Almost as difficult as deciding to part with a personal possession of some value is deciding where to take it. Donations to nonprofit thrift stores are great, but sometimes we need the cash more than the tax deduction. That’s where consignment comes in.
Consignment stores are a better solution for many people than eBay or a garage sale because they do the selling for you; all you have to do is get the stuff to the store.
That said, getting the right item at the right price to the right venue at the right time can be challenging. Here’s an overview of some of Napa Valley’s consignment stores that you can clip and file to review when you’re ready to haul in your clutter in hopes that it is someone else’s treasure.
Definitely Different, on Solano Avenue in Napa, is strictly furniture and some artistic household elements. I’ve had good luck here selling unusual items, for example a moose hide rug and a couple of tanned cow skins. It’s a large, well laid-out shop. Parking is right in front or on the street. Definitely Different is the place to go if you’re looking to sell large items such as sofas, armoires and four-poster beds.
Roost is an adorable shop on Second Street that has just enough inventory to be fun but not so much to be overwhelming. Items range from women’s vintage hats to old wooden cupboards and ladders. Everything has a “found on an old farm” vibe — think, “charmingly distressed.” If that’s the kind of stuff you’ve collected, this is the place to bring it.
Just opened in March this year, Wisdom of Pearls is the latest addition to Napa consignment shops. Energetic owner Lynette Collins is focusing on women’s fashion (clothing and jewelry) only — no men’s or children’s clothing or furniture. She also has a nonprofit connection: her Women of Wisdom program benefits disadvantaged women by providing business attire for reentry into the working world.
Located in St. Helena since 1996, Lolo’s is right on Main Street near Pope Street with parking in front of the store and a small lot on the side, which is helpful when you’re lugging in your stuff to sell.
Lolo’s is very plugged into the community. Every third Wednesday of the month owner Kristine Waldenburg hosts “Girls Day/Night Out,” during which the shop stays open late and the entire store is discounted. Quarterly, Kristine donates 5 percent of the proceeds to a different charity. At least half of Lolo’s staff is Spanish speaking.
Lolo’s offers a wide range of clothing and jewelry from vintage to fast fashion to high end garments with the price tags still attached. She also sells furniture (loveseats, tables, dressers, chairs), art and house wares. They do not accept electronics, men’s suits or bridal wear. And for some reason — no rocking chairs!
Ella Blu, open since August 2011, is in the old Vintage Vogue building, a charming house at the corner of Lincoln and Myrtle in Calistoga. Parking is on the street. Owner Kate Buck sells women’s and men’s higher-end clothing and home décor and small furnishings. She does not accept children’s clothing or large pieces of furniture.
Typically a consignment store will keep an item for sale for 60 days, but usually items are deeply discounted if not sold within 30 days. If you want to get a certain price, you have to let the store know.
After 60 days, items may be picked up by the owner or the store will donate them to a non-profit. Consignment shops have a lot of inventory coming in and going out — it is an organizational juggling act that never ceases to amaze me. If you are consigning, you will need to take responsibility for follow-up on your items; the store might have the best intentions of calling you to pick up items if they are not sold after 60 days, but things do fall through the cracks.
If you are really concerned about retrieving unsold items or if an item is particularly valuable, snap a picture of it with your phone and also get a signed inventory list of your items from the store, otherwise it will be hard to hold the store accountable. On the odd occasion that an item was “lost in the consignment shuffle” most stores will do the right thing by you and pay you your share if you have the inventory list.
The inventory list should also note the approximate value of any special items, so that there is no confusion between you and the store about what it should sell for. As in so many things, clarity of communication will do wonders for your consigning experience.
I suggest that first time consigners call or visit a store to get an idea of the quality level and variety of items they look for before going to the trouble of hauling things in. With these stores (along with a few others I didn’t have space to include), there are plenty of terrific consignment venues in the Napa Valley.
Angela Hoxsey is a professional organizer based in the Napa Valley. For information about her services, go to houseinorder.com or call 738-4346. Like House in Order on Facebook for more organizing tricks and tips.