesn't take much to impress us, but we all three sat for the longest time and marveled at the difference a good cleaning made.  I expect this TV will have to flat-out quit working before we consider replacing it.  Unless, of course, the boss decides to upgrade and give us his "old" one again. ;)

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that not all used acquisitions, whether purchases or freebies, are going to work out.  On the other hand, there are lots of reasons that justify giving a new home to second-hand stuff.

What kind of used items have you adopted lately?
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...