Columbus, Ohio USA
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anew turns 10
by Jennifer Hambrick
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© Photo Gus Brunsman III
Linda Franz displays a work of Chicago artist Judith Roth.
In the windows of anew: Fine Consignment Furnishings, there’s a table bearing a gourd painted with the images of brightly colored native American women, a traditional-looking sofa with elegant two-tone white upholstery and a large amethyst formation fit for Cher’s boudoir. If these items don’t appeal to you, step inside the shop and wind through the labyrinth of fine furnishings, antiques, original artwork, Oriental rugs and other home décor pieces. It’s a good bet something has your name on it.
In the ten years that Linda Franz has owned and managed her consignment shop at the corner of High and Russell, she’s seen pieces catering to all tastes and coming from all corners of the world.
“I specialize in pieces that you wouldn’t see or find in other venues,” Franz said. “I have expanded to art and oriental rugs and chandeliers and glassware and just about everything else you can think of. But the emphasis is on not trying to take ordinary pieces that you could find, and I think my customers come to me to look for something that’s different.”
And different is what anéw does best. Franz says a lot of quirky pieces have crossed her path in her many years of business. Recently, a large papier-mâché bull’s head, complete with long horns, made its way into – and out of – her shop.
“A man saw it at Gallery Hop and came back for it,” Franz said. “It sold.”
She also recalls selling a number of stuffed and mounted animal heads, including that of a trout. There was also an unmounted stuffed cobra that managed to find a home.
“That piece made me nervous,” Franz said. “I kept thinking it was going to come alive.”
Even though an item may seem like a long shot to some, Franz takes it in on the principle that one man’s trash truly is another man’s treasure.
“I’ve been doing this a long time and you cannot predict what someone will find wonderful,” Franz said.
Take the rocking chair made out of Alaskan Eskimo snowshoes, for example. A light blonde wooden frame stabilizes the bottom and back of the chair, an intricate mesh of animal hide strands. Or the large mirror complete with stained glass inlay in an Art Deco floral motif.
Though the items Franz takes in on consignment vary widely in style, she says they all have one thing in common: quality.
“I buy pieces that people can take right into their homes,” Franz said. “I sold a Baker sofa that had silk upholstery and was probably from the 1960s. A young couple bought it because they recognized the quality of the furniture and knew they would be able to reupholster it over and over again for a lifetime,” Franz said.
Because a lifetime is a journey, it can take people to places far removed from anywhere they might have expected to go. Franz says the consignment business can pick up the things people must sometimes leave behind when circumstances change.
“It’s a great business because it provides a service,” Franz said. “We’re in a huge transitional era – people are moving all the time. What do they do with the goods they don’t want to take with them? Usually it’s very high-quality furniture and things that they don’t want just to donate. Also, people are living longer and longer and they’re forced to downsize. I have one woman who’s been with me for 7-1/2 years. She’s now in her 90s. Divorce enters into it, too. There are always emotional attachments to pieces. So the client base is very diversified.”
Anéw draws Columbus or Short North residents looking for that unique piece of furniture for their homes as well as art collectors seeking original pieces. An art collector since the age of 17, when she bought her first piece, Franz regularly sells work by artists such as Chicago’s Judith Roth and Ohio artists Angela Hamilton and Kevin Clarke. Pieces by Columbus folk artist Smoky Brown regularly find their way to anéw.
“Anéw gives artists a venue that’s not really a gallery situation but rather an eclectic mix of things, and their artwork can really stand out,” Franz said.
And working with such an eclectic mix of artwork and antique furnishings keeps her on her toes.
“I like to be knowledgeable enough about a piece to tell customers about it,” Franz said. “Pieces always challenge me. And oriental rugs are an entity unto themselves. That’s really tough. I have a cadre of collectors – not dealers – whom I can call and say, ‘Can you come in here and look at this rug?’ and they’ll help me with that. So if you don’t know about an item, you ask and you get help. I’ve learned a great deal through this business.”
Sometimes an item will tell its own story.
“I once sold a clock and on the inside was its complete history from 1837 forward: every owner, written in beautiful handwriting, photographs of people and a narrative about how the piece moved throughout Pennsylvania and ended up in Columbus, Ohio,” Franz said.
After ten years in business, Franz says she doesn’t go looking for objects to consign. Rather, they find her.
“I’ve been in business long enough that people sort of know what I’m about, and I’m very fortunate that pieces come to me,” Franz said. “So, it’s not a matter of my having to look for things. I really don’t actively seek anything out.”
HOW DOES IT WORK?
• anéw picks up the item(s) at no cost to the consigner
• Consigner and anéw agree on a sale price – or the consigner allows anéw to set the price
• Contract is read and signed
TERMS OF CONTRACT
• Item is consigned for 120 days
• One markdown of 20% is given – usually after 30 days
• Consigner receives 60% of the sale price if the item sells
IF THE ITEM DOESN’T SELL
• Pick up the item
• Donate the item to charity (anéw uses Childhood League Center, a 501c3 organization), and you receive a tax deduction slip for that donation
• Extend the contract at a reduced price level
So how does it work? Franz says she aims to provide good service to her clients who, after all, supply her with the merchandise she sells. Consigners agree to a 120-day consignment period and receive 60 per cent of the sale price when the piece sells. Franz says the industry standard is 50 per cent.
“I just started out giving the consigner that 10 per cent more and I’ve never changed,” Franz said. “I feel like I’m providing a service, but they own the goods so they deserve that little bit more.”
Franz has no plans to expand anéw beyond the Short North and Columbus. The business that was for many years her dream, she says, has been a “wonderful journey,” like walking through her treasure trove of merchandise.
“A lot of people say it reminds them of a store in New York City where chests are stacked high and you have to hunt for the piece you want. And that’s a fun journey,” Franz said. “You don’t walk into an open space and see artwork on the wall, and you have time to study. I think it’s the feel and the atmosphere that defines the approach.”
Perhaps the most amazing thing about anéw’s hodgepodge showroom is that it somehow has a sense of style that works. Imagine wabi-sabi meets Shabby Chic. The towers of artwork, chairs, and tables are piled casually and slightly over-cluttered, but floods of light from the ample glass storefront windows illuminate the showroom with an open, airy glow. Franz’s friendly four-year-old Shih Tzu Henry makes the place feel more like the family room than the attic.
But what about that old set of china collecting dust in your attic? Franz might be able to find a new home for it. And if there’s an object you can’t find, you might just find it at anéw.
anéw: Fine Consignment Furnishings, Linda Franz, 650 North High Street (Corner of High and Russell) 614-228-1808
2005 Short North Gazette, Columbus, Ohio. All Rights Reserved.