Have you ever pictured yourself leaving it all behind and starting fresh? Well, I didn’t. But then I had to. You see, after 23 years, my marriage was over. Not only that, but I was about to become an empty nester. It was time to downsize, yes, but it was also an opportunity to yell OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH THE NEW from the rooftops. Literally.

Bye bye marital home and old worn family furniture! Hello, perfect little house with a groovy, eclectic Mara vibe!

Exciting, right? Oh yeah. Except for that one glitch called money. Once I bought the house and drew up the plans for a brand new kitchen, there wasn’t a lot left over for new furniture. So I did what 82% of Canadians are now doing. I joined the second-hand economy. Did you know that Canadians managed to exchange an average of 78 second-hand items each in 2016, according to a recent study by Kijiji? And that this exchange of new-to-you goods totalled $29 billion? I did not, but I do now. And since I opened my Kijiji account and started buying and selling all kinds of wonderful stuff, I’ve become part of this brave new world.

And did I ever score. To put it in dollars and sense, I’ve made about $1000 selling stuff on Kijiji which I was then able to put towards furnishing most of my main living space. 

How did it start? How did this woman you’d least expect to fill her house with other people’s stuff (that she has to pay for, that is; I’m not averse to hand-me-downs) end up on Kijiji? As I said, it was partly financial. But it was also that while I was pretty much starting fresh (I brought only beds and really meaningful pieces from my father with me), I didn’t want my place to look like a show home. I wanted things with character, things that looked as if I’d collected them over years. So in order to clear out the old and bring in the new, I sold a bunch of things on Kijjiji, which in turn funded my new purchases.

How I Used My Fresh Start to Fall in Love with The Second-Hand Economy on Kijiji

Kitchen Table
New: $600+
My Price: $250

And that’s what happened. But you know what else happened? I collected some people‘s stories as well.

There was the man who bought my kitchen table whose house had been burgled and their own family table destroyed. He took mine that carries so many rich memories away to build new ones with his family around it. 

There was the woman who bought our old weight bench because she too had split up with her husband and wanted to get her life and body back in shape. I threw in all my weights as a gift because how could I not?

There was the woman who sold me her kitchen table who became my friend. Did we ever hit it off when I went to buy it. Now we’re friends on Facebook, Instagram, and even in real life.

And there was the woman who had a vintage 1950s record player/radio console handed down from her grandfather just sitting in the garage. That piece turned out to be a totally frivolous purchase—I needed storage for the dining room—but somehow it has become necessary to my style happiness.

How I Used My Fresh Start to Fall in Love with The Second-Hand Economy on Kijiji

Vintage Radio/Record Player Console
New: priceless
My price: $260

Want to join the second-hand economy? Here’s some of my unsolicited advice.

5 Smart Ways to Use Kijiji to Dive into the Second-Hand Economy 

Make it Look Good. Post good photos and a detailed description, including dimensions of the item. Ensure you’re using the right category and post to multiple categories. Check out how others are listing their like items too, and whether they’ve taken the time to take great shots so you can see what you’re buying. You can also have fun with the description (I just sold a microwave with the headline ‘The Rolls Royce of Microwaves’) and include language like MOVING SALE, MUST SELL, or GREAT PRICE. Things I like to know when I’m buying are where it’s from, how long they’ve had it, what model or type it is, what kind of home it comes from, even why they’re selling. I know that those details inform my own purchasing decisions so I put them in my own listings. The easier I make it for buyers, the smoother the transaction goes, and when I’m the buyer, I look for the same kind of ease

Price it Right. If selling, decide what you will take for the item and then go up, up, up. Have a look at how similar items are priced and use that as a guideline. People love to bargain, so make sure to leave some wiggle room. Or make sure to note that the price is firm. I bought a coffee table for $110 on a firm price that was totally fair. You can also open up a haggle war with the addition of OBO (or best offer).

How I Used My Fresh Start to Fall in Love with The Second-Hand Economy on Kijiji

Mid-Century Style Coffee Table
New: $800
My Price: $110 Original Mid-Century Lamps New: Priceless My Price: $140

Be On Top of It. Using the Kijiji app let me respond to inquiries and responses on the fly. Especially with high demand items like my mint condition radio console, time can be of the essence. Also, buyers can be fast and flighty so responding quickly means you can reel them in and seal the deal.

Manage Your Expectations. Using Kijiji is a bit like online dating. Some people may express interest in your pics and then ghost you by not showing up, dropping off, working multiple listings, or all of the above. Remember: The thing ain’t sold until it’s sold. So don’t tell buyers you’re off the market until the deal is done. Same with when you’re buying, so show up with the cash and make a firm appointment to view and pick up.

How I Used My Fresh Start to Fall in Love with The Second-Hand Economy on Kijiji

Crystal Chandelier
New: $550
My Price: $180

Be Safe. Use your common sense about where to meet when buying and selling from other Kiijiji users. In general, I was able to get a feel for how I wanted to exchange goods. If you’re not sure, make meetings in public places, or bring a friend with you. If you’re comfortable giving out your address, have the goods at the front door and ask the buyer text you when they arrive so you can bring it out..

If you’ve never bought or sold anything on Kijiji, I hope I’ve inspired you to get started. Not only is it great on the wallet, but it’s actually a lot of fun. Fair warning though. The second-hand economy is addictive. I should know.

Note: After joining the Second-Hand Economy we were asked to share our experiences with you. We were compensated for the writing of this post, however all opinions and purchases are our own. 

About the author

Mara Shapiro

Mara Shapiro is Co-Editor, Community of BrazenWoman. She is proof that it's never too late to reinvent yourself, and also that you cannot have too many pairs of shoes and lipglosses. A Social Media addict, Community Manager, and insatiable lover of movie popcorn, Mara is always on the hunt for the next best thing. You'll often find her laughing and dancing, phone in one hand, and a glass of red in the other. The only time she's not talking is when she's sleeping.

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