How to source great quality second-hand and vintage furniture in Leeds

Furnishing your home can not only be costly but purchasing new items isn't always the most sustainable option.

Thursday, 21st October 2021, 11:45 am
Gina Morrison, general manager at Emmaus Leeds Secondhand Superstore, St Mary's Street, Lincoln Green, Leeds. Picture Tony Johnson

Just as we're told to swap out plastics for eco-friendly reusable coffee cups or shopping bags, we can also 're-use' and repurpose furniture for our home.

Buying second-hand, or 'vintage', will help save on the environmental resources involved in producing brand-new items - and it will also save you some money too.

There are plenty of opportunities to source secondhand furniture and furnishings in Leeds, whether that's from joining an online 'swap and sell' group on Facebook, visiting fairs such as the Leeds Vintage Furniture & Home Fair in Farsley's Sunny Bank Mills or from one of the city's many charity shops.

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Emmaus Leeds Secondhand Superstore

Emmaus Leeds has a Secondhand Superstore in Burmantofts that is filled with furniture, antiques and trinkets.

The charity's Regional Communications Officer, Jess Gibson, said: "It is massive space so there's lots of sofas, dining tables, units, cabinets - all second hand.

"People in the local area have donated all of those items and they range from vintage solid oak furniture, really good quality but older items, to the slightly newer, more modern things as well.

"It's a place where you can find really unique pieces. "

Emmaus Leeds Secondhand Superstore.

The stock is always changing as people donate more items and the charity also does home removals, meaning that there is often excellent quality and quirky items on offer.

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Jess said: "Shops are remaking furniture pieces now from new to look like they're older, like from the 60s, whereas we actually get the genuine ones from the 60s.

"It funny how things come back in fashion.

"A lot of the time it's about stumbling across something and getting lucky.

"You might find three things one day and nothing the next, it just depends on the stock levels as it's different every single time you go.

"We're constantly getting new things in so I would say to persevere with it and visit these places on a regular basis because great things will come up but you might not stroke gold on the very first visit."

However, its not just about bagging a bargain - all of the profits go straight back into the charity, which supports people who have experienced homelessness and social exclusion by offering a home, work and an opportunity to progress

Jess said: "100% of what's made in the shop goes back into the charity.

"What's really unique about Emmaus says it's a homelessness charity so the model is that above the secondhand shop there's actually a whole community where 26 individuals who were formerly homeless are given a chance come into the charity and rebuild their lives.

"They get their own bedroom and en-suite bathroom, they get all their meals given to them, they get offered 40 hours of work per week in the shop, so they might be helping sell the furniture, they might be moving, them lifting, them driving about to collect more furniture.

"It's all part of a social enterprise. A lot of these people have actually been street homeless so they've really been through a lot, and they get a chance to gain new skills

"The ultimate goal is for these people to then move on and to find their own accommodation and to just get back on their own two feet,.

"They're fully supported by the charity for as long as they need to be and when they're ready to move on then.

She added: "Second-hand shopping is more sustainable, better quality, cheaper, and it's got more character to it.

"Then the whole other layer to it is that for every penny of spending that's going back into a charity that's helping the homeless in Leeds."

Emmaus Leeds also has a stall in Kirkgate Market.

Zero Waste Leeds has complied a comprehensive list of places where people can donate and buy secondhand on its website: