The biker festival is here, which means loud motorcycle noises all night, which is what got me out of bed at 4:00 a.m. On the up side, yesterday was a stunning day, 70 degrees, low humidity, geese flying south overhead. In fact, while walking to work I thought I saw a little hint of color in the trees. Do you see it? Right in the center of the picture, across the pond?

All the nearby trees were bright green, but there are at least signs that fall is on its way.

Last year during the biker festival we talked about bringing in toy Harleys for the bikers who come buy presents for their grandkids, but we never got around to it. We did have a couple of nice big shipments of toys, though. Trains, wooden baby toys, quoits and mikado games, spy gear…

Yep. One of my favorite items is the thing that looks like an MP3 player that allows the user to listen in on conversations up to 300 feet away. It claims to be intended for wildlife and ball games, but I can really see a lot of ways to get in trouble with it. It is part of a series of scopes and sonic devices from one of our science suppliers. My kids are all too old to get a kick out of this stuff, but they would have loved it a few years ago.

Knitting in Color referenced this article: 10 Things You Should Never Buy New. I was surprised to find on it most of the things I usually buy. Well, not food or yarn or fabric. But books, music, movies, toys, games, and tools. Which pretty well covers discretionary spending around our place.

She also has some really pretty socks over there, as well as those gloves. I like to just go look at those gloves every now and then. I have been knitting my bit, but #1 son is nagging me a lot about finishing his jacket (you know it as Brooklyn) before the weather cools off. Especially now that it has cooled off a bit. So I have only gotten this much of the pink Bawk done. The vast majority of my knitting time has gone toward the long long right sleeve of Brooklyn.

But back to used versus new. I believe in buying used things, not only as a matter of frugality, but also as an ecological decision. When you buy something used (and I think this also applies to things found in shops like T.J. Maxx or Tuesday Morning, which carry stuff that was going to be discarded), you keep things out of landfills and avoid the use on your behalf of more resources to make new stuff. I would have put cars on the “never buy new” list. And furniture, which is generally not made as well nowadays as it used to be. And while I wouldn’t say never buy new clothes, I have nothing against used ones. Dishes and kitchen gear are just as good used as new, in most cases, and appliances are often tossed out by owners who do not have the skills to repair them, even though they have many years of life left in them. Particularly those made before the days of planned obsolesence. I recently bought a used camera, and I’m very happy with it.

My overall positive view of used things may owe something to the fact that I have inherited most of my furniture, china, silver, linens, etc. I promise you that my great-grandmother’s Roseville pottery is better than the new vase at Target. So I have no prejudices against used goods in general, as someone might who grew up with all new things.

I have nothing against used books, either. I think I have spent about $70 on used books so far this year. And that $70 got me a lot of books, too. Plus of course my Booksfree subscription, which is a matter of renting used books.

But it is serendipity. I happened to find an Edmund Crispin used. I am thrilled to find good out-of-print books used. But I can’t go out intending to buy The Daughter of Time used, can I? I can’t decide that I want the Sophie Von Otter Messiah or some Jackie Chan movie and just go pick it up used, can I?

Apparently, one can. Online. Books and DVDs and music, too. There is a whole big garage sale going on here on the web, and I didn’t know about it. In fact, I can get The Daughter of Time used for $2.46 and $3.49 shipping at Amazon, which comes to $5.95, rather than the $9.75 I would pay for it new. I would pay more for a used copy of Loop-d-Loop than I would pay new, though, and I can’t get Poetry in Stitches used at all. But I could get the remaining Jackie Chan movie to complete our family collection. Knitting in Color also recommended Bookfinder, which gave me a brief moment of excitement at the prospect of getting a used copy of Poetry in Stitches before announcing “We don’t have that book any more, though we may have others like it.” It is a sort of clearinghouse, though, and will direct you to some source which has your book available (or once had your book available…)

This is good to know. It might be fun, next time you want some bit of media, to go see whether you could get it used. Just remember that your local book or music store can’t stay in business to sell you the stuff you can’t get used, if you only go there as a last resort. Just mentioning that.

Used toys can have safety issues, but you certainly can sometimes find impressive bargains at yard sales and such. I have an employee discount on toys and books, myself, and find little amusement in yard sales, so I am probably not going to give up the convenience and selection of buying new, but I will at least be aware of the possibility. And I will keep my eyes open for good used tools. I don’t sell those, after all.

What did they recommend not buying used? Wet suits. DVD players. Safety gear. Shoes and matresses, though any of us who has slept in a hotel or a hospital has slept on a used mattress, so I am not sure they are right on that. I will make certain, however, not to buy any used wet suits.