There are a lot of positives that come from buying gently used goods. You can score some fantastic items at reasonable prices, and it’s certainly green. But it’s not always pleasant to shop for them. Stores are dusty; it can take hours to troll through listings online; and you always have to sort through so much junk before finding anything worthwhile, if you do at all.
So what if there were a way to streamline the process? A shop that’s already separated the wheat from the chaff, leaving you with a beautifully curated selection of designer pieces? Enter Previously Owned By A Gay Man, a new type of consignment store that makes shopping for the home easier than ever.
Recently I spoke with Michele Hofherr, one of the founders of the company, to learn more.
I think we have to start with the name of your business. How did you come up with it?
The inspiration came from watching my good friend and his partner reinvent homes, time after time, and discard amazing goods. After seeing one too many choice pieces fall into the hands of people who had no appreciation for what they had acquired, I decided there was an opportunity to capitalize on. The name followed the concept, and seemed a logical connection. Most people agree that when you hear “Previously Owned by a Gay Man,” it encapsulates a lot (quality, taste, gently used). We also thought it had just the right amount of cheek!
Where do you get your stock? What are some reasons people might be selling these items?
Our stock comes from many sources: designers, stagers, people remodeling, people moving...it runs the gamut!
How do you decide what to sell? Do you showcase a particular style? Is there any style you don’t sell?
Our main criteria is that is has to be good quality and good design. Of course that can be subjective, but we try to look at everything from the perspective of “Would I want that in my own home?” Our goal is to have a variety of styles on the site at any given time, but we are at the mercy of what comes through our doors, so it can vary. Ideally there is a little something for everyone.
What advantages does POBAGM have over other methods of purchasing, like eBay, craigslist, 1stdibs, or brick and mortar consignment stores?
We like to think our main differences are quality and ease of use. We’ve sifted through the junk so you don’t have to, and present it in a much more streamlined, aesthetic shopping experience. We also eliminate the middle man part of some of those retail experiences that we’ve noticed is a barrier for some prospective buyers.
Do you have a typical buyer? Is it mostly designers? Or homeowners?
We definitely have found designers are liking the site, both as sellers and buyers. It is a natural fit, as they are accustomed to searching for great pieces. We also believe we are the perfect solution for the generation that has grown up with recommerce and is always thinking green.
How do buyers go about purchasing an item from you? Does one have to live in the Bay Area?
At this point we are Bay Area-based (with hopes of expanding to other major markets), but we’ve had people shop and sell from all over. If you are willing to pay for shipping, we are happy to get it to you nationwide!
How do sellers go about listing something on your site? What percentage do they receive of the selling price?
We have two ways of working. If you want us to take [the item] off your hands, we can do that. In this case, we pick it up, photograph it, house it and ship it when it sells. In this scenario, it is a 50/50 split. If you have an item (or several) to list, you can use our upload form to list your goods. When it sells, we notify you, and you take care of the shipping. Of course we can help with delivery if need be. In this scenario, the split is 75% (seller) / 25% (us).
What are some of your favorite items you’ve had on the site? Is it ever hard to part with things that come in?
We had a gorgeous Arteriors pendant light that--no surprise--got snatched up right away. There is an amazing pewter and glass Mitchell Gold coffee table that is on right now and just waiting for its home. It is super chic. One of the first items on our shelves was a beautiful pair of white table lamps. They are a matte ceramic and very clean and stylish. I keep trying to find a place for them in my own home because I like them so much, but I just don’t have a spot!
I do find I get a little attached to pieces, but mostly I just get excited about them finding their way into a new home. I love that there is a second owner just waiting to love something all over again!