used goods FAQs
This Q & A is specific to used goods (how we acquire used product, what we’ll accept, donations and downsizing, etc.).
Do you buy or consign other people’s stuff?
No- we do not purchase or consign product from the public.
That being said, we do want to help those who are motivated to cash in on their treasures (and who are willing to do the work of garnering a return). And- there are places that do purchase and consign — so we’ve put together a list of resources for you guys.
Why don’t you buy or consign?
For a number of reasons:
First, we are on a mission to save the stuff at greatest risk of winding up in the landfill, so if someone believes their items have value, we consider those items to be in the hands of a good steward (and not at imminent risk of being thrown away).
As our boomer population continues to downsize, there’s an overabundance of unneeded stuff entering the used marketplace. This means that individual items are hard to sell, and just not worth what they used to be.
In addition, many owners remember how hard they worked to buy that $2000 sofa, and are emotionally connected to the value of the item without regard for what the marketplace would actually bear (often, nothing… and think of what that does to ego). Within this context, it’s unsurprising that most people who are seeking a financial return on their stuff have an inflated perception of what their items are worth when they set out to realize a return — and the chances that we’ll piss someone off with our best offer is just too high.
If you don’t buy or consign, then how do you get your stuff?
That’s a great question. About half of our secondhand product is brought into the shop by a team of vendors: other resellers who have established their own businesses in the field, and who signed on with Junket within weeks of our November 2013 expansion. They are responsible for sourcing, pricing, displaying, and maintaining their product at the shop. We are no longer taking on new vendors.
The other half of our secondhand mix belongs to Junket. This product reaches us in a range of ways, but we rely on the efficiencies of scale to offset the exponentially higher labor involved in the work that we do.
In order to make the hand-sorting of buttons, testing of ink pens, and disassembly of broken lamps viable processes, we acquire our stuff by the cartload, by the truckload, by the houseful…and we’ve taken the time to get organized around our key product lines.
We have a strong network of home organizers, real estate agents, customers, and others (even sanitation workers!) who appreciate our desire to keep good, used stuff out of the landfills, and who keep us in mind when they encounter situations where good used stuff is at risk of going to waste.
Do you do pick-ups?
Yes, but on a very limited basis, with a clear understanding of what’s to be retrieved (photos required) and only in Minneapolis/St. Paul proper. If we arrive and determine the item is not salvageable/salable, we will direct you to a more appropriate resource.
We need help cleaning out a house. Would you do that in trade for stuff?
While we don’t do full house clean-outs, we would like to help you save/rescue usable goods, and when we do this, we don’t charge for our labor. With luck, our effort will leave you with renewed energy to tackle what remains.
What we can save for creative reuse often goes above/beyond what other resellers would find interesting (broken books, stained linens, old papers and photos, etc.), so if you’re in the planning stages of a downsizing project that’ll happen in Minneapolis or St. Paul proper and you’d like to build our work into your plan, we’d love to talk with you about fitting into your timeline (between ‘I’ve taken everything of value to me’ and ‘send in the Junk Hauler’).
If your plan is already in action (mother’s Minneapolis house is going on the market next month and you’d like to avoid throwing out a bunch of useful stuff), take a few photos of what you’re dealing with, and then give us a shout – we’ll try to help.
We want to do the most good possible when we assist, so we’re selective about where our work can save the most viable, usable content. And, the more time you can give us, the likelier it is we’ll be able to find a way to help.
Please also bear in mind that we’re able to salvage – and how much time, expense, and waste we’ll be able to help you save – will depend largely on the contents and the state of the house (smoke, mold, or animal waste, for example, severely restrict what we’re able to save and resell – but it’s still worth calling us so we can help make that assessment).
Can I get a tax form for my donation?
No. Junket is a for-profit company, so any donations are offered out of the goodness of your heart.
While our vision and values are focused on saving the planet and helping make it easier for people to reuse, we are very much a for-profit company (and we’ve chosen this structure to set an example of doing well by doing good — because we believe that ALL for-profit companies should operate with societal welfare in mind).
We also have concerns about abuse in the secondhand goods donation industry, and by choosing to operate as a for-profit organization, we steer clear of involvement in a system that is peppered with fraud.
Long story short: Our collective accumulation of used stuff is worth far less than many folks are claiming on their tax returns. Stained and damaged goods? Even less. These goods are free to the companies receiving them, and there’s a strong secondhand market for textiles (at pennies-per-pound costs). This means that there is zero motivation to speak out… rendering the entire system complicit.
By operating as a for-profit, enabling fraud is a non-issue for Junket (and we’re free to legitimately do good, without perks, and be appreciated for it).
For better or worse, then, why would someone donate to you without getting a tax form?
Great question! People prioritize what’s important to them in many different ways. So while money is a powerful motivator for some (and many people can truly benefit from legal tax perks), and while there are others with strong ties to the social service objectives of their chosen recipient non-profit, it’s not the be-all, end-all for everyone.
In fact, many people donate merely to avoid the guilt of throwing useful things away. We’re a good fit for these folks, who reach out for our help in ensuring that functional items continue to function.
Some feel strongly about knowing that items that have held meaning for loved ones would also find new life and new meaning with new owners. We’ve established a reputation for holding our donors’ treasures (and histories) in esteem.
Others have an artist’s eye for the beauty found in older, often imperfect items (the handmade lace on a stained napkin, intricate leather tooling on a broken belt, the gorgeous illustrations inside an old book with a broken binding…). These visually-oriented folks are aware that certain bits and pieces hold potential for conscientious creators (those who appreciate the time-value of such pieces, and who would prefer not to ruin immaculate versions of the same).
These people are also sadly aware that such beautiful remainders are likely to go directly into the waste stream if donated to a traditional thrift store.
We even have conscientious people donating items salvaged from their work places. In these cases, it wouldn’t be ethically appropriate for the employee to personally profit from cast-offs, but they want to do what’s right environmentally and have gotten permission from their employers to save/donate surplus/remainder materials and/or things otherwise destined for the landfill (note: some of our content is literally pulled right from the dump).
Lastly, our Longfellow neighbors appreciate what we’re doing to foster community, enthusiasm for reuse and thoughtful consumption behaviors. As such, they often donate because it feels good knowing that their unneeded stuff is helping us build a thriving business that brings vitality to the neighborhood.
We’re sure there are other reasons, too – but these are the ones we hear when people come to visit.
I can support that! So, what can I bring to Junket?
Another great question. If you want to help us do the most good possible, we encourage you to make a visit to the shop, get familiar with our product offerings, and do your best to contribute within that same general oeuvre.
In general, we’re looking for products made of or directly derived from materials found in nature: silk/linen/wool/cotton/leather/blends of same, paper, glass, metal, ceramic, stone, wood, etc., and/or made before 1970.
What about stained and broken stuff?
Surprise: Damaged goods can be wonderful fodder for artists. While we discourage the donation of pretty much *anything* plastic, you’d be surprised what a creative brain could do with so many imperfect things made of solid materials. Broken books, broken china, broken furniture, and stained textiles (those with natural fibres and/or detailed handwork) can be repaired and/or put to creative reuse. Broken dictionaries? Yes, please!
In the case of your damaged porcelain/china/ceramics/glass: we’re happy to collect the stuff and help get it into the hands of mosaic artists (our thought: if we can channel the broken stuff to those who like it broken, perhaps we can keep more of the functional stuff available for those who’ll appreciate and use it).
And: a big, special ‘yes’ goes to contributing anything that just looks weary and worn.’Kids’ who’ve grown up in mass-produced culture (i.e. our massive Millenial generation!) are largely enamored of items with substance, history, and character. If it needs a refresh once it reaches us, we’ll gladly perk ‘er up a bit.
Is there anything you won’t take?
There are very few things that we would turn away outright. That being said, we rely heavily on the spirit of reciprocal benefit when it comes to donations. While we see the sloughing-off of detritus happen at some of the larger donation centers (and these centers have their purpose and the systems to appropriately manage more of that content than individual consumers), we’re grateful that we’ve rarely been a dumping ground (most people genuinely want to help… kind of like us!).
If you operate within that spirit of help on your first donation trip to the shop, we’ll be in great shape — and if you’d like guidance for future visits, please just ask us how you can be most helpful, and we’ll be happy to chat about it.
But back to the very few things we would turn away outright…
Generally, if something was cheaply made within the last 20-30 years, we’re probably not the best place for it (whereas Goodwill or Arc’s Value Village might be happy to take that imitation Salad Spinner and put a price on it).
We struggle with CRT TVs and monitors (the heavy, boxy ones)…yes, even if they’re working. That being said, if they’ve got that 70s space age look or if they’re even older, and have a retro look to them, they could very well find appreciation with some young whippersnapper — and so, we’d be happy to consider them.
Mattresses aren’t easy for us to manage… but if you’ve got super old metal box springs/platforms, they can be useful for merchandising/display. True feather-beds are a different story: we can launder and reuse the down.
We’re not much into porn: It’s one of those things that tends to polarize people (and makes a lot of people unhappy in one way or another). Plus, the industry has a history of exploitation that runs counter-intuitive to our mission of making the world a better place. While we recognize that many thoughtful, thinking adults embrace the stuff, and while we admittedly like to push boundaries a little bit, and while you may see the occasional kitsch/vintage nudie item in a discreet corner from time to time, you’re not going to see us hustling Hef’s mags (and we’d prefer not to have to handle them, if you know what we mean…).
Last thing: toxic sludge. That’s what Hennepin County’s environmental services dept is about. But if you’ve got cleaning supplies that you’re thinking about pouring down the drain, please don’t. We may be able to use ‘em (we walk a fine line between wanting to use non-toxic cleaners and feeling compelled to at least *use* the stuff that’s been made and distributed). Summary: if you’ve gone all castile and lavender on your under-sink collection, please do send the unwanteds our way.
Do you accept trades?
Nope. Barter makes for tricky tax situations all around. We’ve been known to occasionally send a modest token home with a generous soul, but it’s an appreciation thing — not a transactional thing.
Gosh- this is so different from anywhere else! Does it actually work?
Yup! We’re operating our business in a way that feels true to our values – and true to our community’s desires and needs. We know it’s different — and we hope you find that it’s different in a very good way.
We think it helps that we genuinely want to make it possible — and easier — for other folks to also do the right thing(s). People seem enthusiastic about getting behind our efforts, and we’re enthusiastic about having help!
Anything else I should know?
We appreciate your having taken the time to understand what we’re up to. If you’ve got a question that hasn’t been answered here, please shoot us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Julie & the Junket crew