July 18, 2014 at 1:00 am

Consignment shops in Metro Detroit offer secondhand gems

Consignment shops for the home are on the rise in Metro Detroit, and the selection is better than ever before. The search for secondhand finds beats your average garage sale because of the curated mix.

Many resale locations keep wish lists for those looking for that special something. They also refer customers to a variety of services including pickup and delivery, upholstery, furniture repair and more.

Fifi & Coco’s Galerie in Birmingham is a delightful little shop owned by interior designer Phyllis Whitehead, who combines consigned pieces with new items, from tabletop and gifts to monogrammed towels and robes.

Whitehead describes the resale portion as “recycled luxury” because of the quality finds at a fraction of their original cost.

“It’s like a home furnishing store that has consignment,” she says. Items include Baker, Ralph Lauren and Henredon.

Vintage and designer bags also make the cut. “We vet everything we take. It has to be salable,” Whitehead says. Current consignment items can be viewed on their website.

Those looking to sell are asked to email photos along with product details. Consignors receive 45 percent of the selling price. If something hasn’t sold in 90 days, the consignor can agree to a markdown or donation, or reclaim the piece.

Most consigned items are at least half of their original price with the exception of antiques, which tend to hold their value.

Whitehead’s design business inspired her to open her store more than two years ago. “Many people move or downsize, and their children don’t want this stuff,” she says. “It started with clients asking, ‘What do I do with this piece?’ ”

Now, she can’t keep chandeliers and end tables in stock, and mirrors are always in demand.

“To me, mirrors are art,” Whitehead says. “I also do well with vintage dishes and stemware. It’s nice to mix old and new.”

Because consigned artwork goes quickly, local artists are being added to the mix. Whitehead has a warehouse in Clawson (open by appointment or advertised sale) with additional inventory.

Prices in her shop go from $5 greeting cards to secondhand chandeliers that sell for a few thousand dollars.

A pop-up store in the back, Holland Street Studio, offers custom personalized pieces like trays and signs.

Decorative lamps dot the shop. “I like vintage lighting. It’s more of a conversation,” says Whitehead, who also sells new napkins and place mats. “I love setting a great table. To me that’s part of the dining experience.”

Buyers often become consignors, and the history of the pieces can be intriguing. “When people buy stuff, they want the story,” she says.

The quest for finding something truly unique is picking up steam. “People are more comfortable with going with what they like,” Whitehead says. “Young people are willing to venture out to find something different and make a day of it.”

Her shop definitely has a designer’s touch. “People come in and sit down and say, ‘I could just live here,’ ” she says.

A short drive away, you’ll find ReDesign Home Consignment in Royal Oak, specializing in high-end furniture and accessories. Robert Lebow, retail merchandising director and store manager, and Liz Adelman, assistant manager, are both extremely knowledgeable about the inventory that features Guy Chaddock, Pace, Brueton, Baker, Henredon and Florence Knoll.

“We go from antique to contemporary with an exclusive focus on quality,” says Lebow. Potential consignors should send photos via email.

Their impressive selection includes items that have been donated or consigned to the store that is run by the National Council of Jewish Women Greater Detroit Section. Proceeds go back to the community to support nondenominational charitable programs.

Consignors can expect a 50/50 split of the selling price. Markdowns begin after 20 days. Initial pricing begins around 50 percent or less of the original value with the exception of antiques.

New pieces arrive daily at the popular destination that attracts interior designers who buy and consign. A 19th century art nouveau fireplace screen and 19th century English andirons are among the unique finds. Crystal includes Baccarat and Waterford. A luxurious calfskin rug originally worth $16,000 is available for $2,300.

Chandeliers fill the ceiling. “Lighting is one of the best sellers,” Lebow says.

“You have to go twice around, clockwise and then counterclockwise because your dominant eye will catch things that you missed the first time,” Adelman adds.

“Any arrangement can be from five different houses,” says Lebow. “We put everything together in vignettes that people can appreciate. We want to give them a proper showroom presentation.”

“Every week it’s a new store,” Adelman says. People come from all over: Grosse Pointe, Windsor, Ohio and Chicago. They’ve sent furniture to the Cayman Islands and sold art to a buyer in Berlin.

“Consignment shops get all the older good stuff,” says Lebow, a former interior designer of high-end homes who learned early on: “You buy it once; buy good and keep it.”

In nearby Berkley, Tootie and Tallulah’s, owned by Sally Crosthwaite and Jeri Brand, offers a well-rounded mix of consigned furniture and accessories, works by local artists and new products like gifts and Fair Trade goods. It’s hard to distinguish some of the resale pieces from the new merchandise. “We’re pretty picky about what we accept,” Crosthwaite says.

Consignors can expect a 50/50 split and a 60-day contract. Photos of larger items must be received via email, while smaller pieces can be seen by appointment.

The consignment contains a mix of antiques, mid-century modern and contemporary home goods. Currently, lamps, accent tables and accent chairs are going quickly. Bookcases are often a quick sell.

Customers pay about half for consigned furnishings and accessories. There are no discounts for new pieces or antiques. Prices range from a $5 gift item to a $3,000 sofa.

Their selection includes gently used items from Baker, Henredon and Ethan Allen. Works by local artists are part of the draw. “They’re always changing, which makes it fun,” Crosthwaite says. “It looks different every week. People come just to see what’s new.”

They recently added the Annex across the street to house more art and furniture.

“Mid-century has been a good seller for us lately, and glassware. People are more into mixing and matching,” says Crosthwaite. “A lady came in the other day and bought eight different wine glasses for a party.”

Their customers like to vary furniture and woods. “They mix shapes, like round and square end tables and it all kind of works,” she says.

Regulars often spend the day combining estate sales with consignment shop hopping.

“We are definitely a destination store. People come from all over: Ann Arbor, Romeo, Clarkston,” Crosthwaite says.

Metro Detroiters seem to appreciate the value of a good find. “Consignment shops are back in vogue now,” she says. “They’re not the stinky old stores anymore. They’re really nice and you can find unbelievable buys.”

Sources

Here are a few local consignment shops. Hours and policies vary.

Fifi & Coco’s Galerie, 700 N. Old Woodward, Suite 202, Birmingham, (248) 792-3696

fifiandcoco.com.

Le Shoppe, 126 Ferland, Walled Lake, (248) 668-0000, leshoppe.net.

ReDesign Home Consignment, 32801 Woodward, Royal Oak, (248) 439-6040, ncjwgds.org.

Right Moves Consignment & Estate Sales, 3116 W. 12 Mile, Berkley, (248) 546-2740

rightmovesconsignment.com.

Tootie and Tallulah’s, 2816 Coolidge, Berkley, (248) 850-7637, tootieandtallulahs.com.

Treasure Mart, 529 Detroit, Ann Arbor, (734) 662-1363, treasuremart.com.

Jeanine Matlow writes the Smart Solutions column in Homestyle. You can reach her at jeaninematlow@earthlink.net.

At Tootie and Tallulah's in Berkley, a yellow and lime green chair and ottoman sit next to a set of nesting tables made from metal and wood. / Max Ortiz / The Detroit News