Vintage furniture makes cents if you're on a budget. Here's where to shop for it
The lure of 'fast furniture' can never beat the joy of finding unique, pre-owned pieces that offer great value for money
If you're one for trawling second-hand stores, you'll be familiar with the rush that comes with spotting a one-of-a-kind piece that's perfect for your space. Sure, it's easier to go to a big chain store where you're guaranteed to find a wide variety of whatever it is you're looking for, but in our throwaway, consumer-driven culture, it's becoming uncool to buy mass-produced furniture.
"We live in times where recycling is the norm. Plastic is out and zero waste is the new black, so it's only natural that this is filtering into the furniture market," says Larushka Marr, owner of Joburg-based mid-century modern and retro furniture store Retrend.
"Vintage furniture is not only an eco-friendly choice, but if it is well-crafted with a timeless design, it will seldom have an expiry date. It has already stood the test of time and will last you for decades longer if you look after it well."
Another key player on the scene is Anikesh Ramani, owner of mid-century furniture store MØDERNIST. He agrees with Marr's sentiments.
"With so much emphasis on profit margins, most large-scale manufacturers are looking for ways to cut costs. Most of the vintage pieces out there were made in smaller batches with hand-crafted elements at the core of their production, making them of higher quality than a lot of what is available today," he says.
Of course there is incredible furniture being produced today, but factors such as the rising cost of raw materials mean it's increasingly expensive to produce quality pieces. "Buying new pieces manufactured in woods such as teak, rosewood or mahogany costs a fortune," says Marr, "which is why buying used one-of-a-kind pieces makes sense."
For Ramani, the originality factor is a pull when it comes to buying vintage. "Like with classic cars and other collectibles, the vintage furniture pieces you're able to find will always have a special and unique aspect, regardless of your budget, as there were only a certain number made and even fewer of which survived."
Another, perhaps more subtle, advantage of buying second-hand pieces is that it frees you of "guilty attachment". Anyone who has tried to sell their mass-produced furniture will know it's near impossible to retrieve even a fraction of the price you paid for it, meaning that you often end up hanging onto things you don't really like or use, simply because you can't sell them.
When you buy second-hand, you're more likely to pay a fair price. Also, you'll get back what you paid when you're ready to move on.
"Vintage pieces will more often than not keep their value, which is not something you can say for most contemporary manufactured products," says Ramani.
Finally, buying second-hand helps you step off the consumer treadmill as there are no trend-driven marketing tactics pushing you.
Or as Marr neatly puts it: "It gives you the opportunity to create a look and not 'shop' the look."
VINTAGE SPOTS WE LOVE
1. MØDERNIST: 8A 4th Ave, Parkhurst, Johannesburg
2. RETREND: Shop 1, Randsteam Shopping Centre, Richmond, Johannesburg
3. VAMP: 368c Albert Road, Woodstock, Cape Town
4. MINT: Online store, but they do have residence in Linksfield, Johannesburg
5. FACEBOOK MARKETPLACE: Online community platform.
6. DECADE: Shop 4, Mellpark Heights, 23 9th St, Mellville, Johannesburg