Robin Burns' inspiration to start her own business came from a friend's experience with a house purchase. Her friend purchased a furnished house because the selling owner didn't want to take the furniture to her new home. Burns reasoned that there were many other homeowners that would sell their furniture if they had a proper outlet.
Turns out, her judgement was sound. For the past four years, Burns has owned and operated The Perfect Piece. It's a furniture consignment shop located off Peachtree Industrial between the Moore Road and McGinnis Ferry intersections.
Burns sells mid- to high-end furniture. She recommends that consignors send pictures of items in advance to help her decide if she’ll resell it and so that she can plan the space. Burns sets the selling price and usually the items start at 50-60 percent off retail, depending on condition.
All the merchandise in the store is consigned. The consignor receives 50 percent of the sales price while the Perfect Piece keeps the other 50 percent. The first day for sale is printed on each price tag and if an item does not sell in the first 30 days, its price is marked down 15 percent. The price drops another 15 percent if the item does not sell within 60 days, and then is marked to half its original price after 90 days.
After 90 days the consignor has five days to pick it up or the item is donated to a local charity. Burns works with Wellspring, Habitat for Humanity, SPCA in Suwanee for donations.
Burns has a degree from the University of Alabama in Interior Design. This helped her as she researched the idea for furniture consignment. It was 2006 and the housing market had cooled. But Burns knew that with homes not selling, many people would choose to remodel and refurnish their existing homes. “People might not feel safe trying to sell their furniture on CraigsList or might now want to deal with the hassle of a garage sale,” Burns said. A consignment store was a great setting that provided a safe alternative for serious buyers and sellers.
Burns didn't rush into her idea. She did market research and created a business plan. She also talked to other business owners in the consignment industry. While most consignment shops were for women's clothing, the insights the owners provided Burns about the industry and day-to-day operations were invaluable.
With her business plan in-hand, Burns decided to go for it. She was tired of working for companies and wanted to do her own thing. The Perfect Piece opened for business on August 9, 2007.
Burns says the inspiration for her store name came from a similar store in the Tampa area called “The Missing Piece.” She worked with a few variations of this theme and evolved to The Perfect Piece Consignment Interiors.
Burns used word-of-mouth for her initial advertising. Over time she added an email list that notifies recipients each week of new items in the store. Burns says that “word-of-mouth and constant contact are my best advertisements.”
In addition to consigning, Burn also manages estate sales for home owners. She will tag items in a home, and then works her sales from a commission agreement. One interesting story from this experiences is that in January 2011, she helped former NFL quarterback Brett Favre with an estate sale from items that were in his Mississippi home. They brought these items back to Atlanta for sale and displayed them for a week in different location in Suwanee.
April of 2011, Burns also helped supplying furniture items to families in the Tuscaloosa area that suffered loss after the tornado. She sent an email to her customers to bring donations and then personally drove the items to a church in the Tuscaloosa area for distribution.
The consignment furniture business is working well for Burns. The Perfect Piece won Best of Gwinnett for Furniture 2009 and again 2010 as polled by Gwinnett Magazine. Burns says that many of her customers have become like family. She keeps a coffee pot in the store. You might just get a cup and look for your perfect piece.
For more information about the Perfect Piece and Robin Burns: