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Brattleboro Second Hand

One of the things I liked about Brattleboro when we moved here was the abundance of second hand, vintage, antique, and bona fide junk shops.  You can buy used records, used books, used DVDs, used furniture, used clothing, previously-owned jewelry, and every kind of vintage toy, decoration, and domestic item imaginable right downtown.  Brattleboro has yard sales every weekend.   Many non-profits host charity rummage sales – we go to the one at St.  Michael's all the time. In short, this propensity to recycle consumer goods makes Brattleboro a bargain hunter's heaven.  But on the other hand, what a drag it must be for retailers of new merchandise.

This dedication to the after market isn't just a sometimes thing.  People flock to bargain spots, lining up at the door to get in to book and rummage sales, and filling the aisles (such as they are) at Experienced Goods.  In fact, Experienced Goods (run by the Hospice) has become the de facto department store for a slice of Brattleboro residents, who come for clothes, furniture, kitchenware, books, gifts, and  whatever else they may find.

There are reasons why people take advantage of the cheap thrill.  The most obvious is lack of funds.  If you're broke or merely squeezed, you may relish a bargain.  If you can buy the very thing you covet without having to part with more than a few bucks, you're probably going to go for it.  Books for a dollar; the side table to keep them on for three dollars more.  You can't beat it with a stick.

Another reason to buy second hand is the cachet of vintage goods.  Modern mass-produced products from Walmart have all the soul of a corporate office park.  On the other hand, items that were owned and maybe even loved by actual people in the past have that lived-in feel that appeals, to me at least.  They have history, beauty, and if you're lucky, better quality than the same things made today.  The fact that they are also cheap is icing on the cake.

Finally, there's the earth-friendly aspect of second hand provisioning.  People here seem to take seriously the third R in the recycling mantra – we re-use.  Whether it's FreeCycle or free piles or the swap room at the dump, local residents take advantage of opportunities to obtain and dispose of all kinds of goods.  Instead of filling the proverbial landfill with useful items, we pass those items on to others who need or want them.

Recently I went to the Green Street School tag sale where I bought an old kids picture dictionary to inspire me to work on my French vocabulary.  When I got it home, I happened to glance at the flyleaf where I saw, to my surprise, the name of my mother's old friend from Baltimore, a French teacher of many years.  Later that night, we worked out that the book had gone from my mother's friend to my mother, from my mother to Experienced Goods (telltale sticker on back cover), and from there to a third party who donated it to the Green Street School where I bought it for a dime.  Thinking about the irony of this one little book's amazing circulatory powers, I was reminded of the three arrows in the recycling logo.  Around and around our belongings go, from one to another and sometimes back again.

While it's true that we may not be buying as many new consumer goods as we could, I like to think that our reliance on both previously-owned and new products gives us a more balanced economy.  It allows us to stretch our budgets a little further, improves our quality of life, and frees up cash for other things.  Meanwhile, being the second hand emporium of the county isn't such a bad thing for Brattleboro – it brings in customers for all our stuff, old and new.   


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Right on, Lise!

Great post!


Love this post!

The first Winter I was in Brattleboro, my few dollars of spending money went to Brattleboro Books and Experienced Goods. Thrift stores help make things affordable for everyone and keep the planet a bit better off as well.


Buying and selling

It really does go both ways, too.

I've found great deals (a camera lens at a Vermont Center for Photography sale, for example) from sources of used goods, but I also feel better knowing that I don't have to throw away perfectly good things I don't need anymore.

Sometimes an item gets upgraded, but the older model is A-OK. We've passed on good computers many times. I've received gifts that enable me to shed older kitchen equipment, too.

I really like that we have the side of the road piles for odd objects, and the understanding that we put things out by the curb to take - and people take them. I've found great furniture by the side of the road.


more ...

Since we arrived in Brattleboro we have purchased nearly everything we own, clothes, furniture, artwork, rugs, and on and on, used. We are avid recyclers of everything in our house. And not only do we enjoy purchasing everything used (whenever possible) we enjoy passing on great deals for quality items that will last a lifetime.

This Saturday (weather permitting) will be our fourth - and last - moving sale. We have sold kitchenware, art work, furniture, antiques, tools, appliances, etc. for next to nothing.

This last sale we are also brining furniture and boxes and boxes of stored housewares from Boston, as well as selling off more of our house contents here. What does not sell at this sale will go to auction and prices will likely be higher. So if you need furniture, antiques, books, lamps, artwork, all sorts of kitchen ware, etc. come by for some great deals on quality furniture, rugs, and a large variety of household deals. 9 a.m. 64 Western Avenue. Have we got a deal for you!!


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