Treasure hunting

Published 5:22 pm Monday, November 3, 2008

The gentle swaying of a wooden, miniature rocking horse pricks a nostalgic part of Stephanie Desantis’ heart.

Desantis works at Consigning Interiors in Pelham.

“I love the vintage pieces,” Desantis said. “Like this toy or the old serving pieces. I also have a friend that builds train sets so there’s a little train clock that I love, and there’s even an old rocking horse. You can find stuff for $3 to $2,000.”

Mickey Hardwick of Calera jumped into the business three years ago and just recently purchased Consigning Interiors in June.

“I personally love seeing all the old and new things come together, and I love what you can find,” Hardwick said. “It’s like a treasure hunt every single day.”

People have found renewed interest in the consignment business and Denise Owens, co-owner of Southern Consignment in Alabaster, thinks she knows why.

“We’ve seen a huge rise in business in the last two months because people are shopping for bargains,” Owens said. “It used to be that only poor people went to thrift stores, but I think people are realizing what great items you can find, and it’s becoming chic.”

Owens and her sister Barbara McIntyre owned Sisters and Momma Too in Columbiana for six years before moving to their larger space in Alabaster. Owens said you can always find something personal and unique. Just last week, the shop brought in an eight-foot tall mantel from the 1800s that they acquired through an estate sale. The variety offered includes everything from true collector’s pieces to funky jewelry and décor.

“Everybody can go to Target or JCPenny and just grab something,” Hardwick said. “But here you can find something really unique.”

Some people on your Christmas lists might be picky and not appreciate a gently-used gift. But Rita Klich of Hoover, who frequents Consigning Interiors as both a vendor and customer, said her family is often surprised at her dicoveries.

“I think you can find a lot of things, especially if you really know the person you are searching for,” Klich said. “I’ve dragged my daughter to every antique store we could find and so of course she doesn’t love it like I do. When she got ready to go to college, though, we found her favorite piece of furniture right here.”

Stores like Hardwick’s Consigning Interiors and Owens’ Southern Consignment offer a variety of shopping experiences by providing multiple vendors who bring in items, as well as consignment and estate pieces. With everyone pinching pennies, it just might be the perfect place to scratch a few names off your list this holiday season and hit the jack-pot on really unique gifts.