University of Minnesota vintage chairs shine at auction 50 years later

The University of Minnesota is embracing the saying "what’s old is new" with a unique auction underway right now. Vintage furniture used on campus for more than 50 years is up for sale.

The ReUse warehouse filled up on Friday with an array of items formerly in use on the University of Minnesota campus.

Books, computer monitors, and a scale probably once used by pro wrestler Brock Lesnar are all on sale twice a week as part of a program that diverts almost 1 million pounds of material from landfills every year.

Not everything holds much value, but Todd Tanner spotted spoils in a delivery last week.

"Every once in a while we get something like this that's just iconic and absolutely gorgeous, eclectic, sought after," said Todd Tanner, a zero waste programmer with the University of Minnesota's ReUse program. "You know, these are artistic at this point in time, and they're collector's items."

The Herman Miller chairs sat in Snyder Hall for five decades, but they look barely used.

Similar seats sell for $900 and up online, so when ReUse posted them on Facebook, the first chance to buy some at $500 drew a crowd.

"We had a queue of people here almost two hours early to look at and to start purchasing the chairs on Saturday," Tanner said. "It was a very, very big response."

They sold seven chairs and put 10 more up for auction, alongside a Herman Miller table.

"It's an amazing collection," said Alex Hernandez.

Hernandez makes vintage style furniture for his business at Danish Teak Classics, and he was excited to see the chairs for sale. He says the olive color is back in fashion, and these seats from 1972 were built to last, so he’s not surprised they’re in demand.

"Good design is always going to be popular," Hernandez said. "I think quality furniture is always going to be popular."

Money from the sales here gets reinvested in the university.

The chair auction ends Monday, but here’s a scoop: they still have a couple available that aren’t in the auction, so you can come buy them Saturday.