“We are sorry we cannot help you this time…”
I find myself saying this dozens of times a week to potential consignors. It’s very frustrating for our potential Consignors but there is so much furniture out there that needs a new home that has very little, if any value. There is simply no demand for it. Many people get frustrated, angry and upset when they find out we cannot take their furniture and we empathize with their feelings. Many people are trying to liquidate a relative’s estate, or they are downsizing and starting a new chapter in their lives and want the process of selling their furniture and treasures to be simple and straight forward. Sometimes it is but many times people are left scrambling to find a new home for their items.
Why do seemingly high quality, solid wood and excellent condition furniture pieces have little to no value in today’s marketplace? There are several reasons:
Here in Vancouver many people are cashing in on their homes that they have owned for decades to move to a smaller town perhaps on Vancouver Island or in the Okanagan or to a townhome or apartment. So many people are doing this right now that most of the calls we receive about potential furniture consignment are related to people downsizing.
Canada’s Ageing Population
It’s a fact; Canada’s population is ageing and it has many implications one of which is people are passing away or going into care and leaving estates that need to be liquidated. Estate liquidation is the second most common reason people call us to consign their goods. This is a difficult and stressful process for the family members who need to get rid of a loved ones or friend’s personal possessions. There is so much sentimental value placed on many objects which unfortunately has no monetary value in the resale marketplace. There is also pride, especially if someone worked hard to save the money to purchase their fine dining suite or spent years saving to be able to purchase pieces of a specific pattern of china to add to their collection. It can be awful to hear that these items you have spent years scrimping and saving for and that had pride of place in your have no value and/or no one wants them.
Changing Trends and Styles
Trends and styles come and go but never before have trends changed as quickly as they do now with our global marketplace, 24/7 news cycle and social media with Instagram and Pinterest leading the way for taste makers and trendsetters. Before, it may have taken a couple of years for a trend to make its way around the globe but now it is overnight and before you know it, that trend has been replaced with yet another trend. No wonder consumerism is rampant and people’s satisfaction with their “stuff” is at an all time low. Keeping up with the Jones’ has never been harder. For the past several years and continuing today, interior design trends have mostly steered toward contemporary and modern and for a while mid-century modern (Danish & Scandinavian designed furniture from 1950-1960’s) was hot, hot, hot until every big box retailer started reproducing these pieces for cheap and saturated the market and pop! There goes the bubble – again.
“Brown furniture,” mostly walnut and mahogany from the first half of the 20th century just isn’t in demand and does not go well with today’s contemporary home builds, glass and concrete condos and high-end, polished townhomes.
Functional and Practical Obsolescence
Sorry to pop in the technical terms but there are many pieces of furniture that have outlived their useful life just as your 6-month old iPhone seems to be obsolete in well, 6 months time. Furniture pieces such as large display cabinet (buffets and hutches as some call them) are too large for most new builds and with the busy lives people lead today, people just don’t have the need for fine china, silver plate and crystal which is typically what was displayed in these pieces. Of course many people can’t fathom hand washing fine objects either. There just isn’t the time or interest. TV armoires were all the rage in the 80’s, 90’s and early 2000’s when large boxy TV’s and the first flat screens were kept enclosed when not in use in a beautiful large piece of furniture purpose built. With the ever-changing digital TV growth we are seeing, people want their TV’s mounted and/or hung from the wall or sitting on media consoles which house all of the many components needed for gaming, streaming and recording. Donation places won’t even take TV armoires anymore. They are an albatross. This is particularly hard to swallow if you spent thousands on one of these pieces which many people did. We wish more people would re-purpose them with shelves to make them suitable for linen and clothing storage but if it’s not ready to go right off the floor, people are not interested. Our instant gratification society is dulling creativity and people’s desire to upcycle fine furniture pieces.
It’s best not to take it personally. Your items not being valued by today’s market place does not mean you do not have good taste or that you made a mistake purchasing them. It’s just not what the market wants right now. Consignment Canada does our best to help you either sell your furniture and home wares and if we can’t help we give you resources such as auction houses, donation facilities and online marketplaces that may be able to help you get rid of these items but sometimes, there is no where for them to go except the landfill.
Kids today (or anyone from 18-45) just don’t want these pieces for many of the reasons above. Experiences make better memories than stuff for many people these days and we certainly don’t begrudge that. If you have an estate to liquidate or need to downsize, please don’t hesitate to send us photos of your high quality, undamaged and clean furniture and home accessories for our professional opinion on whether we believe they are saleable and for what value.
Please know how much we appreciate you taking the time to email us photos of your items and for thinking of Consignment Canada. We will always do our best to help you in any way we can.