Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Black Hole of Second Hand Goods

Haven't blogged in awhile, but need to clear my head before some editing, so I thought I'd touch on this subject.  As a very low budget movie producer I often find myself in thrift stores and Goodwill stores looking for inexpensive props.  I've been doing this kind of thing for near two decades and lately I've been noticing a trend.  There are fewer and fewer worthwhile items that fall into that "gently used" category.

It's actually a bit of a boon for me personally.  If I need a toy ray gun that we can dress up to be Colonel Onyx's next super weapon in an AV movie I can usually get one for under 2 bucks because it doesn't work.  But what about the kid whose parents are buying toys at the Goodwill because they can't afford the brand new ones in Target or Wal Mart?  (After some thought I've started testing toys I find before buying them as props.  If they work, they're usually left behind).  Furniture, again, I can paint something, prop a 2x4 behind it and keep it standing as a set piece for a scene and then use it as a shop table until it fall apart, but what about the family who is in there to furnish the kid's playroom?  A piece of presswood furniture isn't even that easy to fix.  Sanding and painting hardly do the job.

What I realized is that we're coming to a black hole of useable second hand goods.  Sure, the upper middle class can still get deals on what was once very overpriced furniture and goods that the rich owned to look at and not use, but what does the middle class pass on to the up and coming youth who are just scraping by as they start life?  Junk!  We've been buying foreign made, cheaply produced junk for YEARS.  Stuff that was never worth fixing because it was cheaper and easier to buy a new one.  Non stick pots and pans with the Teflon flaking off.  Toys with busted springs and decaying, dried plastic.  Furniture that was 30% cardboard.

So, we go back further to find our "slightly used" goods, but those are becoming antiques and we all know that antiques cost more.  

Don't even get started on electronics.  You can't pass along a computer, phone, game or even TV on anymore.  They're outdated months after you buy them.  An entire segment of industry, keeping money local by recycling quality goods that kids have grown out of or adults have upgraded, is fading away and it leaves a segment of the population with no recourse except to buy the cheap, mass produced new junk that caused the situation in the first place.

Recycle, reuse, repurpose.