E-Commerce, Antiques and Consignment
Originally from Vail, Colorado, Bettina Whiteford of BW Home has an affinity for beautiful, quality furniture and antiques, attributed to her experience as a gift and home furnishings buyer for Gorsuch Ltd, a high-end store with European and Alpine influence in Vail, Colorado. She started consigning furniture serendipitously while helping her mother downsize. Whiteford found boxes of china, crystal and other valuables so she started an eBay store. From there, she contacted designers with storage units full of unused items, eventually going to clients’ homes to photograph larger pieces then selling them online as well. One of her first big clients moved so Whiteford had enough inventory to open a showroom. BW Home has since outgrown the original showroom and is presently searching the Morena Boulevard area for a large space that accommodates the e-commerce business and a showroom.
Where do you find your product?
Most of our items come to us from clients who are downsizing or redecorating their homes. They have spent their lives collecting beautiful pieces that can’t transition into their new surroundings. Many clients are word of mouth from current and previous clients happy with the return they get from us. We pride ourselves on sending out checks that will make our consignors happy they came to us.
Has your customer base expanded with your online presence?
Yes, definitely. We have followers on Chairish, Houzz, Ruby Lane, eBay and our own website that grows exponentially every week, Plus a social media following on Instagram (@bwhome) and Facebook (BW Home – @bettinawhitefordhome).
Tell us something about your shopper, who is buying online?
It varies so greatly because of our diverse inventory that is constantly changing, rather than being a store with a certain look or style. It never ceases to amaze me where we ship items and who is buying them. Of course, with online sales, there is a lot of anonymity, which aside from answering buyers’ questions and helping arrange items to be shipped, makes it difficult to tell who the buyer is really. It is interesting, however, that a lot of our more traditional items are being shipped to the south and the east coast, where the style is still more appreciated.
With e-commerce comes the need for shipping. How do you ship your product?
It was a large learning curve in the beginning. Especially since all of our items are one of a kind and cannot be replaced if damaged in transit. Certain items can go Fed-Ex or UPS, however, large pieces or furniture or mirrors need to go White Glove. We have many sources, but the most important factor is finding shipping solutions that don’t make it cost prohibitive to the buyer. In the age of “free shipping” it has been challenging to compete with that since none of our items can be offered as such due to the variation in sizes and weights.
With online antiques do you need to authenticate your product?
Sometimes we will have provenance on certain pieces. Other times, we have to do a vast amount of research to find the history of a piece (i.e silver hallmarks, china back stamps, etc). Artwork is especially tricky to value and even when accompanied with appraisals, we have learned that many appraisals are written to make the owners happy, but have little to do with a realistic market value.