A new secondhand store at the junction of Mamaroneck Avenue and Old White Plains Road proves the axiom that one person’s trash is another’s treasure. Perfect for the current economic times, it offers a place for people to turn unwanted items into cash and for others to find inexpensive household items and clothing.
“It’s also green to reuse and recycle stuff,” said affable owner Michael Braiotta. “It helps get us away from our throwaway culture."
Though he owns Jack Rabbit Roadside, which provides assistance in eight states to stranded motorists on behalf of insurance companies and car makers, Braiotta is having a blast hanging out at his new store, called Sam’s Seconds, an acronym of his three children’s first names.
Like his customers, Braiotta, 32, relishes the thrill of the hunt for wholesale secondhand items procured in estate sales or in auctions on foreclosed storage space and has been called back to audition for an A & E show called Storage Wars. Other shows illustrating the practice’s potentially lucrative elements—including American Pickers and Pawn Stars—have made bargain hunting chic.
Like many boys, Braiotta began collecting baseball cards, but after peaking in the mid-1990s, their value has dropped considerably. He then turned to selling secondhand merchandise online, but the fees became so exorbitant that he figured he was better off getting a storefront.
His consignment deal is a generous 50-50 split, but sellers aren’t always satisfied with the value the store places on items, since Braiotta likes to keep his prices low.
Recently, Jicnerth Veliz stopped in with clothing. He and his girlfriend decided to sell, but he walked away disappointed at their assessed value because Sam’s likes to keep its prices low.
“I’m dealing in volume here,” said Braiotta, who added that haggling is part of the fun. “This isn’t an affluent neighborhood and people are struggling, so everything is negotiable.”
The key, he said, is rotating the goods every day. He maintains a warehouse in Harrison and unlike the Goodwill, he will accept furniture.
The store offers a smorgasbord of tchotchkes, from figurines to VCR tapes to VCR players to old television sets. The most expensive item is a framed lithograph (number 174 in a series of 500) for $800 entitled “We the People,” by Melanie Taylor Hunt, which depicts scenes of the signing of the Constitution in front of Independence Hall in Philadelphia mingled with depictions of astronauts and a figure who resembles, not Rocky, but his nemesis, Apollo Creed.
Other items lying around the store include fishing poles, religious statues, a dartboard set, an historic map of Litchfield County, CT and a portrait of Malcolm X.
He also sells designer labels at bargain prices, including authenticated Gucci and Fendi handbags along with clothing by Timberland, Rocawear, American Eagle and a Kenneth Cole leather jacket for $40.
On the side, he also deals in finer items. He recently sold a signed copy of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s book The Beautiful and the Damned for $4,000. A signed first edition of the same title with a dust jacket can fetch up to $75,000, he said.
“In the store, we started with pots and pans,” he said. “Now we get collectors and interior decorators looking for off-the-wall, odd items,” like an old kerosene railroad lamp, for instance. “This is like a social club; we learn something new everyday.”
The challenge is to identify anything of value that comes through the door, know the provenance of as many items as possible and not let something valuable slip away
The store’s official hours are 9 to 9, but sometimes they stay open later. “The time goes by so fast because we’re having fun,” said one of Braiotta’s silent partners who works onsite. “We bargain with people and make jokes all the time, it’s fun. People tell their friends and the word spreads and business has picked up because of that.”
Sam's Seconds is located at 630 Mamaroneck Ave. in Mamaroneck, (914) 630-1139. Call or stop by to inquire about consignments for unwanted items.