Monday, April 20, 2009

A $90,000 Desk? Or, How to Turn $90,000 into $100 Over the Course of 38 Years

About a month ago, I went out to Beaverton to look at a desk that I saw posted on Craigslist. It was advertised as a "Huge Burl Wood Executive Desk with Return" (or something like that). The guy was asking $1000 for it, on the logic that his father had gotten the desk "on sale" in 1971, paying a mere $17,000 for it.

OK - think about that for a second - $17k in '71, when the average price for a HOME was around $25,000. So...let's think about what went into this buying decision - "should I buy this INVESTMENT PROPERTY over here, or this SUPER-HOT DESK over there?"

It probably went nothing like that, but it boggles the mind that someone would pay the equivalent of around $90,000 (according to for a NEW piece of furniture.

At any rate, I went out to look at the desk. It was MASSIVE, alright, the main desk measures about 8' wide by 4' deep - then there's the return! It had also seen better days - the top needed to be completely refinished, and to make matters worse, there was an area of water damage where main desk surface meets the return where the particleboard (yes, 17,000 1971 dollars for a desk, and the damn thing's made of particleboard!) had swelled up, and because of this, the return would no longer meet up properly with the main desk surface. It also had REALLY HIDEOUS hardware on it.

Despite all this, it was a pretty impressive piece of furniture. When I went out to look at it at first, I told the guy "I don't want to buy it, but if you wanted to put the money into having it restored (we would do the restoration), I will take it on consignment and split it 50/50." He said he'd think about it.

Meanwhile, I kept seeing the desk pop up on Craigslist, with the price steadily getting lower and lower. A few days ago, I saw "$300 or best offer. If no one takes it by Sunday, it's going away". So I thought, what the hell, make an offer. I emailed him and said I'd give him $100 for it. I didn't hear back for a few days, but on Saturday evening, I got a call from him saying "if you can come take it away tomorrow, it's yours". So, I hastily made arrangements for my mover to go pick it up, and now it sits, in several pieces, in my warehouse.

This is a good thing, I think. Once the top is refinished, the hardware is swapped out and the necessary repairs are made, it's going to be a pretty amazing piece - perhaps the ultimate "Power Desk". I mean, admit it, you'd be pretty impressed if you walked into someone's office, and they were sitting behind this incredible 8-foor burl wood monstrosity. And I mean that in the best possible way.


Jody Reale said...

It's too bad I'm not closer; this desk is perfect for me. Because I'm compensating for a small laptop, I'm drawn to gigantic desks. And I've also been a deft student of the "buy high, sell low" strategy for many years. Why buck a lifelong trend now? Come to think of it, wrap it up. I'll take it. (Not.)

Janus Home said...

Ha ha...well, the asking price will be SIGNIFICANTLY less than $90k once we're done with it. ;-)