“Why did you name your store Curate?” my grandmother asked me. I was a little startled because she’s the one who won the Iowa state spelling bee in 1937 .. I guess I assume that if you know how to spell something, you also know the definition of the word you are spelling. She’s really sharp for 93 years old and didn’t miss a beat. “Yes, I know what the word means in general, but what does it mean to you?” she went on.
Good question, I thought. Since we opened on December 1 I’ve had that question a few times from customers. What does it mean within the context of a retail store? The definition of “curate” is a verb signifying to do something with something, to take charge or or organize an object or objects, to pull things together after sifting through, and select certain items for a presentation. So I would say, “I curate our goods with an eye for creating a comfortable, eclectic, casually elegant home.”
Here’s a nutshell story of how Curate Consignments, LLC came into existence. My background – for as long as I can remember – is furniture, textiles, home decor, paints, wallpapers, linens, dishes, and accessories. I used to go with my mother (who was a designer as well) to Calico Corner and Wallpapers to Go and Bering Hardware in Houston and sit under the racks and pull tags and buttons and clips off the merchandise. Even though I was wasting time, I was listening to every detail of pulling a client’s home together. At the time I thought my mother was house crazy, too, because she flipped 27 homes in 25 years – way before house flipping was fashionable. She just loved it – the smell of wood floors, the sheen of saltillo tile, beautiful fabrics, Oriental rugs, tightly upholstered furniture, antiques, luxurious trims on pillows. So I grew up pushing furniture around and hanging draperies and unrolling rugs and creating “sets” with an eye to stylish comfort.
My first store was Eastham Interiors and Home Collection, LLC, in Fort Collins, Colorado. I carried only new products from reputable vendors – high-quality vendors – like Norwalk furniture and fabrics, Thibaut wallpapers and fabrics, Surya rugs, Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, Lafco New York candles and scents, custom lighting from Dallas, and then sprinkled in great antiques from the Scandinavian countries, and old pieces that we custom painted in the studio at the store. After almost four years, a young couple who were builders in town came and bought every last bar of soap and lampshade, and I decided at that time to take a break to see if high-end retail was really what I wanted to keep doing. It seemed to me that the Fort Collins clients wanted less expensive (but just as stylish) goods, and that they weren’t interested in $125-a-yard fabric for custom pillows. So I took a year and a half and went exploring. I met a fellow in Houston who had the most beautiful consignment store I’d ever been in. We discussed his business plan (he had 10,000 square feet and had been in business thirty years) and he shared his thoughts. (That is what good business people do – they share their successes and aren’t afraid of competition!) He would empty homes from people who were downsizing or moving or had estate sales, and he would also take in consignment furniture that was nice – pristine, clean, not ragged or frayed or beat up.
Bingo! That’s what I wanted to do! And Curate was born. I scoured homes and garages and barns and storage units and sometimes other stores to find just the right pieces for my clients in Fort Collins. The store is growing as we curate wonderful gently used pieces for a home that is welcoming, warm, and glowing with personality. I am a curator and caretaker and style maker for the things I find and the things my friends bring to me to sell. I know Curate Consignments will one day be the store in Fort Collins that has stood the test of time for years to come. My grandma said so.