Looking to downsize? Consignment may be the answer

To get rid of furniture and household goods that still have some usefulness but that you no longer need, you have four options: Donate, hold a garage sale, hold an estate sale or consign. Of these four, Renee Graves, co-owner of Classic Consignments in Williamsburg, believes consigning pieces is the best bet.

“With estate sales, items sell fast, but you generally get only 10 cents on the dollar,” Graves said. But at her store and many others like it, consignees get 50 percent of the sales price.

Graves and her business partner, Michelle Olesko, opened Classic Consignments almost nine years ago. They look for pieces that can be repurposed, such as an old, repairable chest of drawers to use as a side table to store linens. They also look for newer pieces in good shape.

“We set the prices because we know what sells from experience. We want to move (items) as quick as possible,” Graves said. But, she said, they are willing to hold a piece to get a good price.

Both Graves and Kimberly Karafa, owner of Joan’s Antiques, also in Williamsburg, suggest that if you’re having an estate sale, you let them come in first and take the pieces they are interested in selling and let the estate sale handle the rest.

“Consignments take longer, but you get more money. With estate sales, you get the money faster, but you get less of it,” Graves said.

Classic Consignment does not take jewelry or clothing and Graves said she gets a lot of dishes, so she is pretty picky about what she will take. If you have a whole house full of items, she or Olesko will come and look at it. If you have just one or two large items, email her a picture and if you have small items that can fit in your car, just bring them in.

Karafa works her sales a little differently. She gets 40 percent of the sale while the consignee gets 60 percent.

“I give our consignment clients a little more advantage. I price items aggressively so they will sell pretty quickly.” That plan has worked for the past 15 months since the shop moved to Williamsburg from Gloucester.

“I consign different and interesting pieces, not necessarily antiques,” she said. “We are not a thrift store and I want to reflect that.”

Both stores take furniture, art, rugs, lamps, tables, bookcases and other accessories. Karafa said she will take fine china pieces, but she does not want a whole set. She also doesn’t want housewares, glasses, dishes, knick knacks or bedding.

Williamsburg is a prime location for consignment stores, both women said. The population of retirees looking to downsize or move into retirement homes creates a large market to draw from. Plus, the nearby military population adds many interesting pieces from around the world, Karafa said.

Both owners feel like they are helping their clients and developing long-lasting relationships with them.

“I love the fact I am meeting people from all walks of life and hear the stories they tell,” Karafa said.

Tips for consigning

» Clean items before bringing them in.

» Bring items that are whole and working.

» Have items packed up and ready to go.

» Research the uniqueness and history of a piece.

» Call in a consignment shop before having an estate sale.

» A consignment shop is not a thrift store. They will not take all used items.

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