Thursday, May 20, 2010

Consignment First heads to new location

After 17 years near the corner of Independence Boulevard and Sam Newell Road, Consignment 1st is moving to a new, more spacious location two miles south, on the same side of Independence, just past Interstate 485.

The eclectic consignment furnishings store will hold its grand reopening at 9 a.m. Saturday, at 11416 E. Independence Blvd., in the fairly recently remodeled Matthews Plaza, also home to Ashley Furniture, Tuesday Morning and Elevation Church. The first 100 customers receive a free tote bag, while the second 100 will get a free hot dog from South 21 restaurant. In addition, former Charlotte Hornets star Muggsy Bogues will be signing autographs from noon to 2 p.m.

Husband and wife Dave and Debbie Hayes founded the business in 1987, at the corner of Kilborne Drive and Central Avenue in Charlotte, and later consolidated into a building on Independence Pointe Parkway. Consignment 1st outgrew that space about five years ago, Dave Hayes said, but spent the intervening time concentrating instead of opening new stores. There are now nine other Consignment 1st stores, including four locally - in Pineville, Lake Norman, University City and Gastonia. However, the Matthews building is for sale, and they wanted to be proactive and avoid uncertainty - hence the new location. It has about 6,000 square feet of additional retail space and much greater visibility, and will enable the store to stay open longer, too, until 8 p.m. instead of 6 p.m. The new building will also house company headquarters and a corporate training center, and has a consignment intake area double the size of that in the previous space, with an additional loading dock.

The store sells upscale furniture, accessories, antiques and collectibles, with items at all price ranges, from "practical to palatial" in a fun atmosphere, Hayes said. And it's been faring better than most others in the downturn - as have other thrift and resale stores, with consumers looking for affordable alternatives. The economy, Hayes said, has brought new customers into the store.

Though his store has seen a slowdown, Hayes said, he and his wife see trends moving in an encouraging direction now. "It's not like an explosion, but we think we've pretty much figured out what the new normal is. We're ok with it. It just took a while to get used to it."