Otherwise titled: Furniture Consignment is Cut Throat
OK, guys. The deed is done. My dining room set is waiting for a new owner and my garage can accommodate an actual vehicle!
Getting to that point, however, was quite an adventure and I walked away with some great tips.
As I mentioned before I had made a 10:00 am appointment to bring the dining set to the store on Saturday knowing that I had to make two trips with my CR-V.
Gear helped me load up the table, legs (separated), and leaves first. The most difficult part was the actual table – she was very heavy and I was in full type-A mode out of fear that we would somehow cause an irreversible scratch or nick that would deem her non consign-able. Luckily we got her in the car without any additional damage (the set is over 20 years old so she has some existing blemishes that in my opinion give her … character? We’ll go with that).
Gear had to head off and brew some beer (more on that later) so I knew the initial unloading and entire 2nd trip would be done solo. The store was only 10 minutes from our house so I got there a few minutes and met the owner, Annette.
The best way I can describe Annette: she ‘s a no-nonsense business woman who has vigorously grabbed life by the horns and doesn’t put up with any bull crap. Right away she instructed me to go back to my car and bring in my pieces. I must have given her a doe eyed stare because she instantly understood that I had no one to help me lift the table. After a solid lecture about the inconvenience of not coming prepared she came outside to be my counterpart. Another thing I learned about Annette – she was STRONG. I don’t think I actually did anything other than appear to be lifting my end of the table but she didn’t say a word.
With the top safely in the store, Annette went right to business drilling her staff as to what pieces needed to move to accommodate my consignment. Moments later, I was shown my spot and it was the pent house of placement! It was cradled right by the entry way to the store and would be the first piece customers would see as they walked in. It also had incredible natural light and was clutter free. Cha-Ching!
I went to work re-assembling the set and yelled to Annette that I’d be back with the chairs. She was somewhere in her store and I had already eaten up an hour of my day so moved past formal conversing.
11:00 am: I drove home, loaded up the four side chairs and discovered that I could not physically fit my two head chairs in my car. I also immediately realized that I could have fit chairs on top of my table on the first transport had I really thought it out.
Trip two was a little quicker and much sweatier. Thankfully I had been fully prepared for the 87 degree day and had dressed in shorts, a tank top, sneakers and had my hair in a bun. I unloaded the chairs, set them up around the table (with Annette’s help) and told her I would be RIGHT back with the last two. “20 minutes tops” were my exact words. This was now 11:30 am.
I drove back home, loaded up the last pieces, peed, and double checked that I hadn’t forgotten anything. I have this weird habit of timing myself randomly and was pumped that I had made it back to Annette in my promised 20 minutes. I took my time unloading the chairs and before bringing them inside decided to wipe down the cushions to get rid of an overwhelming amount cat hair – these were the chairs Mulder and Scully loved to lounge on.
I brought in the first chair and my face dropped. Where was my table and what the hell was this leather bar and stool set doing in its place?? I left the chair where it was and sought out Annette who, without even looking up from her paperwork, told me that someone had brought in the bar and she thought it would sell faster than my table. My baby had been pushed aside.
I wish I could have gone all Patrick Swayze on her and declared “Nobody puts baby in a corner” but “So…where is the dining set? I have the extra chairs” was all I could muster. Maybe if I had been wearing his iconic black leather jacket I could have pulled it off…
She pointed to a dim-lit corner where a separate room was now housing my set. Talk about cut throat. Annette finally looked up and gave me a shrug as if to say “It’s not personal, its business” before helping me bring over the remaining chairs and discuss pricing.
She asked where it came from, what brand, how much it was, were the chairs purchased separately or together, and how much was I hoping to get. Luckily I had come prepared: I inherited it from my parents, the brand was Thomasville, it was purchased together, they paid just over $2,000, and I was hoping to sell it for $600. I was relieved that Annette had no problems with any of my information and we quickly agreed on a price that would be split evenly once it sold.
After I was added into the database and signed my contract, Annette explained that the piece would be for sale at our agreed price for 60 days before being marked down. After another 60 days she and I would talk about next steps. I praised Annette for her philosophy of not asking the consigner to take back their furniture if it didn’t sell. This had been my biggest fear while researching shops and I was happy to have found one that didn’t adhere to that option.
When all was said and done the set was for sale, Annette had moved on to another client, and I had no time for ugly crying. I had been too busy working out the logistics in Annette’s office before walked back to my car to head home. It was now 12:40 pm.
I am sure you may have been able to figure out what tips I walked away with but here they are. Nothing earth shattering but lessons well learned:
Tip 1: Bring a Buddy. I wish I had enlisted Gear’s help for the entire exchange because I ended up needing the owners help in moving my furniture and was sternly lectured (it sounded rehearsed so I am sure she has done this before).
Tip 2: Transportation is Key. If you are able to rent a truck or borrow a pick-up from a friend/family that will make furniture consignment ten times smoother. My car is a good size and can hold a decent amount, but it made for many back and forth’s to the house to get everything I needed from point A to point B.
Tip 3: Map out your Move. This goes in tandem with Tip #2. If I had taken a minute to see what I could have stored on top of my table I would have been done in two trips versus the three it took.
Tip 4: Details, Details, Details. Arrive at your appointment fully prepared. The more information you can give will likely result in a higher selling price because the store won’t have to guess at what its worth. Inherited the piece? Ask the past owner for the details. Bought it at a flea market? Google will be your best friend! Speaking of flea market…
Tip 5: Consigning is NOT a Flea Market. This may be more applicable to you as a buyer, but what I learned from most of my consigning experiences, and from Annette that day, is that shop owners don’t appreciate haggling. They are very knowledgeable about the brands they sell and so the price you see on the tag in the store is there for a reason. There are certainly mark downs depending on how long a piece has been in the store, but don’t expect to come in and want an immediate price reduction because of a scratch, it’s age, etc.
Tip 6: Do your Homework. I had been in touch with Annette prior to making my appointment to consign and was able to get information that may have been deal breakers for me as a consigner. Also, looking at reviews of your potential partners is a great way to weed out stores that may not be the right fit for your item(s).
Tip 7: Set Realistic Time Expectations. This was my first furniture consignment and I wish I had mentally prepped for my entire morning to be taken up. I had made other plans that day that got pushed around because I hadn’t finished up with Annette as early as I had anticipated.
Do you have any tips/tricks to consigning that you want to share? I would love to hear them!
In the meantime, I have my fingers crossed that the she sells within the month so I can do something REALLY exciting with my share: pay down my credit card. Not the most glamorous use of extra income but definitely necessary.