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Buying Second-Hand Furniture Safely During the Pandemic

Updated: Nov 24, 2020

If you're thinking of purchasing affordable, pre-loved items for your home, you may have concerns about furniture that has recently been donated during the pandemic.

Foundations Furniture, Gateshad's Community Furniture Charity, is open.

Here we share our safety measures in full, to explain what is being done to remove the risks when buying pre-loved items for your home. We include details of all of the measures in place:-

  • when second hand furniture is collected from donors

  • when second hand furniture is being cleaned/quarantined

  • when customers visit the showroom

  • when payment is taken

  • when items are being delivered and aftercare

(We go into greater detail about the safety measures in place when Foundations are collecting donated items in a separate blog.)

How We Safely Collect Second Hand Items

Before we collect second furniture from local people we:-

  • sanitise the van

  • make sure the driving team have all of the PPE they need

  • make sure we have our cleaning kits ready

When we collect second hand items from donors we:-

  • wipe down any furniture before it is loaded onto the van

  • use all of the safety measures to keep our staff and donors safe

When the items arrive back at Foundations:-

  • Furniture with hard surfaces is cleaned thoroughly on arrival and any items with soft surfaces are immediately placed in our quarantine area for at least 72 hours

  • Furniture is labelled with a date it arrives, and a date it becomes safe to put on display

How do you keep quarantined furniture safe from being recontaminated by other items?

Foundations is changing the way that we collect furniture for the time being, and these times will be different to the times that we deliver furniture to customers. This will ensure that the items that are incoming (which need to be quarantined) and the items that are being delivered to people's homes, are never in contact on our van or in our showroom. Our van is cleaned each night too, so that the storage area of our van is free from being a contamination risk.

The coronavirus can live on some surfaces for up to 72 hours (3 days). Our cleaning practices will remove of the risk on hard surfaces, but to guarantee that the virus has completely gone from the surfaces of our soft furniture (sofas, mattresses upholstered chairs etc), we are closed on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays giving each item of soft furniture at least 89 hours (from 4pm on Fridays to 9am on Mondays) in quarantine.

How Safe am I When I Visit the Shop?

Foundations has lots of new measures in place to keep customers and colleagues safe.

Masks are Compulsory in our Showroom

Foundations welcomes you to our showroom Tuesdays to Fridays between 9am to 4pm. There's no need to book an appointment but you may have to queue for a short time. To avoid the queues, you can book an appointment if you wish.

You very own appointment gives you 30 minutes of exclusive browsing, with no other customers in the shop at the same time. Our team will have cleaned in between each customer, including door handles, door bell and any other areas that the previous customer has come into contact with. You can book your browsing appointment by calling 0191 4778337 or emailing foundations.project@btconnect.com from 10am on 16th June.

Please do not visit us if your have symptoms of coronavirus.

Can I bring someone with me?

Come alone if you can but if you need assistance, we encourage you to bring someone with you. Children that cannot be left at home alone are also welcome, but they must be able to follow our safety guidelines and must be supervised by their parent/carer at all times.

What Happens When I arrive?

When you ring the bell, put on your mask, stand back and one of our team members will greet you at the door, and be with you to help you from start to finish, maintaining 2 metre distance throughout. Even though we'll keep our distance, our staff will be wearing PPE when they greet you to provide even greater reassurance that we are doing everything possible to keep you safe. Ask our team as many questions as you want, and there's lots of notices around the building too, to help you to know what to expect.

We have a new, one way route through our showrooms. Our team member will lead the way and there will be floor markings and signs to direct you too.

There are hand sanitiser stations for you to use when you enter and leave buildings, our staff will point these out to you.

Can I Touch The Furniture As I Browse?

We want you to pick the furniture that is right for you and looking inside wardrobes and drawers, or sitting on sofas for example, is an important part of selecting items.

We'll be asking customers to keep this to a minimum, and if preferred, our team member will demonstrate for you by opening doors and drawers and standing back so that you can have a look. If you would like to sit on a sofa or bed that you are thinking of buying, please let the team member know and we'll get you some clean protective sheets to sit on.

Please do not touch any items if you can help it, and do not touch those that have a 'SOLD' sticker on.

How do I pay?

If you have found an item (or items) you'd like to purchase, we have a safe payment station at the very end of our one way route. A protective shield is in place to help you to pay safely, and we encourage contactless payments where possible. We still accept money too if you're unable to do contactless payments. We're also taking secure payment over the telephone.

We normally ask for a signature on our copy of your receipt. Sharing pens to do this, and passing paperwork to and from our customers isn't ideal, so for now, we're not asking for signatures from our customers.

How is my furniture delivered safety?

Once you purchase an item it gets a sold sticker added immediately, so that any customers that visit after you, will know not to touch it.

When you pay for your items, we work with you to arrange the most suitable delivery day. We'll also ask you about your delivery preference:-

  • item(s) to be left at the door

  • item(s) to be brought into the house

Items will be loaded onto our freshly sanitised van by our team on the designated delivery day, who wear PPE at all times. Our driving team change their PPE between each delivery, and practice strict hygiene practices.

When we arrive, we'll ring you from the van if possible to let you know we're outside. We'll then leave your items at your door if this is your preference or bring the items into your home if needed. We'll always maintain a 2 metre distance from you when we are inside your home, and we ask that other household members to keep 2 metres away too. Before we enter, we ask that you:-

  • ensure your home is well ventilated

  • open all interior doors in advance

  • ensure that there are no obstructions from your front door, to the area where you want us to place your item(s) so that the delivery team do not have to touch anything unnecessarily

We usually ask for a signature to confirm we have delivered your items but we have removed this requirement. Instead, we will take a picture of the items we leave at your door, or within your home. (These images are never shared in line with our GDPR and data protection policy, and will be taken in such a way that nobody can be identified.)

What if I am Unwell on the Day of My Delivery?

If you begin to display symptoms of coronavirus when your delivery is due, please contact us and let us know. We will give all customers a courtesy call on the morning of their delivery to check that nobody in the household is displaying any signs of the coronavirus. If someone in the household is experiencing symptoms we will give you the option of rearranging your delivery date or having your delivery placed at your front door.

Should I clean My Furniture When it Arrives?

It is up to each household how they want to approach the cleanliness of their items after they have been delivered. We recommend that you leave items to quarantine for 72 hours or use a cleaning product and cleaning method that is suitable for the fabric/surface of your items.

More Useful Resources

Donating Second Hand Furniture Safely During the Pandemic

Furniture Poverty: Are You Affected?

The Cost of Second Hand Furniture

With no strict eligibility criteria at Foundations, our ethos is to support anyone struggling to afford furniture, for any reason, so please get in touch if you need assistance on 0191 4778337, foundations.project@btconnect.com of via the Foundations contact page. You can also use our contact details to donate furniture to our charity, it's quick and easy and help change somebody's life.

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