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More people’s trash is becoming other people’s treasure. The used furniture business, once the province of fancy old tea cabinets and stained frat house sofas, is on pace to hit $16.6 billion in sales by 2025, a 70% increase from 2018.
The trend has so far been driven by online marketplaces and smaller startups, but on Wednesday things got real when Ikea stepped into the ring. The global furniture giant, driven by its question to eliminate waste by 2030, launched its own buy-back and re-sale scheme.
Save a Couch, Save the Planet
Americans dump 12 million tons of furniture on landfills every year, or six times the amount they did in 1960. But, in a sign that less is going to waste, the used furniture market has seen rapid gains in the last two years.
- High-end vintage site 1stDibs raised $76 million in VC funding in 2019, and Chairish raised $33 million last year. During the pandemic, Chairish saw sales grow between 70% and 120% every month compared to 2019.
- Meanwhile, as e-commerce sales grew 27.6% in 2020, furniture became one of the top three searched categories on Facebook Marketplace, signaling that second-hand trading of mid- and low-market furniture is at a modern high.
“The real consideration here is that it’s about how we make sustainable and healthy living easy, accessible and affordable, and really mainstream,” said Hege Saebjornsen, an environmental expert at Ikea.
Some Scratches Welcome: For its part, Ikea will now buy back products in new condition for half price, ones with minor scratches for 40%, and ones with several scratches for 30%. Those who return furniture that isn’t in good, usable condition — which Ikea will salvage for materials — will receive a voucher. Used items will be sold in a special part of Ikea stores.
You spent all those hours assembling the thing with an Allen wrench, the least you should get is 50%.