This article originally appeared in the August 2013 issue.
By Joshua Gabrielson
Joshua Gabrielson is a church furniture consultant.
I get a lot of people who contact me through my website asking about what something should cost online in the used church furniture market. I see tons of places like Craigslist that offer church pews, but they are way over-priced, so I’m going to give you the breakdown on what you should expect to pay for something used.
Church pews that are used will generally be 20+ years old with some wear and tear on them. I often see churches trying to sell a single church pew for literally $400 each. Divide that by 12 feet, and that’s $33 per square foot. Now that’s painful!!
The going rate for a used church pew with padding, book rack and communion cup holder is only $50. Yup, just $50. If you paid more than $50 for a church pew, then you got ripped off. Sure, there are exceptions to the rule, but on average, $50 is about what you will get.
Generally, you will overpay if the person selling them tries to give you a sob story about how much they cost and how great they are. The true heart of the matter is whether they were custom built for that church with the stain and fabric they wanted, not necessarily what you’re wanting in your start-up church. Just because they paid an arm and a leg for them new doesn’t mean you’re going to over-pay for them used.
If you have a name-brand church chair, then you’re in luck. Generally speaking, a fully loaded used church chair can get about $18 average per chair. I often see people trying to sell them for $25-$30 each, which honestly is about the cost of a new chair. Old church chair values, custom or not, used is used. The more custom an item is, the harder it will be to resell it.
If you’re looking for a no-name-brand chair or a chair less and 21″ wide, then expect to buy those styles of chair for about $14 each. With the average cost of a new chair running about $37.99 these days, you can still recoup about 40% of the total value of the chairs. Warranties generally do not carry over with the new owner if there is any warranty left over.
Used wooden pulpits can vary in cost depending on the style, size, etc. From my research over the last several years, a wood pulpit that cost $1,000 new will generally fetch about $200-250 on the used market today.
Acrylics tend to hold value more if they are in really great shape, and metal pulpits are so new that finding on the used market is a true catch. Remember that the used market is going to get new start-up churches on a budget for the most part, so don’t expect to make a ton of money selling your used church furniture.
Places online are good things, but if you’re in the market, then the people selling you their items should clearly know the market values of items. Depending on where you are at in the United States, costs may slightly vary but not by much.
For example, in the Bible Belt states, church pews (12ft) will fetch about $75 each, but the overall national average is $50. If a church doesn’t budge on a price, then you can simply refer them to this article or have them research the used church furniture prices themselves.
To recap, here is the breakdown of what you should expect to pay for used church furniture:
* Church pews national average for a 12 foot pew is just $50
* Name brand 21″ church chairs go for about $18 each
* No name brand or chairs under 21″ go for about $14 each
* Wooden church pulpits fetch about $225 each.
* Acrylic pulpits resell for about 65% of their value
* Pastors/Ministers chair sell for about $100-$150 each used
* Communion Tables go for about $75-$100 on the used market
* Water and Flower tables generally run about $40 each used
* A used portable baptistry will run about $600 if you can find one used