The Second Hand Economy

Growing up, my mum was always a fan of a good second hand ‘bargain find’ but I remember the day my own second hand journey began. It was about thirteen years ago, I was fresh out of high school and just about to start studying physiotherapy at university. Being opposed to any sort of clutter, I needed somewhere to store all my books that looked neat and organised. Kyal and I took to the second hand furniture stores to find a bookshelf of sorts. I found a big old timber chest with doors that had shelves on the inside. We then spent the next few evenings sanding and coating it in a timber varnish. For the next ten years, this piece was carted from house to house and was always the perfect place to store all my study notes, books, folders, pens and basic office junk!

What really got us thinking about ways to capitalise on this market was when, for my 18th birthday, Kyal made me an oversized timber mirror. He used a second hand mirror from an old wardrobe and framed it in gorgeous aged timber weatherboards that he’d pulled off a job (he was an apprentice carpenter at the time). As he carried this huge mirror into my house, the neighbours couldn’t help but comment on how beautiful the piece was and if he took orders! Making one-off pieces was something we both enjoyed doing.

Although we didn’t end up selling mirrors, for the next few years any friends who got engaged or married most likely received a handmade timber mirror from Kyal and I!

This love of creating something new from something old was, without a doubt, what spurred us on to save for our first home. If you’ve followed our journey you’ll know that the renovation of our first home was where we found our passion. Along the way, we’ve relied heavily on the second hand economy to save money where we could. But it’s not all about the dollars! When renovating our first few bathrooms, we used old consoles and dressing tables as vanities, placing basins on top. Our hallway linen cupboards were made into a feature by using recycled timber front doors. These pieces were great talking points when we had guests over.


A gorgeous one-off second hand piece we purchased a few years ago. We’ve had it reupholstered and it now sits proudly in our latest renovation at Long Jetty.


Fast forward to today, and the second hand economy is now worth a whopping $43.5 billion! We still rely heavily on the second hand economy for our renovations. For us, we use  Gumtree, and the easy to use app means we don’t have to spend a full day out going from shop to shop searching for treasures. It’s something we can do at home while we’re sitting on the sofa relaxing. That’s not to say we always agree on our Gumtree finds! When we finished renovating our house at Toowoon Bay I was just about to have our first baby. I had the downstairs rumpus in mind as a great place to set up a play room. Kyal, on the other hand, had other ideas! Unbeknown to be, he’d splurged on a second hand pool table!


Kyal’s sneaky purchase!


And this brings me to the next point: Gumtree is a great place to list items you have lying around the house! The average Australian has approximately $5,404 worth of unwanted goods around the home. We’ve relied on this over the years when we have excess building materials such as tiles to sell. The age old saying – one man’s trash is another man’s treasure – certainly rings true to us. And at the risk of Kyal actually reading this, I’d say that pool table may end up on Gumtree very soon!

For read more about Gumtree’s 2017 Second Hand Economy Report, check it out here.