Although there has always been a second-hand furniture marketwhether it was in Barcelona’s Encantes, in Madrid’s Rastro or in other weekly markets, with the arrival of the Internet, the sale of used products skyrocketed and has remained on the rise.
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Largely, this boom is initially due to eBay, but later the birth of local platforms such as Wallapop and others has led to the transfer of business to web pages and mobile phones, with the advantage of having access to a much greater range of products, and an exchange from user to user with intermediaries.
This fact has accelerated the rate of buying and selling used furniture compared to ten or twenty years ago but, as Aina Maimó, a furniture restorer from Barcelona who works from her home-workshop warns, “most exchanges are made without any guarantee”.
“An individual gets rid of a piece of furniture and another finds it interesting and buys it, but he really does not know what he is buying, because who sells is not an expert that they know the product”, continues the restaurateur, who assures that this online exchange does not take away business from her guild.
“On the contrary, we get more furniture from people who have bought bargains that they thought were fine, but it turns out that they are in poor condition and they want to repair them, and of course, it is not cheap,” adds Maimó.
Advantages of second-hand furniture bought online
Even so, the restorer values this type of object and lists its advantages. “First of all, you buy a piece of furniture or decorative piece that you otherwise would not have had the opportunity to acquire because it is no longer manufactured, that is an aesthetic value“, He says.
The expert continues: “Secondly, you acquire it at an advantageous priceand if the furniture is not an antique piece, it may be in very good condition, for example it happens with Ikea furniture, which quickly loses its price, and to a lesser extent with other more expensive brands”.
If it is an antique piece that interests us a lot, Maimó advises inspect the part well before buying to ensure at least that its appearance gives confidence, and if possible, be accompanied by a restorer.
Disadvantages of second-hand furniture bought online
As Maimó points out, the main disadvantage is “the lack of guarantees”, since although we pay a low price for a piece of furniture, we are not experts and cannot appraise it properly, so “it is always a bit of a lottery”.
The restorer always recommends bid at the lowest possible price “Because it is very likely that if we are really interested in the piece, we will end up taking it to restore”, and explains that restorers “are very active buyers in Wallapop because we see many interesting pieces but they are in poor condition”.
In general, according to Maimó, most of the pieces that move in this market “need updating, sometimes it is little but in others there is a lot of restoration work”.
On the other hand, there is the risk of encountering unwanted companions of the furniture, that is woodwormwhich are xylophagous beetles that inhabit old wood and eat it.
When we talk about woodworm, we refer to the “small woodworm” (Anobium punctatum) that is more typical of old furniture or that has not been properly treated to prevent its entry. In fact, it is also known as “the furniture beetle”.
Although in reality the beetle is the outer phase of the life cycle, while the larva, the true xylophagous, lives in conduits that it digs in the wood while feeding on it. The cycle begins when the beetle lays its eggs on the surface and the larva comes out of them and begins to dig.
“The older the piece of furniture, the greater the risk of having woodworm, and the problem is not only that the piece in question destroys us, but that the adult beetles travel to other pieces of wood that we have at home and colonize them”, explains the artisan.
In this regard, he recommends reviewing the piece well and asking about possible treatments in the past when setting the price. We need to see if there is holes in the wood or semi-shallow groovesas well as monitor the presence of beetles.
also try if the wood sounds hollow or if there are traces of sawdust or dust on surfaces. In case of detecting this condition, this does not have to prevent us from buying the furniture, but we must be aware that it should be treated, although it is not excessively expensive.
How to value the price of second-hand furniture
In the case of sofas or armchairs we must look not only at the exterior appearance, but also remove the kitchens and look at the interior seams, as well as the cushioning. We must sit with and without cushions to notice its state. Also look at the bottom, even if it is knocking down the furniture.
Of course, we will also look at the stitching and finishing of all the upholstery and if it is leather, we will assess the cracks, since in this case it is very likely that reupholstering will be required. Based on all this we will set the price.
If we cannot physically go to the review and/or collection, we will demand photos of all of it online, or we will ask exhaustively through the chat channel and we will even ask that the condition of the furniture be certified.
In the case of chairsIn addition to the upholstery, we will assess its stability by sitting down and moving a little, so that we force them. We will also look at the state of the legs, especially at the tip, since it is where the wear is reflected.
In cabinets and shelves we will monitor the traces of woodworm, as well as the solidity of the frame. We will also investigate the bottom and interior surfaces in search of wear, scratches, the aforementioned woodworm dust, etc.
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