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Consignment Furniture Emporium, Inc. helps sellers and offers buyers bargains

Would you like someone to show up at your door and offer cash for furniture you don’t need? Are you interested in terrific bargains on well-maintained used furniture? John and Linda Kelly can help you, whether you want to sell or buy.

In 1991, Linda Kelly had a problem. She had a bedroom suite she wanted to get rid of. She placed an ad to sell it, and took phone calls, but finally ended up giving the furniture away to someone she begged to take it.

From that problem came an idea that would help people all over the Triad. Linda started Consignment Furniture Emporium, Inc. Her business plan was simple...and almost round-the-clock work. She would pay people for good-condition furniture they no longer wanted. With the help of a mover, she would bring the furniture back to her store and clean it. Then, at her store, she would sell the furniture to people who were happy to save significant money on their furniture purchases.

Linda’s first location was a 1,900-square-foot store off Country Club Road in Winston-Salem. She outgrew that space within six months. Before she moved to a new location, she was literally hanging sofas from the rafters. "Customers would have to climb ladders to try them out," says Linda.

Linda’s business kept growing, and moving. Even 30,000 square feet of space on Witt Street ended up not being enough. In February 2002, Consignment Furniture Emporium moved to its current almost 40,000-square-foot showroom on Stratford Road. Consignment Furniture Emporium, Inc. is now among the largest used furniture companies in the South, says Linda.

Linda’s family has grown as well. In 2000, when Linda was expecting their son, Will, Linda’s husband, John, joined the company. John had already been getting increasingly involved in the business, and had been moving a great deal of furniture. John "went from walking to running," says Linda. John’s work now allows the Kellys to offer people in Greensboro and High Point the same pick-up service they give the Winston-Salem area.

Despite the name, Consignment Furniture Emporium does not consign furniture. They buy it outright. If you call, one of the Kellys will show up at your door with cash in hand, and a truck to take away the furniture. The whole process is convenient and straightforward for the seller.

The Kellys screen the furniture during the initial phone call. They do not buy damaged or dated furniture (unless it could be a "handyman's special") . They do not buy soiled, faded or torn upholstery. They ask customers with small items, or less than three pieces of furniture, to bring them to the store. People who bring furniture to the store are still paid on the spot. In their store, "low-end and high-end furniture cohabitate," says Linda. "We’ve sold a $2,000 [original retail price] sofa for $300," says Linda. "We’ve sold a $700 sofa for much, much less." When Wake Forest parents shop at the store, they are surprised to find solid mahogany end tables along with the student-friendly furniture.

Even if everyone that week wants to sell them sofas -- the item they are most frequently asked to buy -- the Kellys never cut off a type of furniture. "We’d put it in the warehouse before we’d do that," says Linda. Linda says they have grown so quickly partly by offering both the sellers and the buyers a reasonable price. "We don’t pay our overhead by buying sofas for $20 and selling them for $200," says Linda.

They unload as many as three truckloads of furniture a day, so their store’s selection is constantly changing. "One day we’ll have ten dining room suites and in a few days, we could have three times that," says John. The furniture is in such good condition that people think some of it is new.

Many frequent customers regard the store as an entertaining treasure hunt. "We have a lot of first-time buyers, but we also have a lot of regulars," says John. They constantly hear variations on one customer’s comment, "I came here looking for a sofa today and I’ve already seen five I like. I didn’t expect to have to make a decision. I thought I’d be lucky to find one."

Most of their sofas are by major manufacturers and are under $300. Lamps and framed pictures are as low as $10 and $5. An oak sideboard there recently was $195.

Some people trying to find their business have accidentally called copycat consignment stores, says Linda. "Remember, we’re the ones with Emporium in the name."

Consignment Furniture Emporium, Inc. is located at 130 Cloverleaf Drive Winston-Salem, NC (Cloverleaf Drive is a traffic-light-turn off Stratford Road, one mile from Hanes Mall Blvd, across from Cities Restaurant). Hours of operation are Mondays-Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call (336) 765-5053. In the Greensboro area, call (336) 297-1080.


NOTE: CONSIGNMENT FURNITURE EMPORIUM, INC. IS NOT AFFILIATED WITH ANY OTHER CONSIGNMENT FURNITURE STORE(S). CONSIGNMENT FURNITURE EMPORIUM, INC. IS A WINSTON-SALEM BASED CORPORATION WITH ALL GOODS SOLD AT THEIR WINSTON-SALEM RETAIL STORE.



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