Heather Wood, Freelance Writer: articles about interior decorating & redesign, home staging & enhancement, & more
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Furnishing fun

City Different's consignment shops offer opportunity for buyers, sellers

By Heather Wood
published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
Real Estate section
Sunday, June 17, 2007

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Tired of your sofa? Ready to upgrade your dining room décor?

Maybe you're hoping to sell an antique bureau but don't know where to start. Or you'd like to replace the dresser you have but you're not ready to put down the cash for a brand new one.

You are in luck: Consignment store shopping isn't just for clothing anymore. Unique, one-of-a-kind pieces and accessories, at a good value, are what you're likely to find in Santa Fe's home furnishing consignment boutiques.

A growing "gently-used" furnishings market that began over 20 years ago in the City Different is proving to be a direct source for "new" pieces for all budgets. It's also a great way to get a good return on investment when it's time to unload quality furniture, art and accessories when you've tired of them.

All about consignment

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For those interested in purchasing an item, there usually is a 24- to 48-hour approval period where clients can take the piece home and see if it works in their space. Many consignment shops also offer lay-away plans.

Consignment selling is typically based on a 50/50 split of the proceeds of a sale between the store and the client consigning the piece. Most stores offer a 90-day consignment period. If the item doesn't sell in the time allotted, the owner has the option of reducing the price or retrieving the item. If you're considering consigning an item, it's a good idea to clearly understand the terms of the consignment contract before signing or agreeing to them.

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Photos by Jane Phillips/The New Mexican
Kateryna VanHeisch, owner of Recollections Fine Consignments. Photos by Jane Phillips/The New Mexican
Says Kateryna VanHeisch, owner of Recollections Fine Consignments, "We specialize in mid-priced to higher-end upholstered furniture and antiques, and smaller decorative accessories like lamps, books and ornamental pieces."
Alicia de Najera Sena, owner of Lost & Found Treasure & Antiques. Photos by Jane Phillips/The New Mexican
Alicia de Najera Sena, owner of Lost & Found Treasure & Antiques, says, "We take things that aren't in perfect condition and make them that way ... I embellish them and that's what makes my store different."

"Cool and interesting"

Looking for something special? Talk to Kateryna VanHeisch, owner of Recollections Fine Interior Consignments, 530 S. Guadalupe St., in the Railyard next to Barker Realty.

"We specialize in mid-priced to higher-end upholstered furniture and antiques, and smaller decorative accessories like lamps, books and ornamental pieces," VanHeisch says of her five-year-old store. "Anything that's cool and interesting."

VanHeisch, who bought the store in 2002 from its original owner, Jane Smith, notes that there is a growing trend for people seeking mid-modern furnishings. "My eye tends toward French antiques and older patinas," she says, "but we're open. Upholstered items are our number one seller -- we only take good name-brand quality pieces in good condition. People know the value of these items."

The 1,500-square-foot store, which will expand in 2008 to an additional location, also features an assortment of chandeliers, lamps and rugs.

The joy of rehab

Since 2001, Alicia de Najera Sena, owner of Lost & Found I & II, has been helping clients find and sell "objects d'art." The two stores, and an adjacent wood-shop on Cerrillos Road, offer a combined 2,500 square feet of possibility for the shopper.

"I'll take in the things people don't want and refurbish them and make them really beautiful," de Najera Sena says. "After my first month in business, I had sold everything. When I have pieces rehabbed, I try to make them very special by adding special pulls, paints, etc. We have a shop and full-time employee for rehabbing furniture."

Being able to rehab items in-house means she rarely has to say no to something clients bring in to sell, de Najera Sena says. "We take things that aren't in perfect condition and make them that way . . . I embellish them and that's what makes my store different."

Lost & Found specializes in selling art and Mexican distressed furniture. But the consignment business is never predictable, de Najera Sena says. Once, a big box came in for consignment and, when she opened it, she found a gold flatware setting for 60 people with carved Buddhas on the handles. "It was probably the most incredible thing I've seen in my life," she says.

"Reputation is everything"

The grandfather of Santa Fe's consignment scene is Stephen's A Consignment Gallery at 2701 Cerrillos Road, across from Santa Fe Mazda Volvo.

Owner Stephen Etre says that his store started as an auction house in 1982. "It was Streck's Antiques & Auction Service . . . on Palace Avenue" he says.

"Then (it) moved to the corner Guadalupe and Paseo de Peralta, where the Hotel Santa Fe is now located."

Etre joined the shop's staff in 1983, purchased the business in 1986 and moved it to its present location in 1987.

"You can fill an inventory quickly buying other people's items through consigning," Etre says. "We got a good handle on consignment through the auction business."

Stephen's "specializes in not being specialized," Etre says.

"When someone comes through the door, they may be looking for a sofa -- and we have a choice of contemporary as well as antiques."

Baby boomers are now looking for the kinds of pieces they grew up with, Etre says -- Eames, Herman Miller and Dunbar. "We get a few calls per week from people all over the country seeking these pieces," he says.

One of Etre's favorite stories, though, is about the time they took a Windsor writing armchair from a local home on consignment. "We didn't realize how special it was," he says. "It went off to a NewYork auction and sold for $26,000."

Although the 11,000-square-foot shop sells via the Internet, its Web site, by phone and referrals, the majority of its business still is local walk-in traffic, Etre says.

You can't see, smell or touch an object on eBay, Etre says.

"Consignment shops offer security and service," he adds.

"When it comes to consignment, reputation is everything."

"You name it, we have it"

What started in 1987 as a children's clothing consignment store has blossomed into "a gathering place," says Suzanne Wissman-Moore, owner of Double Take. "We moved into maternity and merchandise for kids, then moved into adult clothing then furniture, Western collectibles, Native jewelry, antiques and Americana. You name it, we have it."

Double Take started selling furniture in 1993; now that's about a quarter of its sales, Wissman-Moore says. "We have furniture for everybody -- whether it's for your child, or your dorm room, or a couple starting out. We have a ton of housewares and accessories," she says of her 27,000-square-foot retail location on South Guadalupe and Aztec streets, across from the Zia Diner and next to the Cowgirl Hall of Fame. "We sell everything," she says. "It's amazing what people bring in."

Some of the most interesting things to grace Double Take's doors include a 19th-century cobbler bench, a turn-of-the-century Cochiti trastero, and cutout metal flames that once adorned the doors of the Lensic Theater.

"There's something for every different age and income level," Wissman-Moore says. "Working with the community is the best part of consignment. The money stays in the community.

We have a lot of employees whose parents shopped here when they were toddlers."

If you go

Recollections Fine Interior Consignments
530 S. Guadalupe St., 988-4775
Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Saturday; closed Sunday

Lost & Found I & II
Store I is at 1626 Cerrillos Road, 982-2205 Store II is at 1942 Cerrillos Road, 982-1302
Hours for both stores: 10: 30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Saturday; closed Sunday

Stephen's A Consignment Gallery
2701 Cerrillos Road, 471-0802 www.stephensconsignments.com
Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Saturday; noon to 5 p.m. Sunday

Double Take
320 Aztec St., 989-8886 www.santafepottery.com
Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Saturday; closed Sunday


Heather Wood is a freelance writer who writes regularly for the Santa Fe New Mexican. She can be reached through her website at www.HeatherWoodFreelance.com.

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