‘Old’ is the new ‘new’

Setting up house doesn’t have to break the bank


I live with a kitchen stocked with 12 forks, three methods for making
coffee and two corkscrews (priorities, right?), but no cheese grater,
vegetable peeler or functioning blender. Essentially, I’ve got no more
advanced cookware than a basic skillet.

I haven’t had a steady mailing address since last year, and during my
time in and out of apartments, on and off the continent, there’s been
some serious paring down of property. Ditto for my boyfriend. We’re
combining households now and discovering that we’ve got some strange
surpluses and some serious shortages. But my boyfriend has a growing
interest in all things culinary and has started to inquire after all
manners of specialized cooking tools: pastry tubes, a food processor, a
metate (an American Indian corn-grinding tool).

While I want him to cook the kind of elaborate feasts that
occasionally require specialized equipment, so that I can eat those
elaborate feasts, I’m hesitant to buy all of those products new. Buying
second-hand goods spares those resold items from being dumped in
landfills. Goodwill Industries estimates it saves two billion pounds of
clothing and furniture from landfills. Buying used can also cut down on
the consumption of virgin materials and petroleum use, and spare the
gasoline of shipping new goods from factories out of state or off of the

Fortunately, there’s a long list of thrift stores and online trading
groups for acquiring used goods in Boulder. Here are a few of your

Much of the Flatirons ReStore has your basic thrift store feel — a
little chaos in the stocking, a random and sometimes surprising
selection, and lots of fluorescent lighting. The feel-good of shopping
at the ReStore comes from knowing all sales benefit local Habitat for
Humanity housing projects. Flatirons Habitat for Humanity has built 159
homes locally and abroad since 1993 and has five homes under

Electronics at the store are labeled with a “Worked when tested”
sticker, so you know that $20 blender is likely to work when you get it
home. In addition to the basics of coffee pots, board games, clothing
and books for less than $1, the ReStore also stocks second-hand and
overstock home appliances, including refrigerators and dishwashers, and
furnishings like windows, doors, light fixtures and tile, all for
discounted prices. A used bathroom sink can run as little as $5, a
kitchen sink including faucets $55, or a double-wall oven with
microwave, $1,000.

The stock has some surprises, like a matched 12-piece dinner place
setting that sells for $2,000 and an antique piano, also on sale for

But, no metates.

For a request that specific, and a chance to participate in the used
market’s equivalent of online shopping, we could check out the local
chapter of ReUseIt Network, www.reuseitnetwork.org, or Boulder
Freecycle, groups.freecycle.org/BoulderFreecycle. Both groups allow
members to post ads for what they want and what they want to give away.
They place requirements on how often users post requests, but their main
rule is everything has to be given away for free.

Farther from the kitchen, the Boulder area has some more specialized
stores for reusable goods. Recycled Audio, in Longmont, sells used
stereo equipment. They keep a detailed inventory online, but you’ll need
to know what you’re looking for by name, since that’s how the inventory
is listed. They provide a 90-day parts and labor warranty with
everything they sell and a one-year trade-up policy. The Boulder Sports
Recycler stocks season-appropriate gear and parts sold on a consignment
basis. They list a sample inventory online, but to know what’s really
there, you’ve got to go into the store, browse, and tap into the
knowledge of the gearhounds who’ve been doing this for decades.