A Standing Ovation for Saving with Style
Encore Consignment Gallery, in Town & Country, specializes in matching beautiful things with people who will love them, according to Barb Lampe, who is co-owner of the store with her cousin Maureen Strobeck.
Strobeck said the store, which opened in June of 2013 at 287 Lamp and Lantern Village, is not the typical consignment environment because Encore displays gently-used home furniture and home decor items in an organized fashion that is elegantly presented, so customers can visualize how pieces might work in their home.
Their 10,000-square-foot showroom displays upscale furnishings, with an inventory that is constantly changing and consisting of a wide variety of items ranging from French country to contemporary and modern pieces.
“It’s quality furniture at value pricing, usually 30 to 80 percent of original value,” Strobeck said.
Strobeck’s background is in retail, having been with J. C. Penney in management for 14 years and then with the May Company’s Famous Barr, Venture, and Payless stores all over the country. Lampe had been in the design field since 1987, having owned a Decorating Den store and worked for Ashley Furniture‘s O’Fallon store as presentation manager.
“One thing I noticed in so many places were these fabulous consignment furniture stores that St. Louis didn’t have,” said Strobeck, who retired from being director of stores for Payless in 2009 and then, to learn the consignment business, became operating officer of Terri’s Consign and Design in Phoenix from 2009 to 2011.
“In Phoenix alone, the consignment stores are from 10,000 to 30,000 square feet in size, and, within a five-mile radius of where I lived, there were 14 different stores. When I was moving back to St. Louis, I thought we needed something like that here, a place where older people could downsize and where people who wanted to redecorate or move could take things.”
When she got back to St. Louis, she called Lampe.
“I knew that, if there was ever someone I wanted to be in business with, she’d be perfect,” Strobeck said.
“We started looking for real estate to rent but kept getting turned down. In some peoples’ minds, consignment means a junked-up place with dirty windows. But our goal was to be beautiful and really have great customer service. First, we had to educate the market here.”
She finally contacted Jim Otis, who owns the shopping center where they’re located, “ he got it – he could see our vision, of offering great furniture in great condition and creating an experience so people love to shop here, and was open to it.”
“We wanted a place around Chesterfield, which is a growing, family-oriented area, “ Strobeck said.
The store offers furniture, decor, and accessories from upscale brands and designers from various high end retailers including Bernhardt, Thomasville, Marge Carson, Frontgate, Drexel Heritage, Henredon, Bassett, Pottery Barn, Horchow, Crate & Barrel and Shubert.
The non-commission shopping environment lets people look around on their own or has associates available to answer questions, offer design ideas and make suggestions on items including bar stools, living room furniture, dining chairs and tables, bedroom furniture, outdoor furniture, entertainment centers, coffee tables, rugs, floral arrangements, accessories and wall decor.
Strobeck said the store also benefits consigners.
“We have people who tell us they sold their house six months ago and gave stuff away because they didn’t know where to bring it,” Strobeck said, adding they accept attractive, clean and desirable items from people who are downsizing, redecorating or moving.
Encore offers consignors a safe, convenient, no hassle and honest alternative, she said.
They determine fair market pricing by considering styles, condition, age, brand name and customer demand. After a price is agreed upon, the item is put into inventory for display and sale.
Encore has a state-of-the-art consignment system to ensure care, tracking and control of furniture and home decor items. They offer a 48/52 split on all furniture items and a 40/60 split on accessories sold during the contract period and prepare checks on a monthly basis for in-store pickup. And they can coordinate disposal of any unsold items to local charities, if the owner doesn’t want to retrieve them.
“We make things look like they’d look in a home, with things constantly moved around, to give people great ideas on decorating their home,” Strobeck said.
“They see they can buy a quality piece of furniture at a great value to fill in a spot and change the look of a home for less than half of what they could do by going to a furniture store.”
The store has some customers who buy things and consign them back to the store later.
“Customers come from all over – not just West County but South County, Lake St. Louis, O’Fallon and even Illinois,” Strobeck said.
“I love doing this, helping people and giving them a place to find great values.”
“It’s been extraordinary, because this concept is so exciting, and we’re filling a void,” she said.
“When someone’s mom is going into a nursing home, it brings great peace of mind to people to find a new home for their lovely things and put money back in mom’s bank account.”
Lampe adds that it’s fun for people to treasure hunt at the store.
“We’ve even had furniture from (St. Louis Cardinals great) Ozzie Smith, who brought things here when he was redecorating and even autographed his pieces for us,” Lampe said, adding St. Louis Blues hockey players have also consigned items there.
“It’s so neat to put people together with pieces. Whenever we get something in, we’re like kids opening Christmas presents.”
Contact the store at 636. 220.9092 or visit EncoreStL.net. To consign furniture, call Encore, submit photos and descriptions of items to Photos@EncoreStL.net or make an appointment to bring items for an in person evaluation. New items are posted each week on the store’s Facebook page. Store hours are 10am to 6pm, Mondays through Fridays, 9am to 6pm on Saturdays, and 11am to 4pm on Sundays.