It’s housing season here on campus, and while distressed freshmen may be busy making protest shirts about the dorm lottery, sophomores are facing another distinct challenge: grown-up, off-campus housing.
While it may seem exciting to be finally living like a real person (and, trust me, it is!) there comes a time of dawning realization as to just what “like a real person” entails.
Choosing where to live is its own adventure, but when it comes to furnishing your brand new apartment or row home look no further than Baltimore’s Second Chance Inc. This secondhand shop is located in Baltimore’s Pigtown neighborhood, just up the street from M&T Bank Stadium.
Second Chance is unique because the pieces of furniture, art and home decor aren’t the only thing that the business gives a second chance to: Through its programs in “workforce development,” it trains and employs those who would otherwise face barriers to employment, including former convicts.
The folks at Second Chance want to help their community, and this goes beyond just being able to provide job skills.
They create “green collar jobs,” careers that focus on reclaiming and reusing materials from sites that may otherwise be sent to dumps or bulldozed. In 2017 alone, they have diverted almost three million pounds of landfill waste.
Of course, Second Chance functions as more than just a community service project. It also has tons of delightfully quirky furniture pieces, memorabilia, and downright strange things for fantastic prices. Pick up a sturdy desk (or 20!) for as little as $15, or peruse their selection of splatter-painted dining tables and chairs.
If you want to make sure your space screams “you,” consider buying a painting or vintage poster.
The last time I went I also managed to spend several minutes inspecting what I later found out was the top of a huge ventilation shaft, but it definitely could’ve made a sweet fire pit base or rainy day outdoor jacuzzi cover.
Second Chance also provides the opportunity to volunteer in an unorthodox setting for both individuals and groups. There are tons of different jobs to be done: everything from taking the nails out of roof tops to doing photo, videography or data entry.
Whether you visit Second Chance to volunteer or just browse their collections, perhaps the most invaluable experience comes from being able to talk to the people who work there. The workers are usually wonderful people with fascinating stories, and it’s great that Second Chance provides them employment opportunities.
And therein lies the beauty of all things secondhand: the stories that come with their previous lives.
The reason that thrifting is so often painted as charming is that it genuinely is.
Getting to Second Chance is a bit of a hike: If you’re going there just to check it out and not buy, one option is an MTA bus.
The most straightforward option is taking the 27 Route from Remington Avenue and Wyman Park Drive (aka the street at the south end of campus) until the stop at Russell Street and Bush Street, which is nearly in sight of the warehouse — just walk straight down Bush street, and there it is.
This trip takes a little under 40 minutes in all, so if you want to cut that travel time in half, an Uber is definitely the way to go and should cost no more than $10 — take a couple friends and you’ll spend the same as you would on bus fares.
While it may be less convenient than simply picking up a couch from a friend or buying a bed off a graduating student, the pieces (and people!) you’ll find at Second Chance are guaranteed to be unique and to come from an organization that will benefit the Baltimore area long after you’ve left Charles Village.