Buying used or ‘previously-loved’ items comes naturally to us and appeals for the reasons I expects it does for many folks: it saves money, it extends the life of useful and/or beautiful items, and it’s less resource intensive. It just plain makes sense to me. This weekend seemed to be littered with great secondhand finds for us: the first was a planned purchase, the second an item from our wishlist that finally turned up, and the third a very special unexpected find.
Going into this weekend I knew that my youngest son needed new soccer cleats for Monday. Our local thrift shop, which operates for the benefit of local charities, is a great resource for both ice skates and soccer cleats. Used ice skates are usually three dollars a pair, regardless of condition; the same goes for cleats. It’s a great deal for parents, creating a place to send outgrown pairs and to acquire new ones for the season. Saturday happened to be the store’s 38th anniversary and on its birthday every item in the store is always reduced to the same value in cents just for the day; so the previously loved cleats above rang in at 38 cents! I upped that a bit as all proceeds to go to charity.
We had cycled into town that morning to first pick up the cleats and then visit our weekend farmers’ market, after which we had a late breakfast at the coffee shop. (Our friends at the farmers’ market have some hens for us, which is a whole other string of posts.) Next stop was our local bike shop, a wonderful place run by a local fellow in retirement; it’s clearly a labour of love and not necessarily a big money maker (though it could be, as this is one bike-loving town). We chatted a bit, bought a rearview mirror for my bike (much needed), and discussed how we might help with the repainting of a garage space recently acquired for all of the used bikes that the shop owner collects for shipment to Haiti. Having a peak at some of the other used stock on hand, my husband spied the old Norco bike trailer, pictured above. It was exactly what we’ve been needing to haul things around on our land, either pulled by mountain bike or hand-wheeled (as it has great balance and is as easy to push as it is to pull). Anything sold from second-hand stock (which is generally donated to the store anyway), the owner designates for the Haiti Bike fund, so we agreed that forty dollars seemed reasonable for the trailer and gladly added that to the pot.
The trailer has clearly had more than one life, evidenced by the makeshift half-cover, which is exactly as we will plan to use it.
The last find didn’t cost a penny, but was really special. We seem to find wonderful cast-offs when we’re on our bikes; we even found our television this way (who throws out a perfectly useable tube tv?). Our last errand on Saturday morning was to nip over to the supermarket for a few things. Our older son was in the lead by about a block, and as we caught up to him he was holding a model ship in his hands (the photo here shows our younger son holding the boat in the grass at home).
This boy has a passion for model-making and loves boats; he looked so excited by it. He explained that it was just sitting on the front lawn by the fire hydrant, which certainly made it sound like it was being offered, but just to be sure we suggested he knock on the front door of the house. The door was quickly answered by an elderly man who said he was absolutely welcome to it, and that was that, or so we thought. Moments later, the man’s wife came padding down the front walk and over to us on our bikes. She explained that the boat, a model of the old river barges used on the River Thames in London, had been her son’s and that he had died. ‘It’s taken me thirteen years to work up to giving that boat away’ she said – she’d left the boat on the front lawn hoping someone who wanted it would come along.
It felt pretty good being able to tell her that our son was born in London and that we’d just returned from a visit to England and had enjoyed looking at the boats on the Thames when we took a clipper upriver one day. It felt even better to be able to reassure her that fixing up the boat (which needs some repairs and TLC) would be a high priority for our son. It also seemed oddly fitting that our son recently turned 14 and that seems to correspond with the timeframe in which this lady lost her son. It was a brief, but bittersweet conversation, and we’ve since agreed that our son will write a note to her with some details about himself, where our family lives, and how he’ll fix up the boat, and put it in her mailbox. Sometimes second-hand finds have so much more to them than we can even imagine.