Buying premium used: how I bought a $1200 office chair for cheap

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You will never read articles like this on a regular affiliate website (as of writing this we are not even an affiliate site yet). Why? Because I’m going to talk about buying something used, which doesn’t help me in any way. I love buying things used, especially premium items. While I also like dupes, I’m very picky about the things that are dupe worthy to me. If I needed an iPad and didn’t have the budget for a new one, I would much rather buy a used iPad for $200-300 instead of buying a Galaxy Tab or something. Which brings me to my office chair! Office chairs are something that if you google at any point, suddenly your FB/instagram will barrage you with ads for premium looking chairs. They always have a cool name, attractive people in the ads, you get the idea. But the thing is that most of these are chairs bought from AliExpress or Alibaba and repackaged for the US market. Don’t get me wrong, some items from those sites are great, the issue with me is the markup that you are paying to get them. Why would I buy a $300 dollar chair that was bought for $30 and then drop shipped to me?

There are a lot of office chairs that are sold as premium but don’t have the features that actually make it a functional chair for an office environment. Several years ago I bought one that had a really high back and was all leather; I fancied myself as some sort of executive in this thing. Turned out that the metal on the bottom by the wheels was too soft, which led to bending. This also meant that sometimes I would lean a little the wrong way and violently flip over onto the floor. I dealt with this for a few years until enough was enough.

My criteria for a new office chair was the following, bold items are generally only on more premium chairs:

  • Comfy
  • Height adjustable
  • Arm rests that can go up/down and side to side
  • Lumbar adjustment
  • Recline lock/adjustments
  • Seat depth adjustments

So all chairs are height adjustable and should be comfy, though a lot of chairs even fail the comfy test. The armrests are something that make a big difference and should be mandatory for all office chairs. If you can’t adjust your arm rests to make it so that your forearms are parallel with the floor when typing with shoulders relaxed, you’re going to have ergonomic problems. I ended up getting early carpal tunnel (definitely an oh shit I’m getting old moment). Turned out that my desk surface was too high so I was in a sorta T-Rex stance. I got super invested in fixing my ergonomic situation and had to wear wrist braces for a couple of weeks to fix the problem. Once I got my desk at the right height I changed my arm rest height to complement it. Even harder to find are armrests that can pivot and move inwards. Unless you are using a very wide keyboard your arms likely make an upside down V when typing. Being able to adjust the arm rests to accommodate this helps a lot. Having an adjustable lumbar is nice for fine tuning, and having an adjustable recline so that you don’t accidentally fall is underrated. On some chairs you can tighten the recline, so that it takes more force to recline your chair. 

In my research I checked out Wirecutter, and their top pick is the SteelCase Gesture, a chair that goes for about $1300 dollars. Upon further digging I found that their old pick was the SteelCase Leap, which seems almost just as good, with some people actually saying that it’s better. It comes in a version 1 and version 2, or V1/V2. The V2 has a more square backrest and is newer. It turns out that because the leap has been around for a long time, there are A LOT of them for sale used. I’m guessing this has to do with Covid-19, as some offices probably sold these wholesale when shutting offices down. I just checked Google and saw one for $250! Unfortunately most of the cool color options are new only, so that brings you back up to over $1000. It is worth mentioning that some of these are refurbished, as in someone fixed it and maybe even re-stuffed it. It is possible for a chair to be refurbished poorly, so do ask about this.

Still plenty of them online
Image credit: Craigslist.org

I searched Craigslist for “SteelCase” and found an office furniture supply store about 45 minutes away. I called and asked about it and verified that it was lightly used and not refurbished. The associate was an office chair fanboy and told me all about the pros and cons of different chairs and really seemed to know his stuff! It was obvious when sitting in one that it was the most comfortable office chair I sat in, I immediately was hooked. I checked all parts of it to make sure there were no rips, stains, loose threads, or anything in poor condition. I ended up with a black SteelCase V2 for $350, and somehow managed to get it loaded into my tiny sedan. This thing is a tank; I foresee having it for a long time. Also, if for some reason I move and don’t want to bring it with me, I likely could sell it myself for just a little less than I bought it for. The final thing I did was to buy some rollerblade type wheels for it: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01CTIG4GE/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

The default wheels are meant for an office carpet. Rollerblade wheels are better for hard wood. Just be careful in case your floor isn’t level as your chair will go for a walk around your room when you leave. 

In conclusion, there are some things where you want the real deal. I have no idea if where you live has a store like the one near me, but you can always check Craigslist or FB Marketplace and try and score yourself a deal. For something like this patience can be key: with popular items like this you’re always bound to see one pop up for sale sooner or later.

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