Coyle & Herr: Chicago's First Consignment Warehouse Cutting Deals on Designer Decor
The outlet is helmed by two Chicago insiders with an eye for design and an elegant spin on the home furnishings resale market.
Have you ever pined over an Eames coffee table or the perfect pair of over-stuffed Roche-Bobois arm chairs in a glossy photo spread and wondered how you could get your hands on them – without crushing your wallet? Chances are, this home furnishing and consignment showroom can quell that designer craving. And at ridiculously reduced prices.
Consider these deals (and near steals!) discovered during a visit: A Camel Hide Ottoman from B&B Italia for $750, retails for $3,600. A hot vintage Baker Console with flat brass detailing priced at $630. A sweet pair of Burke Tulip Chairs, $110 each. How about a fully restored Milo Baughman Lounge Chair for $1,300. Or snag a love-at-first-sight Mad Men cool Yellow Modern Sofa for $800 bucks. Looking for trinkets? In April, the shop will begin offering gift certificates, starting as low as $25.
There's nothing else like this luscious enterprise in Chicago, a business the owners call a once-in-a-lifetime chance. The story has curves. With 13 years under her belt as the director of Tourism for the City of Chicago, Dorothy Coyle receives one of those fork-in-the-road proposals from auctioneer Leslie Hindman. There was an overflow of clients and stunning merchandise from auctions, distressed sales and estate liquidations in the secondary market. What about opening a consignment business? The idea was irresistible, wrapped in an impeccable reputation and a bit of pixie dust: Coyle and her business partner, architect Mary Beth Herr, met Hindman through co-worker Lois Weisberg, a Chicagoan so famous for knowing everybody best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell asked if she ruled the world in The Six Degrees of Lois Weisberg.
The team setup shop in a 12,000-square-foot warehouse on the first floor of a 1912 Spiegel Catalog building, right off 35th Street and Racine, and cinched their very first consignment through Hindman – a condo appraisal sale. They took everything and sold it all. "That's when I knew we could make this work," says Herr. This niche is resilient. With the available inventory they could double in space and size. Consumers in every income bracket want a deal.
The resale industry has annual revenue of $13 billion and does brisk business in both lean and fat economic cycles. According to consumer data compiled by America’s Research Group, about 12 to 15 percent of resale consumers shop at consignment houses like Coyle & Herr, but what sets this eclectic venue apart is an emphasis on service and accessibility.
“We really strive to give customers new ideas about how to update and use these pieces in their homes,” says Coyle. You want that 1930s walnut dresser refinished or the chair with great bones reupholstered? With pleasure. They have a deep roster of master artisans and have achieved the gold standard: repeat customers.
The warehouse is a regular haunt for Corinna Lema of River Forest, here this chilly spring morning with interior designer Kristin Taghon of Cadmium Interiors. "We've purchased six or seven items from them already," says Lema, a local celebrity as owner of the first certified Passive House in northern Illinois. "Today, we're here to buy that desk," she points to a heavy wooden midcentury piece. Most sales are just as straightforward. With some items they don't know what to expect.
“We had this sleeper sofa a client “accidentally” left on a delivery truck. I never thought it would sell," and it broke their No Sleeper Sofa rule, says Coyle. The next day a set designer from the NBC series Chicago Fire bought it on the spot. Then there's the Smoking Italian Boy painting. "It was just so odd," remembers Herr. A woman roaming through the store saw it, froze and blurted, "I think I've got to have that." They had to wrap the thing up and remove it from the floor because several people ignored the “sold” tag and started a bidding war.
Planning a trip? Expect to spend the day, including lunch. “Take pictures of the room or space,” says Coyle. Bring an open mind. You might want a lamp but leave with a rug. “And make at least five laps around the showroom,” adds Herr.
As if on cue, first-time visitor Suzanne Causton of Riverside finished a lap, beaming: "I bought something." A 1960s Higgins Studio glass tray. “Oh, they produced beautiful fused glass pieces, an alternative to blown glass,” explains the encyclopedic Herr. “Unique, one-of-a-kind.” It's a pointed reminder of an essential bit of Coyle and Herr advice: See something you love? Buy it now. They don't have another.
Coyle & Herr is located at 3031 North Rockwell Street. The showroom is open Tuesday – Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Closed Monday.