By Kathleen Schiop | September 14
“The heart is in the home,” so the saying goes, and for most of us, our homes are our refuge from the stress and anxieties of the everyday world, so naturally we want our home to be a comfortable and beautiful place where we can relax. And, both new and established homeowners can find artistic and budgetary challenges to furnishing and accessorizing their homes, and that is where The Room Exchange, located in the Willow Bend Towne Centre Plaza (at the corner of SR 54 and Collier Pkwy. in Lutz (five miles west of Bruce B. Downs Blvd.) can help.
The Room Exchange, a consignment furniture store, has been assisting customers with home furnishings for seven years, the first three at the Village Lake Shopping Center on U.S. 41 in Land O’Lakes, and for the past four at its current location.
The Room Exchange sells a wide range of furniture and accessories consigned from private individuals and from builders’ model homes. Voted the 2011 Gold Winner for Best Consignment Store & Furniture Store in East & Central Pasco by the Media General Publications Florida Publishing Group, The Room Exchange represents quality furniture and service to its customers, some of whom are both selling and buying their furniture and “knickknacks” at the store.
Courtney Stone, the charismatic owner of The Room Exchange, says he comes by his chosen profession honestly.
“My dad has a store in Ocala called Bargains and Treasures,” he says, “and I have pretty much spent the last ten years in this business. You’re not going to get rich doing this, but I just love it.”
Two years after opening the store, Courtney was joined by wife Lesley¸ a former USF librarian who eventually left her job to work full time at the store.
“We’re here all the time,” he laughs. “It’s definitely a family business.”
How It Works…For You!
So how does furniture consignment work? The Room Exchange sets the price of the item, based on the track record for selling of other similar items at the store. The consignment period is for 120 days and the business takes 50 percent of the sale, with the seller taking the other 50 percent. (Please note that some consignment stores take a more advantageous, for them, 60-40 split of consignment proceeds.) Every 30 days that the item doesn’t sell, The Room Exchange reduces the selling price by 10 percent from its original price. And, if the item goes the full 120 days without selling, it is marked half off.
“We have an average turnaround on a sale of about three weeks, and almost 90 percent of everything in the store sells within the first month, so our inventory changes constantly,” explains Courtney. “We sell a lot of sofas, coffee tables, and knickknacks (picture frames, small lamps, candlesticks and more), but there are some things we don’t take, such as fine china. So, before you consign, check our website (TheRoomExchangeOnline.com) to see what we do and don’t accept.”
He adds that The Room Exchange has taken in whole houses or apartments full of furnishings, “if the furniture and accessories meets our criteria, and of course, the model homes come in periodically. If an estate doesn’t meet our criteria, we refer the families to appropriate vendors who can help them.”
The store, a former Publix supermarket in the plaza, consists of 12,500 square feet, and resembles a retail furniture store, but without the sticker shock. The furniture and accessories are arranged in tasteful and appealing “vignettes” by Michele, the store’s part-time interior decorator, one of the ten full- and part-time employees who work at The Room Exchange.
“Business is really good,” says Courtney. “We have some wonderful regular consigners and customers who come in here every day, but we also do pickup and delivery and we even offer free pickup within 15 miles of the store, which is great for the customer who can’t bring everything down.”
He adds that the pickups are so popular that, “Right now, we’re on a six-week waiting period, so it’s good to plan ahead if you have a large amount of items — or just a few larger items to consign.” Delivery of your furniture purchases also is available, for a fee.
“Most of our consignments come to us from a 15-mile radius, people who live in New Tampa, Wesley Chapel, Lutz, Land O’Lakes and Carrollwood,” he says. “And we do have quite a few people who bring in our daily limit of 30 items on a regular basis. (Note-Consignments are accepted at The Room Exchange Tuesday-Saturday only). They go out to garage sales and bring in things to consign and do very well. If I didn’t own this business, I might become a consigner myself, because I see some of the checks we pay out to these people.”
Julie, a customer from Lutz, couldn’t say enough good things about The Room Exchange. “I’ve been following the store ever since they started, and visit at least two to three times a week, just to see what they have in stock. It’s a great place to shop, and the inventory changes practically daily. Everything is reasonably priced and the staff is so friendly and nice, they’ve practically become my second family.”
Pressed for time? Check out TheRoom ExchangeOnline.com to see some of the latest furniture available at the showroom. The website even updates the pricing of each item, so you know exactly what an item will cost. In addition, take a look at the site’s beautiful blog “Everyday Spaces” for fabulous ideas about decorating with your new treasures. Of course, the website cannot possibly include all of the large and ever-changing inventory at The Room Exchange, so you are encouraged to come and view the showroom during store hours. Whether you need one piece of furniture, or a whole house-full, The Room Exchange offers a variety of different styles to meet your decorating needs. Don’t see what you want? The store also offers an affordable custom design service for those hard-to-furnish rooms in your home.
Nora, a customer from Wesley Chapel, raves, “About 60 percent of my home has been furnished by The Room Exchange. Every room in my house has something from there, and I was able to use the personalized decorating service when I needed help. They are kind, fun, easygoing people and their customer service is excellent.”
When not at the store, owners Courtney Stone and his wife Lesley spend time running and swimming and spending time with their daughter Alyssa, who is finishing up her last year of nursing school at Florida Gulf Coast University in Ft. Myers.
For more information, please visit TheRoomExchangeonline.com or call 909-2411. The Room Exchange is located in the Willow Bend Towne Centre, at 23046 SR 54 in Lutz (next to LA Fitness). The store is open Mon.– Sat., 10 a.m.-7 p.m., and noon- 5 p.m. on Sunday. Consignments are ONLY received Tues.-Sat., 11 a.m.-6 p.m.