Over the past 40 years, I’ve been privileged to be taken along to different locations by my Long Island clients who have purchased second homes where I’ve helped them make those places “a home away from home.” The most popular, Florida, has given me the opportunity to work and develop sources where I, too, have a second home. There’s fun shopping, you never have to worry about snow – and that’s where I was first introduced to quality consignment stores. Because the large affluent elderly population who retired there eventually expires, the generation of children who inherit furnishings that are not their taste or too large for their space, either donates the contents or sends them off to consignment stores where they are sold.
Consignment means that the store receives merchandise and sells it on behalf of the owner, sharing in the proceeds of the sale. The price for this “used” furniture is generally a fraction of the original, although the merchandise is often in pristine condition. I have been able to find some wonderful pieces for my clients and have developed “favorite haunts.” (I often get calls when the “really good” stuff arrives.) The furniture doesn’t last very long, and is marked down as the time grows longer. But waiting can cost you the piece and it’s truly “every man for himself”. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. So there’s the thrill of the find and the desire to acquire against waiting for the piece to drop in price and possibly losing the item to another savvy buyer. Ah – what fun!
Consignment shoppers are interesting and fun people. They usually do their research, know what they’re looking for and come back often. I recently opened my own consignment shop, Uniquely Natalie, in St. James, in the old Vaudeville theatre which was the former home of my design firm (we’ve now moved around the corner to Lake Avenue), and set it up with room settings and vignettes which in layman’s terms means “I’m playing house again”. Constantly rearranging to welcome new merchandise often drives my staff a little crazy – but we’re all having so much fun as new treasures arrive daily. Shoppers reaction to our efforts is always gratifying, especially now as we get ready for the holidays.
The best part is I’m shopping consignment for my own clients, as well! Saving money means we can do more. If the space plan is right and beautiful items that were once beyond the client’s financial reach are now available, it’s a win for everyone. Because I’m also fortunate to have new consigned merchandise from valued sources, I can usually stretch the budget and not compromise quality or style – and the delivery is now. What could be better?
When once people bragged about their expensive furniture, today it’s how great everything looks with those special bargains. So join the fun and add consignment store shopping to your list when re-doing your home. Maybe your “oldies but goodies” can bring you some money as they find a new owner, as well.
Tip: To those who love to refinish and re-upholster, your greatest treasure can be hidden under a bad coat of paint or torn fabric in a consignment shop, and for vintage collectors – consignment stores are a treasure trove of goodies.