My newest discovery: Furniture consignment stores!

A short zigzag between couches and china cabinets, bedroom suites and dining tables, and shoppers quickly recognize the deals here at Southern Comforts.

The furniture consignment store is almost hidden behind a drug store, but once found, there is a treasure to behold. And it’s not at all unusual in metro Atlanta.

“If you’ve never been to a furniture consignment store,” said Beth Richardson, owner of The Board of Trade, “you’ll see the quality and you’ll be shocked.”

Diana Marsh examines a glass bowl at The Board of Trade. Photo: Phil Skinner, AJC

Diana Marsh examines a glass bowl at The Board of Trade. Photo: Phil Skinner, AJC

Dozens of shoppers were introduced recently when they traveled by busloads on a seven-hour tour of stores. Some concentrated on clothing outlets; others on furniture stores. Each shopper paid $35 to take part in the AtlantaConsignmentStores.com event and spent 45 minutes at each location.

AtlantaConsignmentStores.com went on a bus tour of stores.

AtlantaConsignmentStores.com went on a bus tour of stores.

It was the first major event for the group of retailers who’ve joined forces to drive home the distinctions between consignment and thrift. Melissa Baxter, owner of Back by Popular Demand and Forever Young, partnered with her former employer, Bonnie Kallenberg, owner of three stores — Finders Keepers Boutique, Fashions and Furniture — to start the organization.

“Consignment, thrift, donation and pawn shops all get kind of lumped together,” Baxter said. “None of us [consignment store owners] had $10,000 to take out, but together we could make a brand. On average, only 10 percent of people know what consignment stores are.”

In general, here’s how they work: Name-brand adult and childrens’ clothing, bridal ware, high-end furniture and items in near-perfect condition are taken to the consignment store of your choice. The store decides which items it will take, sometimes turning down 50 or 60 percent of the offers. Stores require items be ready for sell. The store sets a price and the consignor gets a percentage of the selling price, which reduces by percentage each month. If it’s not sold, it can be picked up or donated.

And when it comes to furniture stores, bargains abound. They are newer to the shopping world than clothing consignments, but have experienced rapid growth, particularly since the economy turned downward. It’s not hard to see why.

“It’s a good model when you have money, and when you don’t,” Richardson said.

A Hickory Chair brand sideboard, $6,000 wholesale, is $1,995. This $1,700 leather sofa is $3,500 new.

Anita Johnson is reflected in an ornate mirror as she shopped on the consignment stores bus tour.

Anita Johnson is reflected in an ornate mirror as she shopped on the consignment stores bus tour.

“People with money are more apt to come to consignment stores than people who do not have money,” said Southern Comforts owner, Mark Eid. “They don’t have money because they are big spenders; they have money because they are good shoppers.”

The furniture may have a more classic than contemporary, but it depends on the store. While Board of Trade and Southern Comforts are more formal, Finders Keepers avoids antiques and looks for more unusual pieces. Stores complement the inventory with newer pieces they purchase.

“People who shop this way realize that you can’t always walk in and say, ‘I have to find a green armchair,’” Kallenberg said. “You have to be open-minded.”

Eid says his stores, including one opened two years ago in Alpharetta are “not a dumping ground.” It’s much more and the bus tour passengers saw that first-hand.

“It’s the tip of the iceberg with resale,” Kallenberg said. “Back in the early 80’s, there was a stigma attached to it; it was only poor people who shopped consignments. Now cool people buy used clothes and furniture.”

Follow me on Twitter @atlbargains and on Facebook at AJC Atlanta Bargain Hunter

16 comments Add your comment

BongWater Slurpee

May 20th, 2010
9:10 am

The lady in the white hat has very flabby arms. She should be exercising instead of our spending money.

Know your prices

May 20th, 2010
9:29 am

For designer clothing, know your brands and what they go for on sale at a retailer. Some consignment stores, including one mentioned in this article, charge more for used couture shoes than the end of season sale at Saks or Neimans. Consignment stores are great for furniture, antiques and decor items. The fun is the unexpected when you walk into a shop – you never know what you will find! Paying retail is out of style. Love paying what the stuff is really worth. Happy Hunting!

jrp

May 20th, 2010
9:31 am

Now BongWater, play nice today..:)

The Austrian Brotherhood

May 20th, 2010
9:40 am

Hi Bongwater Slurpee, that was my first impression too.

dt

May 20th, 2010
9:46 am

I was just thinking how nice the lady in the hat looked. BongWater get a life!

Beck

May 20th, 2010
10:22 am

Bridal ware?

BongWater Slurpee

May 20th, 2010
10:41 am

And that other lady with the man haircut…Im surprised the mirror didnt shatter to pieces.

“Mirror mirror on the wall who’s that prettiest one of all”

Mirror heard whispering…”Not you”

Haywood Jablome

May 20th, 2010
11:20 am

I’ll say! Those are some really impressive meat curtains.

Lisa T

May 20th, 2010
1:37 pm

Love consignment stores and have found some fabulous deals. But an important thing to note (and I’m surprised the story didn’t mention it) is that you have to be careful to check items for quality. You can find stained, torn, defective or ill-fitting (if clothes) items even in the best stories, so be prepared to spend some time holding things up to a good light!

Donna

May 20th, 2010
10:09 pm

Consignment shopping is fun and a great way to save money. I’ve even found clothes with the tags still on them (never worn.) It’s hard to find plus sizes in some stores but luckily I just discovered a plus-size consignment store in Decatur. It’s nice to have choices.

Nichole

May 21st, 2010
7:30 am

Just a little note… i happened to stumble on a new store out in Buford you should should check out called EVERYTHING PRETTY. They sell high end furniture and accessories. Still a very new shop the owner takes pride in the merchandise she acquires and lets guests consign, from the Custom built cabinetry and kitchen island, to the Clayton Marcus down filled chair (along with the AMAZINGLY LOW prices). You really should take time to come out and let everyone else know the great bargains you can get if they also come and check out the store! Thanks “atl bargain hunter!” in advance and hope to see you in the “bargain hunting trenches!”

BongWater Slurpee

May 21st, 2010
10:21 am

Do consignment shops sell undergarments?

Haywood Jablome

May 21st, 2010
1:15 pm

Do consignment shops sell undergarments?

There is a used arm-bra shop on the Buford Highway. Not consignment, but they have great values for garments that minimize flabby arms. They also have a good selection of back-fat support garments.

jrp

May 24th, 2010
10:30 am

She probably didn’t mention that you have to check the clothes out, because that is common sense..

Sherry

May 28th, 2010
2:13 pm

I am trying to find out how to sell a very high end sofa at an Atlanta consignment shop. I live about 50 miles south of Atlanta. The sofa is a Kreiss light beige sofa with chaise. Person who give it to me bought it for $10,000. I’m researching very carefully on how much to sell this for, which shop to use, etc. Please help if you can! Thanks

Faye

July 30th, 2010
7:28 am

Try Savy Snoot Consignment