Published on March 30, 2020

It’s hard to resist the allure of a good trade. For collectors, especially—of coins, stamps, Pokémon cards, and the like—it can mean securing a find you’ve long sought after and spreading the love by parting with an object you no longer need. But even if you’re not focused on curating your own specific horde (you’ve likely long given up on Beanie Babies), you can still get in on the fun of bartering. Why not start with your dinnerware?

That is precisely what East Fork is suggesting, with the recent launch of its new buy-sell-trade Instagram account, East Fork Flea. Here’s how it works: You take a photo of an East Fork item you own (a mug, a cereal bowl, etc.). You submit that along with details of its condition, and share whether you would like to sell it or trade it for another specific item or if you’re open to a range of different trades. The brand gives you advice on pricing and shipping, and posts your listing. Then you just wait for the comments to roll in. (Posts are temporarily on hold, but you can still submit your listings so they’re ready to go when they reopen.)

The idea came about when founder Connie Matisse and director of customer experience Savannah Devore started getting an influx of messages asking about retired glazes and collections. They began thinking about how they could help facilitate a greater sense of community amid their followers, and when they saw customers arranging trades on their own, they knew the idea had legs.

Hands holding East Fork platePin It
Courtesy of East Fork

“Someone had recently commented on a photo of our Sunday Morning mug, saying that they missed their chance to get it—the launch was on their calendar, but they had chemotherapy. Out of nowhere, another person messaged us and said, ‘I want to send that person a mug—I have two, but I really only need one,’” says Devore. “The desire to share came about so organically.”

Admittedly, plates and bowls are not what you’d typically think of trading. But, as Devore notes, while there are plenty of East Fork customers who splurge on a full set of dinnerware, there’s an increasing number of consumers who are piecing their collection together bit by bit—a move that’s understandable from both a financial and style perspective.

In a way, the buy-sell-trade account has become the 21st-century version of the Tupperware party: Everyone gets to walk away with something they wanted—or something they had no idea they even needed. And in the process, they might just form a few friendships (or at least have a few heartwarming exchanges). It’s not about rushing to complete your dinner set or stocking up on a glaze color for fear it will be discontinued—it’s a celebration of what can happen with a little patience and a strong sense of community.

“Everyone has plenty of things. You probably have a mug for your coffee and a plate that’s going to be just fine,” says Matisse. “If you don’t get something this time around, there will surely be something beautiful for you in your future.”

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