When Mary Duffy bought her house from Alfred in May 2020, she didn’t know how to furnish it.
It’s not that Duffy couldn’t afford to shop, or that he didn’t have a keen sense of home decor – it was that so many big box retailers and furniture websites were running out of stock. supply.
Shortages in the supply chain of everything from furniture to appliances have plagued buyers in Maine and beyond. Instead of giving up and waiting for the global market to recover, Duffy did what many Mainers decided to do: buy second-hand and second-hand products. Even experienced second-hand sellers have noticed increased demand as the pandemic disrupted the supply chain.
“I have always had an interest in antiques. I started going to real estate sales this summer to try to furnish myself, ”said Duffy.
Duffy took his second-hand shopping a step further, and in the fall of 2021 began restoring antique furniture for resale, both as a hobby and as a side activity in response to the growing demand for furniture. second hand.
“I’m noticing from my clients that there is definitely a demand for storage rooms, bookcases, dining tables and chairs,” Duffy said. “These articles seem to be always very popular articles. ”
Mark Bolduc, owner of Mark’s Appliances in Glenburn, has been selling used appliances since 1983. He said that while demand for used appliances – especially refrigerators, ranges, washers and dryers – has stabilized relative to to the rush he saw at the start of the pandemic, the past few years have been good for his business.
“I had a lot of clients because of the lack of supply,” Bolduc said.
The problem, however, was that its inventory – which is based not only on individuals providing second-hand items, but also warehouses of devices from previous seasons that were never purchased – was also affected.
“There aren’t as many of them as before, but I still have a lot to choose from and sell,” said Bolduc.
One of the biggest changes for Bolduc, in addition to increased demand, was the number of appliances he sold online.
“I’ll send a photo of the outside of the unit, inside the unit and negotiate a price over the phone,” Bolduc said. “I didn’t do this as much before the pandemic. “
It’s not just the people who make a living from the flea market who are seeing the change. The buying, selling and trading groups on Facebook have seen a wave of activity as people compete for high-demand goods that have been stifled by the supply chain.
Christopher Lord, administrator of the Northern Maine Marketplace Facebook group, said his group has grown over the past year.
“I can tell you that I saw 30 to 50 new members per week – which is not a bad growth rate, considering the group serves a smaller, more rural area of northern Maine,” Lord said.
He noticed that users were posting more vehicles for sale, including trucks, cars, and snowmobiles.
“As costs have increased for new and used vehicles, I suspect the supply chain is having an effect on the purchasing behaviors of group members,” Lord said. “Just looking at the used vehicle search rate through these groups leads me to believe as such. “
Bara Grupper, one of the directors of the Ellsworth Facebook group, Maine Area Barter / Swap / Sell, also noticed larger second-hand items being sold through their group, from premium cars and jewelry to items. household appliances, including coffee makers, pressure washers and furniture.
“The quality of the articles is much better than usual,” said Grupper. “People [are] either earn money by downsizing to meet bills, or by selling items they don’t use as much.
Heather Marie Rickard, another Facebook group administrator, said the most important thing she noticed in this group and others that she moderates was people asking for more money for goods. used, often “ask for a lot more. [than] something really worth it.
“It’s something that I noticed, which can be understandable with a lot of people who lost their jobs last year,” Rickard said. “Everyone is just trying to survive.”