With a slight toss of her head, she flipped her hair over her shoulder impatiently as she described the custom sideboard she wanted to consign at FCG. “I paid $9,000,” she said with a certain degree of indignation. “With all the supply chain troubles in the furniture market, I thought for sure you could get more for it.”
These are strange times, indeed, when customers expect to get a premium beyond what they paid for furniture they bought years ago.
The pandemic did rattle the supply chain, causing shipping delays and sparking panic among some buyers. Prices for certain items soared and some sellers did get more than they paid. For a short time, early in the pandemic, bidding wars over used gym equipment let sellers pocket a profit. Used cars continue to command very high prices.
That hasn’t been the case in the furniture market. Rising prices of new furniture and tight supplies have boosted resale prices. Still, buyers aren’t willing to overpay.
Unfortunately, it was our job let this consignor know that we couldn't meet her expectations: she would be fortunate to recoup half her investment in the sideboard.
Here are a few reasons why:
- Shopping resale is far from the experience of buying a custom-made piece of furniture. Interior designers or custom furnituremakers spend lots of time with a client to create the piece of their dreams. That experience is built into the price. Resale shoppers don’t get that kind of royal treatment.
- Buyers of custom furniture may indeed wait for weeks or months for a piece to be constructed. Waiting may create an inflated sense of specialness in the buyer’s mind; it also helps justify the costliness of hand-crafting. These are emotional concepts that don’t come into play for resale shoppers. The second hand market is more of a grab-and-go experience.
- Highly customized furniture typically has less appeal on the resale market. Unique colors or fabrics or unusual styling may have worked well in a home with a personalized design but that kind of furniture often struggles to find buyers on the resale market.
- Resale buyers are on the hunt for quality and craftsmanship. Many will appreciate the details of luxury furnishings or custom pieces but their top priority is a good price. They are first and foremost bargain hunters.
At FCG, we know our market intimately. We never want anyone to leave our stores disappointed, but we are always walking a fine line to balance the very different priorities of consignors, who want the highest price, and buyers, who are looking for a bargain. We always try to do our best to make all our customers who are buyers and sellers happy.