Shopping ‘Used’? Remember What You Went For!

Shopping ‘Used’? Remember What You Went For!

Do you ever shop the used sites online? I love to scour our local ads, and not too long ago I came across this one for a sweet vintage typewriter table.

Used Cowichan

I’ve been looking for a small writing table as an alternate work station in our home. But not just any table. So when I saw this little beauty, I was smitten. What’s not to love, right? Vintage 1950s or 60s, a nod to the changing role women played in the 20th century… You know – all those things that make my heart skip a beat! πŸ˜‰

I made the call to set up a viewing, and when I headed off this was my ‘must meet’ criteria:

  1. The scale needed to fit my intended purpose, and placement;
  2. Its finish, preferably original;
  3. The price, hopefully negotiable.
As soon as I saw the table, right away I could see it was too low. Like, almost as low as my heart sank πŸ™ Β Once up close and personal, I could see the green finish was not the factory finish. The photo shows that when you look at the shelf underneath, but I like to see these variances for myself. And the price. Well, I never got to the negotiating stage to find out if there was any flex in the price.
Here’s another look.

Β Used Cowichan

I really fell for this little guy. And I found myself trying to talk myself into buying it just because it melted my heart. Β I mean, I could slide it into place as an end table, a phone table, or a bedside table. I could use it for another folding surface in my laundry area, I could sew on it… heck, I could even wheel it around and multi-purpose it!

But… none of these uses was what I went for. And even though I loved the green in spite of it not being the factory finish, I had to let this one go.

My tips if you’re shopping ‘used’…

  1. Know what you want;
  2. Know why you want it;
  3. Know what you’re willing to pay;
  4. Know when you need to walk away (need, not want)!

And if you’re looking for vintage, do your homework.

  1. Find out a little bit about the piece before you go.
  2. Try to find out roughly what circa it is;
  3. Have an idea of the average asking price for pieces like it so you know how much wriggle room you have;
  4. Pay attention to the details.

This little guy is in great shape, and has definitely been refinished. The colour is not the factory finish, and the drawer pull is not the original hardware. This piece has been nicely refinished, and you also see the efforts of that work reflected in the asking price. You need to know if that’s part of what you want to pay for.

In my case, I had to walk away because as much as I loved this little guy, little was the problem. It was a little too low to serve the purpose I needed it to.

Urban Remains Chicago

Have you done any ‘used’ shopping lately? What’s on your checklist when you set out for a potential purchase? Got any great stories to share?

Thanks for stopping by!

21 thoughts on “Shopping ‘Used’? Remember What You Went For!”

  • Great advice Sheila! I bought a “too low” bar cart before Christmas. I think I felt bad saying “no thanks” so I bought it anyway. duh. Still haven’t figured out exactly what to do with it, re-sell it, or re-imagine it into something else. Either way, I wish I was mentally prepared to say NO to myself even after I built it up in my mind to be the perfect thing as I drove over there…and it wasn’t.

  • Very good tips Sheila – I know sometimes it is so easy to get “caught up in the moment” and buy it, then after wonder yikes what did I do? You will find the right one, and when you do – that find will be sweet πŸ™‚ Have a great week!

  • Ohhh…i was so excited for you when i saw the picture – actually i was green with envy as I too have been looking for the perfect table for my kitchen office,…..and then my heart sank too as you discovered it did not match your requirements. Too bad – keep hunting,
    Thanks for your tips as well. I admire your fortitude in sticking to your list.

    • Awe, it was a little bit of a heart-breaker, but I’m pretty sure the right one will come along… at least I’m sure hoping! I also hope this little table finds its way into a really great home – it’s such a great piece. I hope you find something just right for your kitchen office, too! πŸ™‚

  • Great advice! Many of us love to shop vintage, used, garage sale specials… but if it isn;t the right piece, even the most bargain price isn’t worth it if you come home with something you can’t really use. xoxo! Cris

    • I’m hopeful the right table is going to come along. In the meantime, I’ve gone and bought myself a little DIY project instead… I picked up a small end table that I’m going to spruce up for Kaleigh while I keep my eyes open for ‘the one’ for me!

  • Ooh…I feel for you. I fell for this guy as soon as the page loaded. I would have had a really hard time walking away too. Glad you were able to stay focussed and keep in mind what you needed and wanted out of a typewriter table!

    Great tips, Sheila!!!

  • Good for you for not settling. It’s hard when you’re there not to get caught up in the moment. I was reading some tips for buying Craigslist items on Emily Henderson’s blog and she said it’s extremely rude not to negotiate the price before you arrive. That was a surprise to me as I always wait until I”m there. Glad I’m not the only one doing that.

    • Thanks for that tip! I generally ask ahead if the price is firm, but this time I only confirmed what she was asking, not if there was room to move! Guess I was lucky we never go to that point, huh? But even so, hmmmm, I’m not sure I’m fully convinced it’s all bad to negotiate face-to-face. I think the real knack is in making a fair counter-offer that isn’t insulting. This has me really pondering now… Thanks again for the heads-up! πŸ™‚

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