As at the start of all great business ideas, Patricia Espinosa realized she was onto something when she couldn’t find it anywhere else in the market. Nearly a decade ago, a friend who sold furniture with an online auction company where each item starts at a dollar asked Espinosa if she wanted to participate, knowing Espinosa didn’t have a full house. many things but rather some beautiful pieces.
But Espinosa — a 20-year veteran of the home furnishings and apparel industries, who previously worked in business strategy, management, sales and merchandising — knew the value of high-end homewares that she had in her hands, and it wasn’t $1. She soon realized that there was a shortage in the market of individual private sellers looking for a higher level of service. In 2014, she softly pitched the idea: a localized version of the premium resale service, which she called The Local Vault.
“Our first customer was a friend of mine who had things in stock that had gathered dust, and she was finally ready to part with her items. From there came more friends and friends of friends,” explains Espinosa, “Honestly, the demand was so high that people quickly discovered our top-notch service and came to call us.”
Courtesy of Local Vault
The Local Vault’s main goal is to offer support from start to finish of the resale process, taking over on behalf of its sellers to save them time and ensure their luxury items are processed. as such. In practice, the sales journey begins with an approval process, where all items that shippers hope to sell on the site are evaluated by the company’s senior curator, who decides whether or not the pieces are suitable for The Local Vault. . The platform is strictly focused on high-end home furnishings, a key standard to hold the attention of its designer clientele, which generates a quarter of the platform’s sales.
According to Espinosa, a brand like RH would represent the starting price for the caliber of items accepted on the platform. Names like Donghia, Rose Tarlow Melrose House and George Smith are also in the safe zone, although retail brands like Ethan Allen, Pottery Barn and Crate & Barrel wouldn’t make the cut. “I always joke that we don’t discriminate by age, we discriminate by beauty,” says Espinosa. “It could be designer brands, vintage pieces, antiques, artwork, lighting, rugs – it just has to be really nice and in good condition.”
Once the Senior Curator has given approval, The Local Vault sends an agent out into the field to view the item in person and take measurements and photos for it to be listed on the site. The team then professionally evaluates the piece based on product comparisons and the site’s own historical data. Once on the site, buyers must make an offer of at least 70% of the listed cost, which sellers can then accept, counter or decline. While the item is on sale, shippers have the option of keeping a piece in their home or storing it in The Local Vault’s warehouse, where potential buyers can schedule a visit to view a piece in person or simply browse current offers. There, buyers can also have a room redone or reupholstered by one of The Local Vault’s in-house vendors.
The past two years have proven to be transformative for the company, which has seen its business triple as the pandemic accelerated the shift to second-hand shopping and e-commerce. The platform’s localized angle has also given it an added advantage, as supply chain issues continue to cause shipping and delivery issues, creating frustration among owners and further lengthening lead times. project for designers.
As the company strives to woo its designer clientele, Espinosa says the relationship is a two-way street. She views designers as integral to the growth of The Local Vaults and a key force in guiding the direction of its expansion. Recently, the business has moved beyond the New York tri-state area and into the new Boston markets; Atlanta; Palm Beach, Florida; Los Angeles and San Francisco – each design hubs in their own right and locations chosen after designers wanted to ship pieces through the platform.
“Designers are kind of like the gateway for us: they connect us to the vendors. The best inventory we get usually comes from a designer through their client, so we’re going to go where the design communities are strong,” says Espinosa.
Courtesy of Local Vault
It’s the platform’s first major step since its recent period of rapid growth, and for Espinosa, it’s a step in the right direction towards what it sees as the future of The Local Vault. “One of the things we’ve seen is that the most satisfied customers are those who are local and buy from local sellers. It’s cheaper, it’s immediate, and they can shop knowing they’re reducing their carbon footprint,” says Espinosa. “Our vision for the company is to become a national brand with a local presence, creating a network of local communities.”
In another attempt to make that happen, Espinosa already has a few strategies in the works to maximize the company’s presence in design circles. A key feature of the site is the Tastemakers section, where different designers are periodically featured on the website’s homepage, along with an interview and a collection they’ve curated based on the site’s current offerings. The series is led by The Local Vault’s liaison designer Jennifer Matthewsthe old design title editor like Luxury Interiors + Design and the Cottages & Gardens media group, which has now spoken to a venerable list of design icons for the site – designers like Meg Braff, Ariel Okin, Alexa Hampton and, more recently, design editor and creative consultant Caroline Englefield.
For Espinosa, the series is another step in establishing The Local Vault as a destination for designers and for those who look to designers for style inspiration – a playbook that could help the company to carve out a real niche in furniture resale circles. .
Homepage image: Inside The Local Vault warehouse. | Courtesy of Local Vault