Bargain hunters (with taste), start your engines. Recently I’ve been in a decorating mood. It all started with a pair of bedside tables I stumbled upon at Mitchell Gold that were on the sale rack. I spiffed them up by adding quartzite tops. It’s been weeks and I still smile when I see them. While I was looking for remnant stone, I found marble baseboards that match my bathroom floor. From there I decided to finish a hall closet that had been junk storage.
Note: Another reason high-rises are good. When you need someone to install a small amount of baseboard, you can knock on doors of renovating neighbors and see if their tile guy wants a small side job. The perfect solution for tiny jobs that are notoriously difficult to get done these days.
Finally, I decided to design my own media cabinet, end tables, and a built-in shelving unit/bar. I visited the Design District to see all the styles I love, but am too poor to afford, for inspiration. Quite ambitious of me.
For those who don’t recall the 2014 article (ha!), Viyet (a play on “vignette”) is a virtual consignment shop opened in 2013. But it’s more. They only take the cream of the design district crop. Furniture must retail for over $1,000, lighting over $500 and knickknacks over $100. In any of these categories you’ll be hard-pressed to find much approaching these minimum standards.
The stuff comes from showrooms who don’t want to sully themselves by selling sample pieces to consumers, plus rich folks jettisoning treasures while remodeling. Viyet staff evaluate, photograph and measure each piece (so you know the real condition of a piece and that their judgement is consistent). They document and photograph any boo-boos. “Gently used” likely being the worst condition they sell. There is a “revive” category for restoration work, but it’s usually reserved for antique pieces. Scratches are the most common fault. They also help sellers set prices. But prices are not hard with all items having a “make an offer” button. And like any consignment store, DO make an offer.
Because items are personally inspected, Viyet only receives items from certain areas like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, etc.
Items range from literally showroom new to vintage pieces. Because items come from all over and shipping large furniture isn’t the average consumer’s forte, shipping is handled by Viyet. In fact, their shipping calculations are impressive. Simply enter your zip code and bingo … shipping cost. No “call us” nonsense.
Before I tell you how the process went with me, here’s a plug for women in STEM careers (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). Viyet lists 14 staff on their website. While 11 are women, the only two technical staff listed are male. Come on mommies and daddies, get those girls interested in the sciences! I attend a lot of technology events and sometimes you’d swear there are more women in a Big Bang Theory comic book shop. (jus’ sayin’)
Viyet’s online service is great and there’s a lot of it. If you hover on a page too long, a text chat window pops up. If you prefer you may also email and call them. Their systems are tied together so all channels are aware of what you’ve asked elsewhere. A nice, tech-savvy touch.
Anyway, I was clicking around and found a media cabinet/sideboard that really worked. I liked the design and after taping its outline on the floor like a dead body, it worked in the space. It’s a Lewis Mittman piece who I know has a go-to showroom in the Design District. The retail was $7,080 and they wanted $2,240 with $440 in shipping. I offered $1,850 and it was quickly accepted (I assume there’s a threshold set in their system). While instant acceptance made me think I could’ve gotten it cheaper, I was still happy. An extra 10 percent coupon definitely helped.
When I went to checkout, the shipping jumped from one screen to the next to $512.44. While $72.44 wouldn’t queer the deal, it was annoying. So I called and got the “right” answer. Their bad and they tossed an extra 5 percent off the price, which more than made up for the shipping snafu.
End of the day for $2,084.94, I got a $7,080 piece for $1,572.50 plus $512.44 in shipping. As you might imagine, at 90 inches long, this isn’t a UPS delivery so don’t buy something you want for next weekend’s soirée.
Happily, my order arrived in a shockingly quick eight days from my initial order.
Damage and Repair
Unhappily, there were problems. Upon arrival the piece was damaged. There were two chips to one door and the hinge behind the chips was stripped from its screw holes. To be perfectly honest, these are relatively minor fixes and I wasn’t having fits. I also noticed that the six interior shelves were missing … a much bigger deal.
I contacted Viyet within the hour of receipt and waited all day for a reply. That’s the thing, when you order something sight unseen (and expensive) and it arrives damaged, you feel a little adrift until you receive communication and assurance from the sender that they’re handling the problem and not ditching you.
A week and several communiques later, they had not found the missing shelves. I was offered a 15 percent discount for my troubles. I responded that I was meeting with a cabinetmaker the next day who would provide me with a quote on the repairs and re-fabrication of replacement shelves…which would likely be more than the 15 percent proffered.
I expected some pushback but the following morning I received an email, “We are happy to reimburse you for the repairs, but we will need an estimate from you before we can guarantee an amount.”
The estimate I sent was for $671.15 which included $240 for the replacement shelves and $380 for the door and hinge repair (plus tax). The $380 seemed quite high but it was explained that it required a house call (surprisingly, a 90” sideboard wouldn’t fit in my trunk).
Again, I expected pushback from Viyet when I sent the quote at 9:51am. I mean $671.15 in repairs to a piece I’d paid $1,572.50 plus $512.44 shipping is a bitter pill. But four hours later I received a credit for the full amount to my AMEX card and a note, “My sincerest apologies for all of the trouble you’ve experienced with this order. Please let me know if there’s anything else I can do at this time.”
It was only at that time that I revealed I was a writer and would be sharing my experience with my readers. I wanted my experience to be an honest representation of an average buyer. As I told them, things happen, it’s how you fix them that matters.
My one suggestion for them was that they need to maintain a list of furniture repair contacts in major markets. That way when damage occurs, customers wouldn’t have to magic-up a repair on their own. This is especially true in markets where they also accept items for sale (like Dallas). Sellers might also use these resources to brush-up some pieces before sale.
I’m already tarting up the sideboard having ordered a nifty stone top and equally nifty new knobs (the original knobs looked a little tipsy).
I’m happy I found Viyet in my old bookmarks and would order again. Those last three words are the highest praise a customer can give.
Remember: High-rises, HOAs and renovation are my beat. But I also appreciate modern and historical architecture balanced against the YIMBY movement. If you’re interested in hosting a Candysdirt.com Staff Meeting event, I’m your guy. In 2016 and 2017, the National Association of Real Estate Editors has recognized my writing with two Bronze (2016, 2017) and two Silver (2016, 2017) awards. Have a story to tell or a marriage proposal to make? Shoot me an email firstname.lastname@example.org.