Consignment store takes Courage
Courage Consignment & Design carries furniture, rugs, art, mirrors, lamps, light fixtures and other decorative and antique accessories. | JACKIE PILOSSOPH~For Sun-Times Media
Courage Consignments & Design
3632 Lake Ave.
Updated: January 15, 2013 1:54PM
WILMETTE — For the past 25 years, it’s been all mergers and acquisitions for investment banker, Jay Courage.
Yet, seven months ago, Courage made the move from big business to consignment store owner.
Courage and his wife, Amy, an interior designer, opened Courage Consignments & Design, which carries furniture, rugs, art, mirrors, lamps, light fixtures and other decorative and antique accessories.
“I’ve always had an interest in antiques and collecting and design,” said Courage, who with his wife and two children moved to Wilmette a year and a half ago from Connecticut. “This is a way for me to enjoy my artistic side.”
There were a lot of antique consignment shops in the area where they used to live, and both he and Amy were surprised at how few there were on the North Shore.
“We chose Wilmette because we saw a gap in the market,” said Courage, who holds an MBA from the University of Michigan. “There really was nothing like this in Evanston, Wilmette or Winnetka.”
Courage Consignments works with dozens of consigners, who either email photos of big pieces, or bring in smaller items for an estimate. If a contract is signed, Courage arranges for pick up, which usually costs the consigner about $50.
Consigners enter a four-month contract and get paid 50 percent of the sale price for each item. If an item hasn’t sold after the four months, the consigner has three options: take the piece back, donate the item to a charity or talk with Courage about extending the contract.
Erin Austin is an interior designer and a transitional consultant, who often recommends Courage Consignments to clients who are moving.
“When I go into a project, I have deadlines, and sometimes the client and I need to decide what furniture is going and what furniture they want to sell,” she said, “Jay really always comes through. He’s able to differentiate what will sell and what we should donate.”
In addition to consigners, there’s the customer end of the business. Courage said shoppers at Courage Consignments are a combination of interior decorators and home owners.
“We get people who are furnishing their first home, who want décor that has a little more character than something new from a big retailer,” he said. “And a lot of people stop by periodically, just to see if there’s anything new or interesting. They may not even need anything.”
“Their store is ever changing,” Austin said. “They have traditional furniture, but they also have contemporary. Jay and Amy know their furniture.”
“I was blown away by the quality of the consignments,” said Eliza Bailey, who has purchased chairs, a rug, a leather partner’s desk and etched glass wear from the store. “They have great taste.”
Bailey, who lives in Northfield, but grew up in New England said she is very familiar with 17th, 18th and 19th century home furnishings.
“When I first went into their shop, I realized they had a fine eye and the ability to pull together disparate elements from different time periods for a beautiful vision,” she said. “They help create livable space that’s warm and rich and looks as though the pieces have been in your family forever.”
Prices at Courage Consignments are about one-third the cost of retail, and most of the furniture ranges in price from $200-$800.
“I love the character of so many of these pieces,” said Courage, “And I like seeing people put this beautiful furniture in their homes.”