Antiques still selling in Wisconsin consignment store

CEDARBURG, Wisc. – Some folks in the antique trade contend that antiques simply don’t sell well any more, but the owners of an antique consignment shop in Cedarburg, Wis., have shown that belief to be false.

Known as The Consignment Store — Patricia Frances Interiors, the shop is owned by Patricia and Byron Boeck, and handles all kinds of antiques, from furniture, paintings and porcelain to textiles and silver.

Patricia Boeck ascribes much of the shop’s success to two elements: taking in a wide selection of antiques and vintage items, and a reduced-price strategy as goods stay in the shop longer.

“We try to handle the higher end of antiques and collectibles, as well as period and vintage furniture,” Boeck said. “Right now, silver sells the best. Sterling, hollowware and flatware go out of here like hotcakes.”

She noted that older paintings also are moving well, as are furniture and some textiles, like coverlets, doilies and handkerchiefs.

The other element of the success of the Consignment Store, Boeck said, is how she prices consignment items. She advises the consignor of the price she expects a piece to bring, based on her experience and similar past sales. If the consignor agrees, the item is displayed at that price for a month.

If the item is still in the shop after 30 days, the price drops 10 percent. Ten percent reductions can occur for four successive months, after which the price drops stop until the item sells or the consignor removes the item from the shop.

Boeck currently has about 500 consignors using the shop out of a total of 1,500 individuals who have consigned with her. The price reduction process is so successful in moving merchandise, she pointed out, the she still has consignors numbered 13 and 56 working with her, both of whom date back at least 20 years.

Boeck first began in the antique business in 1967 running Grandpa’s Barn Antiques out of the basement of her home. But after a local government official told her that a home-based business wasn’t allowed in her area, she rented a former general store in downtown Cedarburg.

Two moves later (in 1982) brought the Boecks to their current location on Washington Avenue in a two-story, 1,300-square-foot former candle shop.

The Consignment Shop also has made a name for itself selling antique and vintage country goods.

“Country is what we love and people bring a lot of it to us because we used to handle so much of it in the past,” Boeck said. “For about a dozen years, country antiques were dead, but now they’re making a comeback.”

Primitives are very popular, she pointed out, with pine furniture, baskets, wooden tools, dressers, chests of drawers, small cabinets and cupboards among the favorite items.

“Pine and cherry are the most sought-after country woods,” Boeck noted, “and old original-paint furniture also is highly sought after.”

She said she’s noticed a change in buying habits when it comes to furniture.

“People are buying antique and vintage furniture to use in their homes,” Boeck said. “They’re becoming more utilitarian than ever, especially looking for mahogany pieces from the 1930s and ’40s. Young folks can’t get enough of it because their grandmothers had furniture like that and they consider the pieces antiques.”

Boeck believes that being selective in the kinds of merchandise that she takes on consignment also has played a part in the success of the store.

“That’s helped us in the past five years or so when sales have been tough, particularly for those selling antiques and collectibles,” she said. “In hard times, we sell a lot more lower-end items instead of high ticket ones, but our philosophy is to fill the customer’s needs by having a big selection, otherwise you won’t sell a thing.”