Shopping is a favorite pastime for many of us. Looking through racks of clothing, aisles of home décor or even scouring the streets on Saturday mornings searching for amazing yard sale finds can become a fun adventure and a great way to spend time with a friend. Finding an amazing deal satisfies our primal “hunter/gatherer” instincts that drive us to search for the best our hard-earned money can buy.In the drive to look for bargains, one type of store that should not be overlooked is consignment. Consignment means that the person looking to sell an item can place that item into the care of a professional to correctly price and sell that item. After the item has sold then the professional and the original owner of the item split the money according to agreed upon percentages.
This generally works out well for both buyers as well as sellers for several reasons. One great reason it works well for buyers is that they can often get a much better deal on an item that they would not otherwise be able to find. For instance, buying a brand-new designer lamp could cost upwards of $75-$120. Buying the same designer lamp at a consignment store would only cost the buyer around $30-$40 for the lamp. Most consignment stores will only offer to sell items that have been gently used.
Another great reason for buying consignment is the satisfaction of finding items that are no longer manufactured. From clothing to home décor and kitchenware, no item is manufactured in the same style forever. So, if you are looking for a set of dishes, a lamp or a teapot that is no longer made, secondhand stores are great hunting grounds.
Looking for true vintage furniture can prove to be difficult, especially if you are looking to load your current home design with the very popular Mid-Century modern look. Purchasing a retro-designed piece might satisfy your desire, but if you are a purist at heart then consignment stores could prove to be your gold mine. With many people downsizing, moving or simply clearing out space in their homes, furniture that has been hiding in attics could find its way to a consignment store near you.
However, not all consignment stores are filled with used items. Consignment simply means that a professional shop owner allows sellers to place items in a monitored environment to be sold. The types of items are chosen by the shop owner. Mosaic Consignments in Callao, owned and operated by Jane Woodle, not only offers previously owned high-end furniture and home décor, she also carries new home décor. What makes Mosaic Consignments stand out is that the store is part of the Artisan Trail, an organization that helps to encourage heritage and culture by promoting local artisans. As part of Artisan Trail, Woodle has stocked Mosaic Consignments with items that have been designed and handmade by local artists.
The items that can be found in Mosaic are vintage and handmade jewelry, hand crafted soaps, baby blankets and more. Woodle enjoys encouraging local artisans to sell their creations at her consignment shop. Woodle has always loved shopping consignment stores and owning one was a dream come true.
“I love the interaction with the customers,” says Woodle, as she also talks about her favorite reasons for shopping consignments. “When you are looking through items that have history, you can also picture a way to add it to your future. When you mix the old with the new it adds history to your home. It also becomes an automatic conversation as you tell the story of what you have found and the history behind the piece.”
Like many consignment store owners, Woodle is selective when it comes to items that are carried in her store. “Items must be high quality and in good condition. I prefer upscale pieces, and when it comes to furniture, all upholstery and finishes must be in pristine condition,” says Woodle.
The draw to consignment is not only the chance to find one-of-a-kind items, but the opportunity to get a great deal on any given item. Knowing this, Woodle keeps customers continually singing the praises of Mosaic Consignments with her pricing. “I keep things reasonably priced and that keeps people coming back to buy things for their homes as well as their vacation homes,” says Woodle.
Rivah Consignments in Kilmarnock offers an eclectic blend of clothing, furniture, jewelry, home decor and giftware, with many items displaying designer labels. “We have something for everybody,” says Norma Lumpkin, sales associate. “We feature local artists and affordable gift items in a pleasant, easy to shop environment,” she added. The store offers Rivah Angel gifts and has a children’s room complete with toys, clothes, furniture and gifts for little ones.
Consignment is a way to be both economically as well as environmentally responsible. Environmentally, consignment stores are a much more responsible way to care for the world around you. In a world where disposable items have become the norm, we throw away over 13 million tons of textiles a year. Consignment is a profitable way of recycling. Many of the items that are seen as having outlived their usability may still have a lot of life left in them.
Fran Sulick of Ultimate Interiors in Kilmarnock discusses the benefits of consignment. “When you search through items with history there is always the possibility of finding something that identifies with your past. When you bring that into your home you now have a piece of history with you every day,” says Fran.
Another benefit of consignment is that as you sell items through consignment you open up your home to change. Fran notes that as trends change and move, selling items allows others to see something new in what you no longer love. Additionally, any money that you collect from your consignment sales allows you to add to your new décor fund! If you consistently go hunting at certain stores you can form a relationship with the shop owner. As the shop owners get to know your style they begin to look for items they know you will enjoy. Many consignment stores actually offer a wish list where they take your name, number and make a note of what you are searching for. Then, if your item comes into the shop, the shop owner simply calls you.
Betty Stephans and her daughters, Andree’ and Jackie, have decorated homes from Florida to Michigan and Canada. “We always used to say, ‘You can decorate anything on a shoestring.’” Eventually the travel was too much, so Betty and her daughters opened The Velvet Shoestring, a high-end home furnishings consignment store in Williamsburg. “It’s always a challenge to decorate on a shoestring budget, but it isn’t necessary to spend a lot of money to decorate your home. I love beautiful things, but I am not willing to spend $10,000 on a dining room table. Decorating should be fun and not stressful.”
When Betty helps a client develop a decorating plan, she likes to take the time to get to know the person and their home through what is already present. She encourages her clients to be patient, selective and reach for quality. Focus on things you will love long term. “When you find something you love, you are lucky,” says Betty. “We are in a gold mine of true treasures. With so many thrift stores and second-hand shops in our area, people are constantly getting rid of fabulous pieces and you can find them easily!” Shopping consignment is a great way to decorate on a budget while unearthing a great find.
Kilmarnock Antique Gallery has 22,000 square feet of potential great finds — furniture, tall case clocks, Persian rugs and fine art. The vast gallery was voted “Best Antiques Mall in Eastern Virginia.” Hundreds of beautiful oyster plates, offered by the “Oyster Plate Lady,” are a special highlight of the store. The extensive collection is so noteworthy it earned Kilmarnock Antique Gallery a place as a designated stop on The Virginia Oyster Trail, a visitor-directed “journey of discovery” program featuring Virginia’s oyster regions.
Also, by shopping consignment, you allow yourself to get creative. With websites dedicated to Do-it-Yourselfers, ideas on how to update, upcycle or repurpose outdated items are overflowing on the Internet. Chalk paint, glazing, finishes and spray paint are simple ways to quickly add your own flair to anything, and the plans and ideas are generally so simple that many people can do them.
Deciding to consign can often be overwhelming. Some stores request that you price, ticket and log your items into their inventory while other consignment stores allow you to simply price and set up a rented space that is maintained by you but managed by the shop owner. There are also consignment stores that allow you to drop off approved items that are to be priced and controlled by the shop owner.
There is no set way that a consignment store must be run, so confusion can seem overwhelming. However, most shop owners are excited to have your business and are willing to explain their particular style of sales so that you feel relaxed and secure in allowing them to sell your items. Generally, a contract is signed and an expected date of payment is clearly listed, making it an easy and fun way to shop or sell.
So whether you are looking for something new or something that has stood the test of time, shopping consignment is a great way to look for your next favorite thing. Or, if you are looking to downsize, change décor or get top dollar for your home furnishings and home décor, selling through your local consignment shop might be a great option for you as well. Either way, from selling to buying, everyone can benefit from consignment, and living in a region steeped in historical significance, you never know what you are going to find. Happy treasure hunting!