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kbb Birmingham caught up with Looeeze Grossman, founder of and creative mind behind The Used Kitchen Company, which specialises in buying and selling used and ex-display kitchens.
The Used Kitchen Company's extensive online marketplace encourages homeowners and showrooms to recycle their kitchens and has done so for over 16 years. Now, kbb Birmingham have taken some time to sit down with Grossman to understand the ins and outs of her business, and what we can all learn from its attitude to sustainability.
kbb Birmingham: Can you start by telling us how The Used Kitchen Company came about?
Looeeze Grossman: About 17 years ago, I set up a company on eBay doing house clearances called Under the Hammer, encouraging people to recycle their old furniture. When I was approached to sell a customer’s kitchen, I had a lightbulb moment that there must be a huge number of kitchens being skipped. I got in touch with kitchen showrooms across the country to find out what they did with their displays as well as their client’s old kitchens. When they responded that they stored them or ripped them out and they ended up on a skip, I offered to sell them instead – an option that the showrooms and clients had never considered – and the rest is history. We now sell ex display kitchens for over 1000 showrooms nationwide as well as ongoing selling their client’s used kitchens too.
kbb: What’s the core driving force behind The Used Kitchen Company? Do you have any specific principles that you stick to?
LG: As you know sustainability is a key factor in our business ethos, and to find a kitchen a second or even third home is a huge contributor to a circular economy. Whether sustainability is a conscious reason that our buyers and sellers use our service, ultimately doesn’t matter as they are still saving on average 1-2tonnes of kitchen from landfill eitherway.
kbb: How has the last year of lockdowns affected your business?
LG: Surprisingly, lockdown has had a very positive effect on the business. As everyone has been at home and unable to spend their money on holidays or socialising, people have turned to home renovation. As a result we have been extremely busy , initially rescuing people who were left high and dry and often kitchen-less, mid-way through their builds, due to factories and manufacturers being closed and builders unable to work. We did a number of kitchen rescues, and as the months went on we have been inundated with both buyers and sellers who are keen to replace their kitchens.
kbb: What would you say is the most rewarding element of your job?
LG: Honestly, we love to see the results of someone achieving their dream kitchen on a budget. Through The Used Kitchen Company, people can afford a high end kitchen (that may be up to 10 years old) that they never thought they’d have. The before and after photos are a great testimony how well this works.
kbb: Tell us about a recent kitchen procurement of yours.
LG: It’s not just kitchens we sell, we sell high end and ex display furniture too. Recently we did an entire house of a Russian Oligarch and just loved the various homes the furniture ended up in. A farmhouse in Cumberland, and a newbuild in Cornwall. We also sold a number of kitchens for a showroom in Leeds where they benefitted from the buyers ordering two further kitchens for a development.
kbb: Do you think the kitchen is an area of the home that holds a particularly personal stamp?
LG: Absolutely. The kitchen is always a big investment, and as a rule something that people have been planning for months, if not longer. Homeowners spend a huge amount of time researching on Instagram, pinterest and interior magazines to gather ideas to create their very own version of their dream kitchen. Whether its colour, a feature light or extractor, or a combination of styles and finishes everyone wants to make their personal stamp on their new kitchen.
kbb: What have you done as a company to become more sustainable recently and encourage the idea of a circular economy?
LG: We already have converted the mindset of over 1000 showrooms to encourage them not only to sell their displays but more recently to introduce the concept of kitchen recycling to their customers. This has proven to be a big success, as it not only ticks the box of extending the lifespan of a kitchen but also gives their client’s some extra cash to spend on their new kitchen.
We also launched our Kitchen Passport last year which is the perfect tool to encourage both showrooms and homeowners to recycle their kitchens. Kitchen Passport enables homeowners to create a passport with every detail of their kitchen in it, so when the time comes to replace their kitchen or move on, they have everything ready to recycle it rather than send it to landfill.
kbb: How have buyers’ opinions changed over the years – has there been a noticeable shift from your perspective?
LG: There is definitely a movement in mindset from home renovators generally, as they become more conscious of doing their bit for sustainability. I think as the millennials set foot on the property ladder sustainability and saving the planet will become an even more important factor when considering materials and processes whilst buying a new kitchen.
If you're looking to sell displays or recycle your client's old kitchen please get in touch with The Used Kitchen Company on +44 020 8349 1943 or visit their website.
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