With a good eye, you can find some good classic furniture that's not abused. With a little work, your piece can be like new to you.
Good places to start your search include flea markets, many thrift shops, garage and estate sales, Craigslist, classified ads in the Post-Bulletin, and consignment shops such as Kismet, in Rochester.
There, owner Penny Bracken tells, "I think that people enjoy coming to Kismet as each piece from the past carries it own history and to each person it speaks it own message. For many it is like walking down memory lane, as pieces remind them of days gone by."
Antique shops are excellent places to search. Rick and Melissa Scott, owners of Cherished Antiques, Kasson, opened the store on April 16, 2010.
"Since Rick and I loved going to auctions and we noticed many nice, used furniture pieces being sold, and with Rick's dad asking if there was something that we could do with the building he had bought in Kasson, we opened an antique shop," Melissa Scott said. "It didn't take long for us to come up with the idea of used furniture. We have always considered our antiques and collections to be our cherished items. We think others do think the same way. Our motto is "Giving your cherished items a new loving home."
After your home and car, your furniture can be a major expense, so buying used furniture can save big dollars while giving your home or apartment a one-of-a-kind look. Furniture from discount stores may be new, but sometimes can cost more than what you'd pay for used.
Older pieces of furniture have more of a tendency to be solidly made,and with the return of the 1930s to 1965 (termed mid-century) modernism furniture, these pieces are like a house or a car in that you need to consider the resale value.
"The value and quality of antiques speaks for itself," Bracken said. "To imagine a piece of furniture that is 100 years old and still in wonderful condition is amazing in our disposal throwaway lifestyle of today. I find that customers love to add that unique special piece to their home. It is very easy to combine an antique piece into a contemporary lifestyle.
"I encourage people to be creative and go with their feelings if they like a piece," Bracken said. "I display and merchandise in many varied ways to show customers how fun it can be to combine styles."
'Clean, modern look'
An antique shop can be like a consignment shop, as some have many furniture and display items made available not only by the store owner, but consignment vendors as well.
The Scotts' love of antique furniture and collectibles has grown. Melissa Scott said, "We have roughly 11,000 square feet for displaying our items, 12 vendors that rent booths, a loading dock and a refinishing/repurposing area. We try and save the antique furniture that comes in by refinishing it. Sometimes it can't be saved so we have painted a few dresser and desks to bring them back to life."
According to Bracken, "My current passion, when I find the time to go treasure hunting, is 1950s and '60s stuff. Thirty or more years ago, I had no desire for this era, but now it represents a modern, kitschy element that appeals to the younger customers. Mid-century furniture has a clean, modern look that is further enhanced by popular TV shows like Mad Men."
Scott says she seeks that same look, making "an antique wardrobe into a kitchen cupboard, complete with chalkboard painted door; an antique table into a beautiful bench; a commode that was missing a door into a colorful kitchen cabinet; and an antique radio cabinet into a bar.
Currently, we are working on making old beautiful headboards into benches."
Turning the tables
Mersman tables have generated considerable buyer interest, Scott and Bracken say.
"We have had a few Mersman and mid-century furniture pieces through the store," Scott said. "We have a large following of customers from the Twin Cities for those items. They don't seem to last too long around here."
Bracken said, "We do carry Mersman tables from time to time. I had the lyre table and a triangle table here last week. Occasional tables are always good sellers here at Kismet because everyone can use a fairly priced side table. It is amazing the range of styles that the company produced over the years, and to realize how many homes they have adorned. The usual price range for us is $40 to $168."
That's actually not far from the original price. Keepin mind that Mersman products can be found almost anywhere. In spite of their excellent construction and sometimes innovative styling, Mersman tables today have little collector's value due to Baby Boomers who are now downsizing. That means the market is flooded with them.
Mid-century modern style is still the hottest style, but if top-tier furniture is not within your price range, shop around.
"Ourstore is always changing with items that are coming and going almost every day," Scott said. "We are just down-to-earth people that are trying to fill a need for the working people. We have customers from all over the southeast, south central MN, Twin Cities area, Wisconsin and Iowa."
Bracken added, "I get satisfaction and reward that Kismet is helping people move things through their lives while providing value and fun in the process. The years have gone by like the blink of the eye, yet the relationships and friends I have made will last a lifetime."