The second hand market in Canada is flourishing with the buying, selling and swapping of a wide range of interesting products. It has given rise to some near maniacal television shows like a modern day gold rush with lots of buzz and excitement. Thanks to the Internet – no one has to go panning for the valuables in creeks, cross uncharted mountain ranges, or even risk their lives. According to Kijiji alone, Canadians bought sold or swapped used products to the tune of 1.9 billion dollars in 2016. It’s interesting to note that British Columbians buy four times the national average in second hand goods.
Thrift stores are magnets for serious collectors. It has only been since the nineties that thrift store shopping has been trending upward. The stigmatization of buying second hand began to vanish and soon after became trendy. The idea of collecting a product line in the second hand market makes so much sense. Everything from old Levis, to antique glass and porcelain, limited edition and original art, concert band T-shirts, motorcycle memorabilia, and my favourite – vintage clothing and textiles, has gone up exponentially. The value of certain things has increased as online selling has become easier to get into. Along the same lines as the theory of like aggregates, like items are more easily accessed and compared by interested consumers. The more unique, artistic, rare, made by famous designers, in demand or outlandishly quirky – the more likely it will increase in value.
I find it very intriguing when I come across other collectors and gradually begin to notice what they collect. In one case, it was a tennis player who knew the pricing and quality of tennis rackets. He would select certain brands for five bucks or so, have them restrung and then resell them for several hundred dollars each. Another man was buying 35mm camera lenses and combining components of them to rebuild lenses with uniquely exaggerated fish eye or bokeh capabilities.
For several years there was a man with a thick Russian accent looking for and buying cashmere. He accumulated an entire roomful of sweaters. Apparently no one was sure what he intended to do with them. After he died, I learned through the rumor mill that he had planned to send them back to where he was born in Russia. He had grown up impoverished and it was “always so cold”. It’s really too bad the cashmere didn’t get packed up and sent to his hometown.
The second hand market is filled with eclectic hobbyists and hidden professionals. Most of us have no clue what motivates another person to collect what they collect. The more knowledge the person has about the specific items, the more he/she will spot authentic items with value. Glass is a good example. It ranges from hand painted moriage in Japanese porcelain to the incredible spectrum of murano glass from Italy.
The differentiation between hoarders and collectors is easy to make. Hoarders have a diminished capacity to make selections. Therefore they do not collect based on knowledge and a larger vision, but rather on fear of throwing things away because they might need or want them some day. Hoarders tend to be disorganized and non-sensical in what they stockpile and do not like to get rid of things.
Collectors on the other hand are always culling and getting rid of mistakes because that’s how we learn. It is also how a collection is refined and built to higher standards. In addition for collectors, the collection becomes increasingly organized. Whereas with hoarders it is the exact opposite and everything piles up uncontrollably. The collector is motivated to a large degree by curiosity and learning. The collection itself has a systems component.
In my opinion there is no other place but the second hand market to find high quality items and products for resale, at a fraction of the cost. You could not buy the buttons for a designer jacket for what it costs to buy one in a second hand store. And then you would still have to sit and sew them all onto the jacket.
Canada’s high standard and good reputation in the online second hand market can be credited to Montreal and Toronto. Montreal mid-century designers are now being recognized in the upscale International vintage clothing markets. Canada has turned out some world-renowned luxury brand names such as Claire Haddad, Wayne Clark, Bill Tice, Gustave Sherman, Patricia Fieldwalker, Val Hughes and Madame Runge as some examples. Next to Italy, France, and the US – we can hold our own quite well in comparison to most other countries.
There are countless good reasons to promote the Canadian second hand market. We are an affluent country with much history and culture – due to the diversity and widespread travel. We have a great selection and clean well organized second hand stores. I skim through roughly 30,000 new items per week. Of that I might select six to ten items on average.
With everything from obscure coins, antique glass and art – to old typewriters and some very unique hand made musical instruments with wooden tuners, we have enough abundance in our second hand stores to contribute to eCommerce, education, niche markets, hobbyists and recycling. The identification of unique product lines and global trends – is continually increasing the scope and opportunities within the second hand markets. It also creates an eclectic exhibit of our diverse Canadian heritage.