At consignment stores like Dulce, budding style mavens can discover gently-used accessories at bargain prices
The current financial situation has many of us bending down to pick up pennies in the parking lot and ordering "water with lemon" on the rare occasions when go out to restaurants for the early-bird, buy-one-get-one special. But that doesn’t mean we’ve all lost our sense of style and the inherent desire for something new. (As I always say when it comes time for the Scouts or nuns or three-legged goat children to pick up donations for their canned food drive, just because the recipients are needy doesn’t mean they don’t have taste buds. Opt for a nice hearty soup over the five-year-old can of sauerkraut that’s been gathering dust on your pantry shelf.)
For those of us who are a little poorer this year than normal, or even for those who are riding this whole recession like a harmless kiddie ride in front of Wal-Mart, we can all praise that little one-stop shop where you can not only feed your redecorating needs but actually make a little extra money for more important things like, say, something to eat besides fermented cabbage in a can.
Ladies and lady-like gentlemen, welcome to the joys of consignment shopping (or selling) for the home.
Simon Veeren and Jorge Fernandez, owners of Dulce Interior Consignment Showplace on Oak Lawn Avenue, are seeing an increase in both buyers looking to get more banquette for their buck and consignors seeking out ways to bring in extra cash.
For people in the market for furniture, accessories and art, many of which are one-of-a-kind, a consignment store can be a bargain-hunter’s dream come true. Items aren’t necessarily inexpensive, but for the quality of the "gently owned" merchandise, the savings can be significant. In many cases, Fernandez says, customers can purchase items at 50 percent or more off regular retail.
"We carry an eclectic variety of items: antiques, mid-century modern, vintage and contemporary pieces, all carefully selected," Fernandez says. And you will definitely find items that aren’t going to be on the floor at any of the big chain furniture stores.
Among the most unusual? "A sculpture made of nails welded together," he says. "Also a decapitated sculpture of a man on his knees with his hands back, in handcuffs, which is still available."
But if headless S&M objets d’art aren’t your cup of tea, there are plenty of classic treasures to be found on consignment, especially if you’re looking to find pieces from specific decades. Every time I walk into a place like Dulce, I have fantasies of redoing everything in ’60s mod because they always have so many great chairs, tables and those really cool standing ashtrays that make me actually consider taking up smoking. Then something else catches my eye and it’s off to another section of the store, new vices to dream about.
If you find yourself on the other side of the consignment equation, then it’s important to research stores before giving them your merchandise. Most operations, like Dulce, keep half of the sale price. But there are others who take more, so do your homework. Fernandez also advises never to do business with a consignment place that won’t issue a written agreement detailing everything regarding the transaction of merchandise and money.
At Dulce, they’re very selective about the merchandise they carry and consignors go through a process very similar to online dating. (Ottomanhunt.net anyone?)
"First thing is to send us a picture of the item with a description; especially if it is a large item," Fernandez says. "With the picture we will be able to determine if we have the right market for it. It is very important the pieces are cleaned, have no stains or pet hair," he adds.
If your furniture makes a love-seat connection, it’s put on the showroom floor for three months. Prices are discounted after the first month in a more aggressive attempt to move the merchandise, so the more unique or sought-after your items, the more likely you’ll be able to get them sold in the first month.
To be sure, the cash isn’t as immediate as throwing an item out on your front lawn for a quickie yard sale, but the payoff will most certainly be bigger if you have the time and patience to display your furnishings at a consignment store.
The only trick is not walking out with something different once you pick up your check. But that’s the circle of life in the consignment world. Two things out, three things back in.
Dulce Interior Consignment Showplace, 2914 Oak Lawn Ave. 214-219-5656.
This article appeared in Dallas Voice’s print edition of Great Spaces magazine April 17, 2009.