Consignment sales typically refer to clothing or baby toys, but Linda DePriests home on St. George Island, Fla., is filled with quality furniture she bought at a fraction of what it would cost new.
Consignment furniture stores match sellers who want to shed nice pieces and recoup some of their investment with savvy shoppers hunting for bargains. They feature high-quality used pieces at prices well below retail.
When DePriest and her husband built their three-bedroom home, she decided to buy as much of the furniture as possible at consignment. I shopped an entire year, she says. All of the furniture, except for one bunk bed, came from consignment. Total cost: less than $4,000.
Building a relationship with consignment shop owners and employees was a big help, says DePriest, who told them exactly what she wanted and was willing to pay. You have to be patient, and you have to be willing to walk away.
One of her best finds was a brand-name queen bedroom set, with chest and dresser, for around $600. I comparison shop, and I know that new, it would cost two or three times that. I bought it on the spot. I also got a dining room table and six chairs and two bar stools for under $300.
Cindy Hunsucker of Hendersonville, Tenn., discovered consignment when she was furnishing her daughters first dormitory. I noticed a shop on my way to the post office and just stopped in, she says. I was really surprised at the variety and the quality, Hunsucker says.
Making regular trips to the shops, being patient, and putting what you want on the stores wish lists are good strategies, because inventory constantly moves.
For even better deals, ask if the stores are willing to negotiate price and find out when they make their markdowns. Hunsucker checks the shops inventory a couple of times a week, because new items constantly rotate in.
Her advice: I had to learn to be patient; that you cant have it all at once. But at the same time, when you see something that you really like, you better go on and get it.
Her best find was an antique secretary she later discovered was worth twice what she paid. That was my best buy ever, Hunsucker says, but there are plenty of others.