Re-using, recycle, re-purpose. These principles apply to furniture as well as clothes or glass or books. People looking to save money and stress on the Earth know that re-using materials—passing them on—saves having to buy new. The new family uses the items in a fresh way, thus repurposing them.
Discover how smart, clever, and trendy secondhand shopping can be. Many people prefer buying used furniture because they feel free to paint it and change the decoration of their rooms frequently. Call it sustainable interior decorating: buyers get a good deal, sellers get money for their cherished stuff, and the landfill gets nothing.
Let’s look into some consignment shops around Montana and see what they offer.
Missoula - Echo Echo
Owner: Jennifer Pinto
Jennifer Pinto’s Web site says it all. Her motto is “home furnishings worth repeating;” she offers gently used, one-of-a-kind pieces for the home and home office. On the Web site you can see items with pictures and prices, which also are found on Craigslist. She says she learned the values of quality, thrift, and sustainability from two grandmothers whom she visited as a child. One lived in the city and shopped only in secondhand haunts. The other lived in the country and often bartered or traded for quality goods.
When in 2008, Jennifer, like others, found she needed a job, she launched her business in a tucked-away warehouse. She got furniture from friends and the business developed a following. In her opinion people like consignment stores because they can find quality vintage pieces there. People may resonate with the 1950s or ‘60s and like to decorate in that mode. She says people are looking for “the unique and interesting.” She gives her consignors 50% of sales. Of all the owners interviewed, Jennifer excels in using social media for marketing. Find her on Facebook; read her blog.
2935 Stockroad Rd. K-3
Helena - Elements Consign & Design
Owner: Paula Bonar
Paula, who’s been in business 15 years, had her eyes opened at Chicago’s huge Furniture Mart. Experienced in retail, she offers consignors a 50-50 deal, for 90 days. She selects high-end items and is picky, she says. For customers she offers pickup and delivery service. She enjoys having a variety of decades represented in her store. She finds customers want to change their rooms around every year. Her most frequent comment is “We love this store.” She provides home staging. Currently she is remodeling a building and plans to offer salvaged materials obtained from contractors. They should be popular.
Elements Consign & Design
1107 Helena Ave.
Helena - Crazy Mountain Consigment
Owner: Holly Melton
2530 N. Montana Ave.
Kalispell - Southside Consignment
Owner: Donna Kourns
Donna, who’s been in business 20 years, got started when her husband and a friend got the idea for a building they owned. They held a huge garage sale and learned what items were popular. Over the years, they re-defined their focus, became eco-friendly, and offered booths to consignors. Now she runs the business herself and enjoys it. During the recession she found people looked for accessories more than big pieces. None of her furniture is fiberboard, only solid wood. She loves designing and says, “The fashion now is lodge-style, country, and retro. People like to touch, feel, and see.”
2699 US Hwy 93 S
Kalispell - Red Neck Consignment
Owner: Tina Terry
3167 US Hwy 93 S.
Bozeman - Re-couture
Owner: Lynell Parks
Lynell’s motto is “Upscale Resale, Choose to Reuse.” She started the business with Kristin Zangenberg two years ago when the economy dropped and the gals wanted new careers. Lynell had seen a news clip about how popular consignment stores were and she recalled the Tiffany-colored wrapping. She also had a closet full of clothes with the sales tags still on them. Kristin had a knack for finding quality items. So they started with high-end clothes but found that their furniture moved “nicely.” Customers were impressed with how fast items sold. Lynell bought out Kristin when Kristin had to move to California with her husband. She finds that around Bozeman many customers are decorating second homes.
2320 W. Main
Bozeman - Second Impressions
Owner: Corrine DeRuiter Hogan
This elegant store is entirely devoted to furnishings. In fact, it is called a “Home Furnishings Gallery” where you “Get that million dollar look at a fraction of the cost.” Beautiful pieces are priced at half of retail and then reduced further if the owner so chooses.
The consignor also has the options of either taking back the item or donating it to Habitat for Humanity.
1662 Bobcat Drive, off Huffine
Billings - Bourne Again Shoppe
Owner: Lietta Bourne
No pun needed, the owner of this store’s last name is “Bourne.” The newest of the stores at six months, the owner has always loved retail. The other day she said some young women entered the place and suddenly shrieked. Prior to coming, they wondered if they would possibly find these tumblers they remembered from childhood, and there they were—right in front of them. Lietta says, “The pleasure customers get out of shopping consignment is the bringing back of memories and the chance to play.” She gets her furniture from people sizing down their homes or moving into assisted living or passing on. “Every day I display new things. Many visitors comment on how uncluttered the store is. They say that this is one of the neatest and cleanest stores they have had the pleasure to visit. I have been very, very pleased at the reception by the buying public.”
Bourne Again Shoppe
1701 Grand Ave.
These are not the only outlets you’ll find in your town. Just as in the children’s story The Velveteen Rabbit, useful furniture often just needs a good new home.
I asked a woman who haunts consignment stores about her shopping philosophy. She says, “I am always looking for the unique and perfect piece for me. Some people love the treasure hunt, some love the selection, and some are feeling the pinch of the economy. But all consignment shoppers love a bargain. If you go into a consignment store, you will see moms and kids, elderly couples, guys, and well-heeled middle-aged women all taking the journey together. That combined with the increasing popularity of recycling and reusing in our materialistic world make resale shopping the trend of the decade.”