THIS SUMMER, SPEND A DAY EXPLORING OUR REGION’S UNIQUE COLLECTION OF HOME DÉCOR AND FURNITURE CONSIGNMENT SHOPPING—IT’S WHERE HIGH-END STYLE AND GREAT DEALS COME TOGETHER. FROM MID-CENTURY MODERN, TRADITIONAL OR COASTAL SHABBY CHIC, MORE PEOPLE ARE REALIZING THAT RE-DECORATING A HOME OR A ROOM DOESN’T HAVE TO BE OUT OF REACH. CAPE FEAR LIVING CHECKS IN WITH FOUR OF SOUTHEASTERN NC’S HOTTEST CONSIGNMENT STORES, EACH WITH THEIR OWN SPECIAL NICHE.
One post is all it takes before Home Again social media followers are at the door. The store carries current styles of furniture and décor along with some gently used items. Expect anywhere from 75 to 100 customers swarming the showroom on any given Saturday—and who can blame them? Only at Home Again can you find the latest designs with huge percentages off. The person to thank is owner, Jeannie Bethel Cooley. She spent more than 20 years as a top executive in the wholesale furniture industry and now uses her knowledge and contacts to bring incredible deals to her customers.
“I’m able to get opportunity buys, closeouts and entire High Point showrooms; it’s all the most recent stuff featured in magazines, and we get it for a big discount,” says Cooley. Furniture arrives at the store just as fast as it’s being lifted out. Cooley’s well-oiled machine of strong guys in matching Home Again t-shirts lift couches and end-tables over the heads of shoppers all day long. Shoppers who are in the know sign up for their popular email newsletter that has over 15,000 subscribers (get it at www.homeagainwilmington.com). Home Again also sells, jewelry, accessories and gifts. “There are things here that cost $2 and things that cost $2,000. It’s fun, it’s ever changing—I love coming to work every day,” says Cooley.
Elizabeth Mena, a former social worker with Child and Adult Protective Services, entered the world of consigning by happenstance in 2013.
“I actually got talked into it,” Mena laughs. “The previous owner talked me into coming to work for them, and I ended up buying the business.”
The business, Cape Fear Home Furnishings & Consignments (previously known as Cape Fear Consignments & More) is owned and operated by Elizabeth Mena and her husband Myron Nix.
“I found that I like decorating and re-creating and finding bargains and passing those savings onto people, and I’m still able to help and do good deeds,” says Mena.
Cape Fear Home Furnishings & Consignments partners with Hope Chest thrift stores by providing them with furniture to support victims of domestic violence in Brunswick County.
The store carries both consigned and new pieces of every style and trend. “Beachy shabby-chic is the fastest selling style these days,” says Mena. New lines include Forty West Designs, Bassett Mirror, and Mena’s personal favorite, J Furniture, which is made in Mississippi and offers custom upholstery. Once a year Mena throws a big anniversary party that draws a crowd as a thank you to her customers and consigners. “We have a very laid-back environment. No high pressure anything; people run into their neighbors and sit down and start talking. It’s a fun place just to hang out,” says Mena.
The Ivy Cottage is the pioneer of consignment stores in the Cape Fear region. The store staked its claim on Wilmington more than 20 years ago and has transformed into a four-building mecca, spanning three addresses on Market Street. People come and spend the entire day at Ivy Cottage, break for lunch and come back. It’s where locals take their out-of-town guests, it’s where every single movie and television show ever filmed in Wilmington has come to stage their sets. Ivy Cottage is owned by Andrew “Drew” and Marie Keller along with their two children.
“My five-year-old Abigail likes to show off the diamonds. Aidan just says hello to everyone and tells them there’s free coffee in the back,” laughs Drew Keller. “Believe it or not, they’ve never broken anything!”
Keller says he’s surprised by recent hot sellers like minerals and crystals (building #2), nautical (building #3) and the return of mid-century modern (building #1).
“15 years ago, we didn’t even take it—now we sell more midcentury and reclaimed than antiques,” Keller says.
The Ivy Cottage is one of the only consignment stores left offering a 60/40 split. They have more than 10,000 active consignors and take in 300-400 hundred items per day with 120-day contracts, so no item ever stays in the store for longer than four months.
“It’s hard to put a place like this in a paragraph,” says Keller. “We’re not at Mayfaire, we’re not downtown. You have to really want to come here; it truly is a destination.”
Atrue Southern home has at least one solid piece of furniture with a good story. Southern Home Furniture & Fine Consignments is a business that believes, as most Southerners do, that unique finds are what make a house complete. Their focus is on classic, more curated pieces like high-end antiques, solid woods, vintage rugs and original art, along with a line of new furniture. Southern Home, owned by John and Louisa Ward, started off as a store, then became an auction house and naturally progressed into consignment. The Southern Home team is as solid as the pieces they sell, each with expertise and passion for the treasures that come through the door.
“When you don’t know what’s coming, and they pull into the back and you unroll the most amazing rug,it’s really exciting,” says Ann White Schutte, Southern Home designer and manager. “A 1700’s chest recently came in the back of pick-up truck; a beautiful 18thcentury piece. The hardware was impeccable,” she says.
Southern Home keeps their pricing low, so items move fast. From secretaries and pie safes to an original typewriter and a blue velvet couch,inventory is never stagnant. “I always say if you see something you like, don’t think about it too long because of our constantly moving and changing inventory, it might not be here tomorrow,” Schutte warns.