Consignment shops on the road to simplifying your home
A setting at Still Life Home Consignment.
(Photo by Linda Myers-Tierney)
My January 26 article on simplifying your home caused a number of readers to tell me it was motivating. However, I haven’t yet heard of any run on the transfer station and swap shed. Perhaps you are still working out what items you might try to monetize first. Nothing like a suggestion to give it away for free to help crystallize your views on what you think is valuable! If you came up with a list of things you wouldn’t mind parting with that you think others would buy, this article on nearby consignment shops is for you. And if you are ever interested in buying interesting furniture, décor and collectibles, this article is for you too. A Google search for consignment shops is all you need to provide ample options. Today’s article however focuses on three that each have some distinctions that make them interesting options for both buying and selling.
Still Life Home Consignment
This shop has been open about ten years and occupies a full floor in a 10,000 square foot historic mill building. It offers a full assortment of furniture, décor, table/kitchenware, as well as clothing. The owner, Bill, invites you to make an appointment to bring in small items for consideration or email photos of larger items like furnishings. If they are interested, they offer a 60-day contract with a 25% markdown at 30 days, and you get 50% of the sale price if it sells in that period. They say they price the items to sell within the 60-day period, with 75-80% seeing a sale. If it doesn’t sell, you can pick it up within seven days from the expiration date or leave it to be donated. Their website shows some of the large and featured items for sale which increases the exposure of those pieces beyond just foot traffic in the shop. Presumably someone looking for certain pieces as well as stagers and designers frequently view the website. It is also cool that they offer consigners a way to follow the status of their items via password-protected access to the consigner’s web portal. This is particularly useful if you have multiple items and want to keep track of your sales and contract expiration dates.
Bill told me what sells best is the unique and special, particularly bureaus, bookcases and good label clothing. The condition is the most important factor, especially when there is fabric/upholstery. They take nothing torn, worn, stained or smelly. Bill says to prospective consigners “‘would you buy it?’ and if people are honest with themselves they will have no problem moving their things.” If people are selling after living in their home for decades, he points out some things that they might not realize are not very marketable: large entertainment centers, large hutches and collectibles. He cautions that people don’t entertain like they used to and don’t gravitate to beautiful china that cannot go into the dishwasher and microwave. He advises people “there’s also not much market today for collectibles like Hummel figurines and Beanie Babies. If you have the room, you might as well box them up and hold on to them, as the market may turn around some day.” On the brighter side, “fur coats are back, and we sell a lot of them,” Bill encourages.
Bill reflects that there are two general types of consigners. The first are downsizers whose kids don’t want their stuff, yet they often think their well-made things should command good prices. Sometimes they need to be reminded that the sentimental value of their things isn’t reflected in price tags. One of the staff there counsels consigners that “you’ve had it, you’ve enjoyed it, now it’s time to just move on.”
The second type of consigners are serial consigners who consign every month. They pick up free and low cost things helping friends clean out, at yard sales, at the side of the road etc. They enjoy both the finding and selling aspects of dealing, and they are part of the underground economy. Bill estimates he has 20-30 consigners who actually do this regularly. “You have to have a good eye though, and know what is marketable – whether it is fine quality or quirky or otherwise unique.” He cautions that people need to be discerning with what they pick up to try to sell however, because “even free is too much sometimes.”
When planning a visit to this mill building, it might be useful to know that the first floor houses Still Life, while the lower level and top floor are decorating shops with high quality home décor fabrics and accessories. Once you have cleaned out your extraneous stuff, you can come back and buy fabric for upholstery, toss pillow and accessories.
Still Life Home Consignment
68 Tower Street, Hudson, MA.
Great Road Vintage
A vignette from Great Road Vintage.
(Photo by Linda Myers-Tierney
Until November this shop was known as The Artful Home. Owners Steve Genova and wife Fumio say they revamped the shop then, changed the name, upgraded merchandise quality, revved up their social media outreach, and it has made a huge difference. Steve describes it as a multi-dealer antiques, vintage and consignment shop with a unique collection of home décor, paintings, jewelry and consignment furniture featuring one-of-a-kind treasures.
Steve explains that a lot of people are relocating here and since the relaunch of the shop, they see a much bigger mix of clientele including home owners, stagers and designers. The commonality however is that everyone wants something unique. Increased social media in MA, NH, and RI have brought in more buyers and sellers alike. By cleaning out and freshening the vignettes they create, they enable buyers a shortcut to imagining how items can be styled in their own homes, as well as offering sellers a preview of how their things will be displayed. This business revitalization has enabled them to be more selective in the consignments they accept, rejecting more than they take.
Steve and Fumio are both artists; they select what they like for the shop, and others seem to like it too. Since the inventory changes every day, Steve says some customers visit the shop two or three times a week. The day we spoke, they had just received a dining set, a rocking chair and a bench. Two had already sold and the third had a prospective customer thinking about it.
To have your items be considered for consignment, email photos and descriptions to firstname.lastname@example.org and if they are interested, they’ll invite you to make an appointment to meet and determine pricing. Contracts are for 90 days, a 20% markdown occurs at 30 days, and you get 50% of the sale price. Steve feels most things sell in 30-45 days, with perhaps one-third selling in the first weekend. He can provide you the name of a man with a truck who can transport large pieces for $50 an hour, and Steve himself offers to help people load things into their cars. What I feel is most unique about the store is the open, light space and the groupings or vignettes that are often quite appealing. Steve says the shop specializes in the unique, including shabby chic, and rustic garden décor like garden tables, birdbaths and urns. A vinyl records dealer has just joined the shop so opportunities to buy or sell vinyls are now available.
Steve advises prospective consigners “the reality of the antique world has changed a lot since older people bought. They won’t get what they paid. I advise them to first look around and do your research at other shops to see what is reasonable pricing.” Steve’s advice to prospective buyers: “we price to sell, so I advise people not to wait if they are interested in buying an item. Things are one-of-a-kind so they may not be here next time. Other people are actively seeking and finding, so if you are interested, don’t wait. Buy it today.”
Great Road Vintage
276 Great Road, Acton, MA
A New Leaf: redesigned and consigned home furnishings
The eclectic on view at A New Leaf. (Photo by Linda Myers-Tierney)
You may have noticed this West Concord shop opened in the last couple of years in two buildings, one on either side of the street, adjacent to the train tracks. The small shop is brimming with polished items in small vignettes: vintage furniture, wall art, china, crystal. The warehouse across the street is packed with large pieces, some in the process of being refinished, and is also the home of the owner’s refinishing shop.
What is unique about this shop is that it upcycles a lot of furniture, as an employee said “turning the worthless into amazing.” The owner, Meg Gaudette, is an artist and graduate of Mass College of Art who not only does a lot of painting and distressing, but also reuses a lot of salvage wood and reconstructs pieces in transformative ways. A recent example is a bureau that she restructured and painted, resulting in an entryway bench with storage included. She also makes a lot of pallet woodwork art resulting in wall hangings and tables. It is now charmingly decorated with seasonal Valentine’s Day arrangements and window displays. There is also plenty of traditional furniture, mid-century modern, antiques, lamps and mirrors.
The eclectic on view at A New Leaf.
(Photo by Linda Myers-Tierney)
Meg’s shop sells both her own redesigned pieces and consignment items and she describes her things as nice, useful and unique pieces that are often perfect for young people with their first jobs and first apartments. Her customers are often aware of using vintage pieces that have a story, a past. The CCHS class of Rivers and Revolutions which studies local history and culture has visited downtown West Concord to see live examples of small entrepreneurship, smart growth, farm to table and organic food, and repurposing. When the students visited A New Leaf, they loved the green aspect of repurposing, and they even chipped in to buy a coffee table for their classroom. Meg found their environmental consciousness and the good questions they asked to be very uplifting. They too were inspired by hearing how she helps people compelled to clean out a place quickly by sometimes accepting useful household items and building salvage materials. I particularly loved her example of using old organ pipes from a Concord church and transforming them into coat trees.
Meg loves being creative. You can see it in everything from the old wooden tennis racquets she has turned into mirrors hanging on the wall to old golf clubs repurposed into walking canes. Her advice for consigners is to make an appointment so they can be ready for you. She offers 60 day contracts with 20% markdowns at 30 days and gives 40% of the sale price. She advises “Be flexible about the price: take out the sentimental value, set aside the personal attachments, and recognize your pieces are not in style anymore.”
A New Leaf
75 Commonwealth Avenue
West Concord, MA
How to get moving
There are two key hurdles to simplifying your house: emotional and physical. The emotional is no small aspect, and all I can really say is just keep at it if you want to simplify. Read inspiring books on the subject (ask a librarian or just Google them). If you haven’t already read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, do so. Even though the author is obsessed to the point of silliness many times, I challenge you to read it without finding some helpful and practical ideas. Recognize that everyone —from your friends to the experts—will tell you that (sadly) you won’t be able to get what you want for your things. Once you resign yourself to that, you can get on with it.
Also try some systematic approach, like every Tuesday evening clean out a different room or area of your house. Or visit at least once a week (online or in person) places that sell stuff like yours so you can research comparable prices. Keeping some momentum is important, so make a list of what needs to be done and keep crossing things off and adding things to it. The crossed off items will help you see what progress you are making even when it seems a formidable journey. And just keep visualizing how light and free moving ahead feels.
The second hurdle is physical. Though there are plenty of consignment shops, these are three local examples that are busy, clean and fresh, where the proprietors and staff are friendly and helpful, and where I have (and probably you have) had friends buy and sell things and be treated well. And these shops have recommendations for people with trucks you can hire to come and transport your big things.
Some people have areas in their house where no one can walk. Don’t despair: you are not alone. Get a friend or relative to help you or hire a kid to help. It makes the work easier and keeps your spirits up in what can be challenging moments. Try an experiment of sending better items to consignment shops. In 60/90 days or earlier you will know how that experiment went and if they can’t sell your things, then perhaps no one can, and you can choose to keep trying to consign or to give it away—it’s all up to you, and only you will know the best solution for your situation. If this is really something you want to do, just keep researching, learning and experimenting —and just keep moving forward.
My next article in this series will report on those who have made a successful go of decluttering, rightsizing their homes and kicking off new and improved chapters of their lives. If you want to tell me and others your best tips on how you did any of it and how it helped you reach your goals, please email me at email@example.com with my name in the subject line.
Editor’s note: Don’t forget Tables to Teapots in West Acton, owned by a Carlislean. 1-617-312-2770, tablestoteapots.com. ∆