Everyone knows the kitchen is one of the most productive investments in a home, especially when it comes to resale value. Steve Feldman wants to potentially increase that ROI by changing the way you think about kitchen renovations. As the founder and CEO of Green Demolitions and Kitchen Trader, America’s only pre-owned kitchen supplier, the former radio exec aspires to assist in kitchen makeovers in an environmentally friendly way. “A lot of people look at a kitchen and see one long piece of furniture and wonder how it can fit in someone else’s house. But when you take it apart, the kitchen is a jigsaw puzzle that could fit in someone else’s space,” Feldman said.
The idea is simple: Green Demolitions deconstructs kitchens and sells the pieces in their New Jersey showroom or online. The original homeowner can either be paid for the materials or accept a tax credit (Feldman evaluates each project on a case-by-case basis). Higher end kitchens, like those belonging to actress Edie Falco or former New York Giant wide receiver Amani Toomer, are available through Feldman’s offshoot Renovation Angel program, which sells the packaged kitchens, appliances and all, and donates profits to charities. Kitchen Trader, his newest venture, is a luxury pre-owned kitchen matchmaker that links sellers of high-end kitchens with buyers.
Going Feldman’s route can require more time and energy than a traditional renovation because the pieces need to be retrofitted to an existing floor plan, but Feldman feels the money saved—not to mention the positive effect on the environment—is worth the effort. “You’re going to save at least 50 percent and up to 90 percent on a kitchen,” he said. “But a lot of our customers are motivated because the process is environmentally sound.”
Feldman dreamt up the plan while fundraising for a variety of non-profits. He was driving passed the former Greenwich residence of Empress Farah Pahlavi of Iran when a “Demolition in Progress” sign in the driveway got him thinking: Instead of asking for donors to support the outreach programs, what if he instead earned money by providing white-glove demolition work and sold those gently-used goods for profits he could donate?
He ran the pilot program for four years before launching Green Demolitions in 2005. “The timing was great because there were a lot of houses—almost 200 in 2005—being demolished in Greenwich,” Feldman said. He currently receives between 20 and 25 requests per week from homeowners, but has to reject about half because the kitchens aren’t valued high enough to cover the cost of labor.
Feldman said the company’s goals are ultimately four-fold: Recycle kitchens and cut down on landfill fodder, generate employment (they’ve created 30 jobs so far), provide clients with an option for affordable building materials and pledge any additional income to charity. For Feldman, the fourth goal stems from his personal history. “I’m a recovered addict, 25 years,” he said. “I consider myself a recycled person and I wanted to fund the programs that helped me and that would give other people the same opportunity.”