When my editors suggested a feature on secondhand shopping for furniture and home décor, I was all in.
My couch is the only piece of furniture that was purchased retail at a “regular” furniture store. (And it’s been given a “facelift” with a slipcover and new pillows.) Everything else had a previous life before finding its way to me.
Most of the things I hold dear came with their own stories… even if I don’t know every detail. They had a past before finding their present home under my roof.
These days, it turns out shopping secondhand is actually trendy, not to mention smart.
“I think in this economy people are looking to make their dollar stretch,” says Debbie Holshue, owner of Renaissance Room, the area’s oldest furniture and home décor consignment store, which opened over 20 years ago.
“The price of new furniture is very inflated; the mark-up is astronomical. That’s why they can run ads with furniture marked half price,” notes Jim Holstrom, who owns My Designer’s Attic. “People are looking to save money wherever they can. If you’re offering them a high-quality item that has been taken care of—and at a good price—they’re going to go for it.”
There are numerous shops in Marion County where you can find quality “pre-owned” furniture and home décor. Markdowns usually occur if a piece isn’t sold by a certain date. Some shops have pick-up and delivery service. Most have Facebook pages and websites displaying their latest offerings.
“When we opened in 1993, no one else in town was doing this; we were the only ones. I just felt there was a need. My mother had a clothing consignment shop, and a lot of people were asking her to take small pieces like lamps, end tables and so forth. I was a stay-at-home mom at the time and thought, Why not?,” says Debbie Holshue, who owns Renaissance Room with her husband, Bob.
“We rented a small store, and it just took off. Within 10 years, we bought our own land, built our own building and now we have an 8,000-square-foot showroom,” she says. “Through those 20 years and the services we’ve offered, we’ve built many relationships and feel we’re able to help many families in the process. It’s really a relationship business.
“We know what people are looking for. We have everything from sets of sheets to sets of china; you never know what you’re going to find, and it changes all the time,” adds Holshue, pointing out an enormous Chinese armoire priced at $1,600.
“If you have a shop that screens items and brings in quality merchandise, this makes shopping easier because it’s already clean and checked for quality, and the price is less than retail. It’s fair market value, not over- or under-priced.”
Thinking of a friend updating their great room, here’s what I found at Renaissance Room:
Metal and mirror leaves candle holder $25
Assorted area rugs $50 and up
Cherry finish TV armoire $300
Burl wood wet bar with granite top and 4 bar stools $2,500
The White Elephant
“I have a shopping problem,” laughs Jennifer Townsend, owner of The White Elephant in downtown Ocala. “I purchase everything, then bring it in to the shop and resell it, so I get to pick and choose what to buy. I find things at auctions, flea markets, homes, even on the side of the road. I’m not a morning person, so I don’t go to yard sales.”
What really excites Townsend is discovering vintage, one-of-a-kind, eclectic things you don’t see every day.
Lettering on her storefront window proclaims “Fine Hoarding,” and that’s exactly what you’ll find in Townsend’s delightfully crowded store, which is filled with everything from furniture to art, jewelry to knick-knacks, books to accessories.
“A lot of people come here looking for inspiration, for one certain piece to get them going in a direction. They may find a lamp and redecorate a whole room around that one thing,” says Townsend, who opened her business nine years ago.
“I don’t really have an ‘average’ customer,” she adds. “They come in all age brackets and from all walks of life. Many people who never dreamed they’d be buying secondhand are doing it because they can’t afford to buy retail.”
Townsend says it helps to have a vision, but be patient and open-minded when shopping secondhand because what you find may need to be painted, stained or otherwise “tweaked.”
Looking to create a cozy reading nook in the corner of one room, here’s what I discovered at The White Elephant:
Embroidered pillow $9
Vintage globe $30
Vintage faux bamboo yellow cane chair $85
Art Noveau vintage lamp with fiberglass shade $99
Mersman Demi-lune table with hand-carved bird $165
My Designer’s Attic
“I have a design background, so I accept items I think will appeal to buyers, but they must be of extremely high quality,” says Jim Holstrom, owner of My Designer’s Attic, which has two locations in Ocala.
“I’ve had the Magnolia location for four years in March and opened the College Road store last summer,” says Holstrom. “The Magnolia store is now a clearance center; we still have nice things, but it caters to people looking for furniture on a budget, while the College Road store has more high-end and one-of-a-kind items.”
Holstrom frequently buys from estate sales when looking for merchandise, and about 60 percent of the items in his stores are consigned.
There’s definitely an original feel to many of the items at the College Road location. In addition to furniture and home décor, there are custom-made pieces by local artisans, including jewelry, pottery and fanciful folk art. It’s a great place to find something eclectic and out-of-the-ordinary if you’re looking for a statement piece.
I went to My Designer’s Attic specifically hunting for storage pieces, keeping in mind the décor trends for 2014:
Set of two vintage wicker valises $40
Set of three stacking black-and-white leather suitcases $110
Woven metal hostess/storage stand with three shelves inside $240
Large cedar trunk (doubles as coffee table) $320
The Carriage Trade
“People usually come specifically with something in mind, but nine out of 10 times they leave with something completely different than they came for. I think it’s because we have such a wide variety,” says Katie Payne, assistant manager at The Carriage Trade, which has been in Ocala for 14 years.
Payne says this happens regularly because the shop routinely offers unusual objects. Some out-of-the-ordinary décor items include a mounted elk head, Fredrick Remington western bronzes, Fred Stone artwork, sculptures, Asian pieces, even a model tractor. Horse items are always popular, Payne adds.
She explains that people can bring décor items to the store for inspection. Furniture is picked up daily.
“We go as far as Leesburg, Crystal River and Gainesville, and pick up a truckload of furniture every day of the week from a different direction. We won’t take anything that has animal stains or smells of cigarette smoke; something has to be in excellent condition for us to accept it.”
Thinking of a way to incorporate metal and black-and-white into a living room, here’s what I found at The Carriage Trade:
Set of three pewter candle stands $25
Metal/wood black and silver wall hanging $45
Framed black-and-white print of late local horseman Fred Hooper with 1945 Kentucky Derby winner Hoop Jr. $125
Black iron chaise with cushion and four pillows $295