Ultimate Guide to Fast Furniture and How to Avoid it

What is Fast Furniture? 

What is cheap, fashionable, and provides near-instant gratification? If you guessed “fast furniture” you would be correct. It comes to no surprise that when most Americans want to make a furniture purchase their first stop is Amazon.com or Ikea, with their on-trend designs and fast shipping. 

The rise of “fast furniture”—a term for home-goods produced quickly, cheaply, and often with a severe downgrade in the type of materials used and quality of the finished product— is a direct reaction to habits of excess and planned obsolescence. Combining low quality and low cost, “fast furniture” is much more difficult to repair, making it more likely to end up on the curb than the expensive, sturdy furniture of previous generations. This consumer trend comes at a time where a widening wealth gap between renters and homeowners (the median household wealth among homeowners is 3,965% higher than it is among renters) accounts for the growth in both the purchasing of cheap alternatives to buying quality, long lasting furniture pieces as the cost of moving makes it much more convenient to throw away and repurchase large items.

In Gainesville, FL with exceeding regularity, neighborhood streets are inundated with furniture on the side of the road, ready for trash pickup every May and December, due to the transient nature of a student population and the expected rental renewal rates that keep turnover high. This habit is hard felt in landfills; in 2018, 9.6 million tons of furniture waste were landfilled in the US alone.

Smarter Shopping

The first piece of this complex puzzle is the act of being a more conscious consumer. Sustainability expert Ashlee Piper, who wrote the book Give a Sh*t: Do Good. Live Better. Save the Planet., suggests that when buying new first look for red flags such as the price, where a product is made and who it is made by. Stay informed and knowledgeable about production standards for brands you are shopping from. You can do this by:

  • Visiting their website and reviewing their mission/values
  • Looking for standards and certifications
  • Putting on your detective hat and looking though reviews of the brand
  • Contacting the brand

If you find that the brand you wanted to purchase from is not making its products to your standards, next, check local retailers.

By shopping small and local you can increase your odds that the products are being made more transparently and thoughtfully. You can find wonderful craftspeople and beautifully curated collections by doing some research about the shops around you.

The final option is to buy used or snag things others have discarded at the curb. Often, people have a mindset that if something is broken or not “on-trend” that its value is lost, but by embracing a “repair don’t replace” mentality you can totally transform a piece destined for a landfill and give it a second (or even third) life. Some minor repairs, refurbishing, or upcycling can go a long way toward making a piece feel new. While you might need to dig a bit, thrift, consignment, and antique stores are great places to find quality furniture at amazing prices! By buying used or salvaging from the curb you not only have the freedom to customize the piece to your style/liking, but you are saving a piece from an expedited road trip to the landfill. 

My Favorite Places to Buy Used in Gainesville, FL

Here is my (biased) top 5 list of thrift/consignment/salvage/estate sale companies in Gainesville, FL ranked based on where I have found the best prices and pieces with the most upcycle potential:

  1. Reuse Planet @ 1540 NE Waldo Rd
  2. Goodwill @ 1223 NW 23rd Ave (particularly good if you go on Monday and Tuesday mornings)
  3. Great American Estate Sales and Services
  4. The Repurpose Project @ 1920 NE 23rd Ave
  5. Haven - Gainesville Attic Resale Store @ 300 NW 8th Ave








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