Psst. I have a secret.
Even though I work for a furniture company, and am finally at the stage in my life where I'm no longer juggling two part-time jobs and not just barely missing the threshold for the low-income tax break (seriously, Massachusetts?!), I still love getting stuff second-hand.
Goodwill. Boomerang's. Buffalo Exchange. Random thrift stores and consignment shops. My eye is always drawn to them when I'm in the car, wishing I had the time to stop and poke around. But my free time is extremely limited, and typically doesn't show up until around 9 p.m. on a weeknight, which is why my favorite will forever and always be the great and powerful (and always open) Craigslist.
Is there anything better than the thrill of the virtual chase? Scrolling though page after page of crappy snapshots until the perfect piece jumps out at you. Frantically emailing the seller and either trying to bend over backwards to fit their schedule or playing it coy, negotiating for a better deal. Sweet-talking your friends into helping you load and unload endless random things from your perfectly sized car.
(For years, my dad drove a Mercedes station wagon, the ultimate luxury brand and the ultimate dorkmobile model. He claimed he needed the wagon so he could "haul stuff." Sadly, I understand this desire a little too well.)
Maybe one day I'll prefer the convenience of ordering brand new stuff. But for now, I'm still cheapskate Lisa, who loves a good deal and good story above all else.
Like the time I scored vintage post office bins for $4 a piece at a random garage sale on the way to the Brimfield Flea (did I buy anything at Brimfield? 'Course not. That place is pricey!). Or the time I picked up my dining table from a trailer park after dark in Nowheresville, PA. Or my trusty green dresser, which went to me because I told the buyer how much I loved the color and how perfectly it would match my duvet cover.
...Or, more recently, the IKEA bookshelf that I thought would fit in my friend's car but most certainly did not, so I ended up crouched in between the shelves in the back seat, trying to hold the trunk closed with a combination of brute strength and strategically placed seat belts.
(Sorry, mom.) (More to come on that shelf soon, because I made some modifications and now have it all set up, and I'm pretty pleased with myself.)
Here's how it works: there's cheap, there's picky, and there's impatient. You can be impatient and cheap, but you gotta take whatever you can get. You can be cheap and picky, but you've gotta be willing to wait around for the right thing. Or you can be picky and impatient, but whatever you end up with sure as hell ain't gonna be cheap.
For now, I'm settling with being cheap and picky. And flexing my patience muscle, waiting for the right thing to come along.
Like, oh, say for instance, these babies: