Design & Interiors

Used furniture from expats worth buying

Carpets sold at Toi Market.
Carpets sold at Toi Market. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU | NMG 

New is overrated.

A little selective and judicious picking in an expatriate’s house who is leaving the country can save you thousands of shillings while still filling your home with unique furniture and utensils.

Most expatriates tend to ship furniture from abroad and whenever they move back they would rather sell them.

Alex Brovarnik who is selling his furniture after a year in Kenya says that it would be more expensive to ship them.

“There are fairly new and gently used I would love to move with them but it is cheaper to buy new ones when I get home than to ship these ones,” he says.

While many wealthy Kenyans would frown upon buying pre-owned furniture, the quality is better than new items made by the local artisans.

Dennis Ouma who sells imported used products at Toi market in Nairobi’s Kibera says that the merchandise is in high demand and buyers are always scouting for designer goods.

“I sell used carpets which cannot be found in shops in Kenya. They are high-quality, really classy and in great shape,” he says. Mr Ouma says that the most sought-after items are toys especially those that are easily cleaned.

“Even White people come here looking for quality goods they can buy at an affordable price,” he says.

The fact that it is expensive to get good quality furniture shipped from abroad, owning stylish items at a steal is an alternative that is gaining popularity especially among the middle-class Kenyans.

tea cups sold at Toi Market

A variety of tea cups sold at Toi Market. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU | NMG

Buying online

Social media pages have made it possible for Kenyans to buy exquisite furniture sold by leaving expatriates.

However, just like you would walk through many shops to get the good stuff, Facebook pages like Nairobi Expats Marketplace require patience. Some expats sell hangers or even sieves so going through the pages may be a little tedious.

“There are times that you get posts of just normal, boring goods. You have to be patient so as to get outstanding items,” says Audrey Anyango, a shopper.

She says that finding gems at this popular flea online market and others organised in Nairobi’s upmarket estates require persistence, haggling skills and an early start.

Ms Anyango, however, advises fellow shoppers to be cautious as some items such as beds could be infested with bedbugs.

“I don’t buy mattresses because I cannot use one that is used. I also bleach the toys before I can let my children play with them,” she says.

Toys sold at Toi Market. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU | NMG

Toys sold at Toi Market. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU | NMG

Flea markets

While Facebook is a good option, there also numerous places that sell expats goods. For instance, there are physical shops, but their prices are high compared to buying directly from an expat.

Michael Mwangi is one of the sellers of imported second-hand utensils. He says his electric jugs and kettles, for instance cost between Sh1,000 to Sh3,000 because they are of good quality.

“They may be priced the same as the new ones but they are better quality and could last even longer than the new ones sold locally,” he says.

It is also possible to get the gently used furniture, utensils and toys shipped from abroad from flea shops in Dubai, the US and the UK through international cargo companies.