The West Elm sideboard, once backordered and lovingly placed in a dining room, now takes up residence alongside discarded Chinese take-out boxes and balled-up paper towels. The Pottery Barn desk that was the focal point of a home office is splattered in week-old spaghetti. CB2, Article, Ethan Allen—it all dots the sea of cast-offs otherwise known as a landfill.
Believe it or not, furniture is the largest waste category in America. On top of that, there’s virtually no way to recycle furniture in our country. If you’re eco-minded, it may surprise you to know that the living room furniture you donated could be currently adding to a giant landfill.
One effective solution to these woes is Kaiyo, an online marketplace devoted to pre-loved, high-quality furniture hailing from designer brands like Crate & Barrel, Herman Miller, and Restoration Hardware. You can seamlessly sell furniture on the website or snatch up finds at a fraction of the original cost.
“Kaiyo picks up, cleans, photographs, and delivers all products sold on the platform, offering a simpler and more streamlined process for both the buyer and seller,” says Alpay Koralturk, Founder & CEO of Kaiyo. “Everything is priced intelligently using our algorithm and discounted automatically over time, so you can get incredible savings on your favorite brands while also making an environmentally-friendly choice.”
With a background in finance and data analysis, Alpay explains that when he got married in 2014, he and his wife wanted to furnish their new apartment, making it his seventh move in New York City. “I was very familiar with the hassle of buying and selling furniture,” he says. He and his wife have always been passionate about sustainability, so they tried to buy secondhand pieces.
“It was such a frustrating experience that I thought there needed to be an easier way—something that was convenient for the customer but ultimately better for the planet,” he says.
That’s when he launched his company Furnishare in 2015, which first centered on furniture rentals and evolved into an online marketplace.
“We identified customer pain points and tweaked our business to meet their needs. We relaunched as Kaiyo in February of 2019,” Alpay says.
The majority of Kaiyo’s customers are under 35. “Millennials are known for being socially aware and discerning with their dollars, and we believe that’s why they’ve been so open to secondhand furniture,” Alpay observes. “They’re looking to access reliable brands like West Elm, Room & Board, and Design Within Reach, but they’re also looking to save money.”
On the seller side, Alpay says that many customers have a sentimental attachment to their pieces and they simply want to find good homes for them and see them put to use.
Since it’s based in New York City, Kaiyo’s service area includes the Tri-State Area and the Philadelphia metropolitan area. For customers outside of the white-glove service area, they offer delivery through third-party carriers. That’s right—you won’t even need to move the furniture out of your place.
Alpay says that Kaiyo is “used heavily by those in the entertainment industry.” Movies and TV shows that have jumped onto the Kaiyo bandwagon include Uncut Gems, Brittany Runs a Marathon, Orange Is the New Black, and At Home with Amy Sedaris.
Sustainability is a huge tentpole at Kaiyo. The company is responsible for keeping over 1,590,191 pounds of furniture out of landfills and they’ve partnered with the National Forest Foundation to plant a tree for every order completed on the site.
Alpay says that discarded furniture amounts to billions of pounds in landfills each year. “The last time we checked, this amount was the equivalent of 30 Empire State Buildings in weight,” he adds.
Kaiyo’s no-headaches business model makes it easy for consumers to be eco-friendlier.
“By making it super-convenient to sell great furniture with our fast, free pickup, and allowing buyers to shop a curated collection of well-produced pieces from trusted sources, we are encouraging our customers to lessen their global footprint,” Alpay says.
Although Alpay says that while they do believe in donating furniture (on rare occasions, they donate pieces to local charities to keep them from being discarded), donating has its challenges.
“The issue with donation, on the whole, is that most charities have very limited floor space and are forced to turn down a large number of items that are brought to them,” he says.
Kaiyo has several brands that traditionally sell very well. Douglas Cody, Director of Merchandising at Kaiyo, shares that people particularly love iconic design.
“Think Herman Miller, Noguchi, Knoll, Fritz Hansen, Eames—a lot of what you’d see at Design Within Reach,” he says.
Douglas adds that they see value decrease less at a brand level and more so at a category level.
“For example,” he says, “in New York, it’s illegal to sell sofa beds with their original mattress—you have to remove it—which creates more work for the buyer and lowers their resale value overall. We also see that items with custom upholstery are less likely to retain their value.”
He adds that rugs without brand names aren’t attractive to potential buyers either. “In general, it’s harder to sell items that lack a brand name or identifying tags or marks that prove they are a specific brand,” he says.
And then there are items that have only gone up in value recently, mainly due to the pandemic.
Douglas says, “With more people spending time at home, we’ve seen increased demand for high-end office furniture from Herman Miller and Room & Board.”
Ashley Manfred, a New York City-based interior designer, has had great experiences selling for clients and for herself through Kaiyo.
“It’s not always easy to get rid of furniture in New York,” she says, “and Kaiyo makes the process so much smoother. They pick up items right away, so you don’t have to keep them in the space waiting for them to sell.”
As someone who has purchased furniture through Kaiyo, Jason Saft, Founder of Staged To Sell Home, considers the site one of his best resources to find well-priced, exceptional pieces to include in the 100 or so homes he stages each year.
“If you are looking for a brand with integrity and ethos, you should work with Kaiyo,” he says. “They are creating a better world, cutting down on waste, and making things more attainable and affordable for all.”