Simone Pipek is a native of Cologne, Germany. She has worked with numerous German women’s magazines, including the German edition of Elle magazine. At the tender age of 29 she made the move to New York where she has been living for the past 10 years. She has worked on a number of writing projects since then in both German and English. She also writes on a regular basis as a New York correspondent for the German blog, Die Frohe Botschafterin. She grew up with a green consciousness. Caring for the environment is not only a trend for her, but a lifestyle. In her opinion, knowledge is power. So being educated is key to protect the earth. She is very happy about all the new bike paths the city has to offer.
If you are a little like me, and I hope you are, you love bargain hunting. These days, we all have to stretch the dollar. But shopping at big department stores is usually not the answer. Their merchandise, often manufactured without a hint of fair trade, carries a hefty carbon footprint and a veneer of toxic paint.
Better--and much more fun--alternatives are flea markets, antique stores, and last but not least, Craigslist.com. For me, it’s the thrill of the chase for the ultimate piece of wall hanging, the dresser that just needs a little love, or the floor lamp that only requires a new shade to come to life again. Priceless. Or, at the very least, easy on the budget.
There’s something else that makes it all worthwhile. Discovering that very special item, I am automatically being told a story. Those pieces lived a life before they met me, and in my fantasy I can draw pictures of the former life and think of many different tales this night table or vase might be able to narrate. I just have to listen closely when I touch and smell it for the first time.
And the best part is, I am buying something that has already been built. I’m not responsible for diminishing any further resources by my purchase. While it might be second hand, it’s new to me. The literal translation for used, or second hand, furniture in German is “Zweite Hand.” And that expression hits the mark.
I am, at the very least, the second person to own it. Basically, I’ve extended its life. And when its time with me is up, I take a picture and post the item on Craigslist. Certainly with a tear in my eye, but also with the assurance that its new owner will appreciate it as much as I did. Or, maybe they’ll appreciate it a little bit more since I added to its history. More to the point, I kept my carbon footprint to a minimum by buying locally.
Finding good flea markets with vintage and/or antique appeal is not always easy, especially in the winter time. With a forecast of rain or snow, the desire to leave the house lowers considerably. But even at this chilly time of year, I recently checked out the Stratford Antique Center. Located in a non-descriptive former warehouse, I felt like a child in FAO Schwartz at Christmas time.If you find yourself in New York, the Brooklyn Flea is another great option to enjoy an afternoon of ”antiquing.” (Although, the store relocated for the next three month from the outside in Dumbo to the inside of the landmarked building that used to host the Williamsburgh Savings Bank on 1 Hanson Place.) The lobby still occupies its old glamour and breath-taking architecture. The downstairs features the original three feet thick old vault door leading to a food court with yummy (and locally prepared) snacks. Click here for a map and directions.