Northern Nevada consignment businesses seeing influx of inventory
RENO, Nev. — When the coronavirus first settled into Nevada, Remington Rock, co-owner and operator of Consign Furniture in South Reno, saw a spike in people hauling in used furnishings.
“When the pandemic first started, we definitely saw an influx of furniture coming in,” said Rock, noting the store went from averaging 1,400 new furnishings a month to 1,800 during April and May. “Because a lot more people were at home and noticing, hey, we’ve had this sofa for so long, let’s move on and trade this out.”
And even though customers were not allowed in the store for nearly two months due to the state shutdown of so-called nonessential businesses, Consign Furniture’s sales remained strong.
“We probably had about a 10% uptick in sales for the first couple months and then it kind of flattened to normal business,” Rock told the NNBW in mid-September. “Since about June, everything has flattened. We haven’t seen a dip at all, we’ve just gone back to our normal revenues.”
The steady sales, Rock said, can be attributed to buyers using the Consign Furniture’s ecommerce store, which launched in January, for curbside pick-ups at the company’s storefront at 6865 Sierra Center Parkway.
Rock noted that online sales were “very slow going” for the first two and a half months of the year. Since mid-March, however, the ecommerce store has brought in anywhere from $25,000 to $35,000 in revenue each month.
Further illustrating the online demand, the number of visitors to its online store grew from 150,000 to 750,000 over a six-month span, he said.
“Our ecommerce store really took off, so that’s brought a lot more revenue to the bottom line,” said Rock, adding that the store’s revenue is about 6% up year-over-year. “I’m hard-pressed to say (the revenue growth is) due to COVID, but I’m hard-pressed to say it’s due to other factors, as well. I haven’t had enough time to judge. I like to go over two fiscal quarters to see if it’s just a trend or something that’s going to stick.”
Nevertheless, Rock said that he feels consignment and thrift businesses will continue to see steady business due to the economic uncertainty both the pandemic and the upcoming election brings.
“People are trying to save money, especially those who are unemployed,” he added.
Blythe Anderson, co-owner of Labels Consignment Boutique, a designer clothing retail store in downtown Reno, feels the same way.
She attributes steady secondhand shopping sales amid the pandemic to people not only wanting to limit their expenses, but also reduce their carbon footprint.
“I think people are becoming more green, as well,” Anderson said. “They like the idea of purchasing something secondhand. I’ve had more customers say they aren’t buying anything new for a year.”
Like Consign Furniture, Labels has seen an increased flow of items brought in for resale.
“With the lockdown, people were really cleaning their closets and stuff, so we’ve had an influx of amazing merchandise coming in,” Anderson said.
She added that the store sprays down each item and isolates it for three days before putting it on the rack.
Still, Anderson said foot traffic has slowed since reopening the store in May, a fact she chalks up to people still being afraid to shop in person. Moreover, the lack of tourists funneling into Reno-Tahoe to gamble or recreate because of COVID is impacting sales.
“We get a lot of business from tourism, and tourism and conventions are kind of at a halt,” she added.
The changing of the season, however, has brought more local and out-of-state shoppers out of their homes.
“In August, it really started to pick up,” Anderson said. “I think some of it is the change of the season and people were ready to get out and do a little bit of retail therapy.
“And because everything is locked down in California, we have had an influx of California shoppers.”
Washoe County also saw a strong month with $843 million in taxable sales, up 11% from the $759 million posted a year ago.