Pieces to be treasured not trashed
by Becky Dumais & Charlotte Ottaway
You can’t argue with the excitement many people experience when they find a unique item at a bargain price in an antique store or garage sale. That thrill may even extend to suddenly stopping the car to pick something up off the side of the road (yes, it happens). “One woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure,” says Michelle Clayton-Wood, owner of Whatnot’s Gift Shop in Newmarket, which specializes in selling repurposed rustic décor. “My mission is to keep our beautiful vintage items and antiques from going into landfills,” she says. “Why throw out a perfectly good piece just because you don’t like the colour? You can always re-purpose.”
With the diverse range of local vintage and consignment shops, coupled with the ease with which you can sell unwanted stuff on social media, it’s easier than ever to find, sell or upcycle that perfect piece with the perfect patina. “I look for items that are of good quality, made with craftsmanship and a little bit of attitude,” says Clayton-Wood. “Then I’ll apply a coat of my Fusion Mineral Paint and distress it a bit. Or I’ll repurpose – like a vintage ironing board [I acquired], which will make a great pop-up bar for someone who is space conscious.”
Karla Wilson, owner of Haven in Newmarket, is also passionate about recognizing and showcasing the quality of craftsmanship from decades past. She takes pride in having “something for everyone,” from teenagers to customers in their 80s. “We have a lot of small offerings and furniture pieces – fine, mid-century pieces people love because they were so well made back then,” says Wilson, who opened the store nine years ago this November.
“We gravitate to Danish or Scandinavian furniture, whether it’s walnut, teak, or rosewood,” she says. The store features beautiful, high-end dining
tables, as well as items like cantilever chairs from the 60s, or a chrome and acrylic director’s chair from the 70s. Wilson is particularly fond of the way the designs of the 50s and 60s have transitioned through the years and are “still as contemporary now as they were then.”
Haven also sells a wide-range of eclectic and vintage accessories and décor. “It’s really your small accent pieces that make the room,” she says, describing the cashmere, handmade toss cushions that add a perfect pop of colour to any neutral palette.
And while many consider the shopping to be the best part, much of it wouldn’t be possible without the homeowners who are looking to downsize, a process that requires selling their high-quality family heirlooms. Maureen Barnes, owner of The Millionaire’s Daughter, has been in the consignment business for eight years now, with store locations in Hamilton, Oakville, Aurora and Kitchener. “Each store is really different,” she says. “I thought the Aurora store was going to be more modern furniture, but it’s turned out to be more vintage and eclectic.”
Furniture owners can send photos of their pieces to The Millionaire’s Daughter, which are then considered for consignment. “We turn away more than we take,” says Barnes. Still, the business sells seven homes worth of furniture each week, and the high turnover allows for new furniture to arrive daily.
This is how The Millionaire’s Daughter guarantees the high quality furniture and accessories that decorate each location. The items are also listed online, and when sold the consigner receives 50 percent of the final price. “You can make good money on consignment if you have a lot of furniture, but a lot of people like consignment because it’s offering your products to other people, and knowing they’re going to a good home,” says Barnes. “When you start getting into this business, you realize people are quite emotionally tied to their items.”
And while The Millionaire’s Daughter calls it vintage shopping rather than antiquing, customers love hearing about the stories behind the pieces they buy. “They want to know where it came from, and what the story behind it was,” says Barnes. When purchased and placed in their new home, the vintage and antique pieces once again become conversation starters, and their stories live on.
The Millionaire’s Daughter, Aurora
Whatnot’s Gift Shop
Queensville Antique Mall