For Maria and Herb Gomes, owners of Valrico's , circumstance created opportunity.
The couple are partners in a business that Maria picked up while Herb, a former master sergeant in the United States Air Force, was stationed in Idaho. It was there she first began arranging furniture at a consignment shop where she was working part time and fell head over heels for the business.
"When we lived in Boise I started working at a consignment furniture shop, and I just loved it," Maria Gomes said. "It's like Christmas every day, you never know what is going to come your way. It got me on the path of wanting to get into this business, and I knew there wasn't much of that here in our hometown when we moved back, so it seemed like a good opportunity."
Upon moving back to their native Valrico five years ago, the couple decided it was time to open their own business and settle in to the community. With Consign Dezigns, 3322 Lithia-Pinecrest Rd., Maria is able to put her talent for combining pieces of random furniture to good use.
The store is staged, meaning that when a customer walks into Consign Dezigns, they see the items arranged in a way that could be suitable for their own home, with possible secondary items to go with it.
"We want you to feel like you're coming into a home as opposed to a furniture store," Maria Gomes said. "It's a challenge sometimes to make it feel like a cohesive room, but that is what I enjoy about it. We somehow manage to pull it off, and we get compliments all the time on the way that we're able to bring things together that ordinarily you wouldn't think would go together. It's fun to see people's reactions when they come in and see what the store looks like."
The store only accepts a certain quality of furniture, items that are ready to be resold immediately. In today's economy, she doesn't have any trouble finding clients, it's keeping the store stocked that can get tricky.
"The furniture in here speaks for itself," Maria Gomes said. "The challenge is keeping things in that people want. We might get someone looking for a dining room table but all we have is sofas because that is what has been coming in. We don't just take anything and we have a lot of brand name items that will cost the person half of what it would at a retail furniture store."
The price and quality of the items creates a lot of turnover, something that can be both good and bad for someone in the market for a new piece of furniture.
"Things go fast," Gomes said. "It's good because if you don't find what you want that day you may find it a few days later. Always keep checking back. It keeps changing week to week."
Having never advertised, Gomes' shop has developed a loyal clientele by word of mouth only.
"We have people who have literally furnished their entire house with items from our store," Maria said. "Friends will visit and ask where they got a piece, and whatever they point at has come from here. It sends a lot of people our way."
The couple now live in Riverview and have cemented their place in the community through their work at the store over the last four and a half years. While they have enjoyed the people, Maria has also enjoyed the furniture she has seen people bring in.
"Every piece has a story, and it's always interesting to hear why people are giving it up," she said. "People sometimes come in to switch out their furniture with things that we have. Sometimes you move and your furniture doesn't fit so well in your new house so bring it here and we will sell it for you. I've seen some interesting and beautiful items come through here."
If You Go
3322 Lithia Pinecrest Rd., Valrico