A funny thing happened when Snowshoe residents David and Jo Debra Gandee decided it was time to clean out their garage to make a new apartment. They were left with a bunch of “stuff” and nowhere to put it. Instead of simply storing the stuff away in another building, they came up with the idea for the Linwood Emporium, a consignment shop specializing in home décor, furniture and anything needed to spruce up a home or cabin.
Initially the Gandees, who run the store with their son, Jason Long, planned for the business to be repurposing furniture – that is until they were approached by a friend asking for help with selling furniture.
“We weren’t even open, yet,” Jo Debra said. “We were cleaning up and organizing stuff. A friend of ours wanted to bring furniture in that he wanted to sell and wanted to know if we could do it since that was what we were sort of going to do, so we said ‘okay.’”
They researched consignment shops and chose to go in that direction. While they waited for their business license to arrive, the store quickly filled with items.
“The store filled up completely from one end to the other, from condos on the mountain,” Jo Debra said. “People who either sold their condos and people didn’t want the furniture that came with it, or foreclosures. Those people had no-where to take their stuff to sell it. Most of them don’t have trucks to haul anything, so we picked it up, brought it down here, so we were full before we opened and had a business license.”
The Emporium opened in August 2013 and has been busy from day one. Locals and Snowshoe homeowners embraced the consignment shop as a way to get rid of unwanted items and make a little extra money.
“We’ve got a lot of people that bring us things, whether it’s a whole household or just one or two pieces,” Jo Debra said. “We’re selling a lot to the homeowners at Snowshoe because so many of their places are rental units, so they don’t want to use the most expensive furniture or antiques. They don’t want to have so much money invested, if it gets damaged, it’s a waste of money.”
The Gandees pride themselves on offering quality items to shoppers. They require that all items are in working order and clean. If they sell an appliance that does not work, the buyer will receive a refund and the consigner is informed.
Problems with bad items are few and far between, though, Jo Debra said.
When the shop first opened, they had 10 consigners. They are now up to 94.
“We really didn’t have an idea the need was here until it sort of popped up,” Jo Debra said. “We expected it to be sort of slow, that we’d have time to do a lot of other things, and it’s been a lot busier than we realized. There is a need for our shop and people seem to like it.”
A luxury of working with the Emporium is that they will pick-up items and deliver purchases. Pick-up and delivery within a 10 mile radius of the shop is free to the customer.
There are only a few simple rules for becoming a consigner.
“We have a contract you sign,” Jo Debra said. “We put things on consignment for four months and there’s a split on how much you make and how much we make. We take all the risk with checks and credit cards. If somebody pays with a credit card and it’s later denied, that’s not your fault, it’s ours. We absorb that loss. We pay the tax. We pay the insurance on the building.”
If an items does not sell in the first four months, the Gandees will meet with the consigner to come up with a plan, whether it be a drop in price or removal of the item from the store.
“We at least want four months where we’re not just holding it for you for two weeks and then you want to come and pick it up,” Jo Debra said. “We don’t want to do that. We’re not just free storage. We’re not having any problem with that, though. We’ve got some great consigners.”
Some consigners from larger cities are so pleased with the Emporium that they are now bringing items from their homes to sell, as well.
“We have people from the Morgantown area, Charleston area – they’re bringing things from their homes now and putting it on consignment,” Jo Debra said. “Most consignment shops, it’s usually about fifty-fifty, they do a split. Ours is much better. We do sixty-five/thirty-five. We only keep thirty-five percent. I realize there’s other consignment shops in Charleston and areas like that, but the breakdown is a little better, so if they’re coming up this way anyway, a lot of them will put stuff in their car and bring it up.”
The Emporium has also become a frequent stop for contractors with jobs on the mountain.
“We get building supplies from contractors,” Jo Debra said. “Whenever they have overruns or when they’re tearing something out and there’s nothing wrong with it, they have no way of getting rid of it. So this has helped them a lot. A lot of the stuff is brand new and they’re stuck with merchandise that they purchased for it.”
Contractors also know that if they need one more fixture or outlet cover to finish a job, they are more than likely able to find it at the Emporium.
“We have all kinds of light switches, light covers, outlet covers, plumbing supplies,” Jo Debra said. “We have tile where a lot of local people around here, they remodeled a bathroom and tiled it. Everybody orders too much tile and what do you do with it? So people have been bringing that in. We’ve got a huge selection of tile.”
The Gandees count themselves among the grateful shoppers at the Emporium. While they have put the furniture repurposing on hold, they did manage to find time for a new project – a greenhouse.
“We built a small greenhouse,” David said. “We built it with stuff from here, second hand stuff and it worked out fine. We have fun with it. We got a head start on that so we actually had tomatoes June 23 or somewhere around there. We started to have a few tomatoes every day. We had six or seven left that I picked three weeks ago. They were still green. So we made it from June to November with tomatoes.”
The greenhouse led to a plan to offer produce and flowers in the future.
“We’re hoping to expand next summer,” Jo Debra said. “We’re hoping to sell flowers, plants, vegetables, hanging ferns. All of that will fall under the Emporium because the Emporium can be anything.”
Anything indeed. There really is no telling what you might find when you enter the Emporium. Need a couch? A karaoke machine? A mounted buck’s head? Yes, they have that.
“If you want bragging rights but you don’t want to go hunting, you can get this deer head and put your name on the plaque,” Jo Debra joked as she pointed to the trophy hanging in a display window.
Whether you’re redecorating, have a new project or buying a gift for someone special, the Emporium has what you’re looking for – and the Gandee’s are ready to help at the drop of a hat – on most days.
“We’re open Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.,” Jo Debra said. “We can set up an appointment. If they want us to come look at what they have in their house, we try to do that on our days off so they can always call here and set up a time.
“We live right here, we’re not that busy – but when WVU’s playing, we might not go anywhere,” she added, laughing.
For more information on Linwood Emporium, call 304-572-1201
Suzanne Stewart may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org