Thursday, August 17, 2017  


Shopping on a Velvet Shoestring

Its the day after Christmas and the malls are packed with shoppers returning gifts and snapping up post- holiday bargains. You wouldn’t expect a home furnishings store to be a hubbub of activity, but The Velvet Shoestring in Williamsburg is doing a brisk business. Owner Betty Stephans apologizes, “We don’t have much of an inventory at the moment. We won’t restock until after the New Year,” yet despite a monthly inventory turnover of 90% and new items arriving daily, there is plenty of high quality consignment merchandise to admire, consider, and buy.

As you approach the shop entrance on Second Street, just a few short blocks from Colonial Williamsburg, two large bronze spaniels flanking the door seemingly greet you like old friends, welcoming you to enter and enjoy.
Inside the 4000 square-foot showroom, the shop’s inventory of gently treated, pre-owned furniture and accessories is elegantly displayed in attractive groupings to showcase each piece to full advantage.

The Velvet Shoestring is just as its name implies: elegant furnishings available on a budget; a deal few shoppers can resist. “Our goal is to convey beauty and elegance without breaking the bank,” says Heidi Druhot, one of seven dedicated employees who clearly loves what she does.

Betty and daughter Jackie Hazeltine opened the doors to The Velvet Shoestring in 2005 after successful careers as interior designers in New York and New Jersey. Betty and Jackie were often faced with the dilemma of what
to do with clients’ high end furnishings when redecorating their spaces. When they both relocated to Williamsburg after Betty retired, a consignment shop seemed the perfect solution. From the moment it opened it was a hit.

Two years later, having outgrown their former space, they relocated to their current showroom. With customers coming from as far north as Connecticut and as far south as Florida to consign and shop with us, word spread, attracting not only individual buyers but antique dealers looking for something special for their own clients and galleries. Many from out of town show up with trucks or vans, knowing full well they are going to be carting home some treasure.

From the sparkling crystal chandeliers suspended from the ceiling to expansive oriental rugs covering the floor and an eclectic mix of furniture, fine art, prints, lamps, china, and objects d’art, each piece has been carefully hand-selected by Betty, Jackie and their staff. Focus is on offering great design elements at an affordable price that is also profitable for both the seller and the buyer.

Each gently-loved piece represents some of the best design and craftsmanship of its era, whether it’s 19th century traditional, sleek mid-century modern, early Americana reproductions, or painted cottage décor. With distinctive pieces from well-known manufacturers such as Ethan Allen, Henkle-Harris, Drexel and more, shoppers can afford to buy the very best.

Approved items are brought into the shop for a 90 day consignment period and priced to sell within the first 30 days. The price is reduced by 15% every 30 days thereafter and, once an item sells, the consignor receives 50% of the final selling price. With a 90% sales success rate, it’s clear the staff understands fair market value when it comes to pricing high quality used furnishings.

Large items such as armoires, beds, dressers, and couches are often picked up by The Velvet Shoestring, pieces chosen from clients in the process of redecorating, perhaps downsizing, or from family members disposing of personal estates.

In order to be considered for consignment, furniture must be stylish, clean, and in good condition. Smaller pieces can be brought to the shop. Brass and silver must arrive polished, ready for display. Lamps must be in working condition along with their shades. Rugs and upholstered pieces must be clean, as well as glassware and china.

With an eye for interior design and knowledgeable about current market trends, the staff of The Velvet Shoestring knows what’s hot and what’s not. Mid century modern is a hot commodity at the moment and pieces are snapped up as soon as they hit the floor. And when shopping on a shoestring budget, all it takes are a few strategically placed pieces of furniture to turn your home into a stylish retreat, and the shop’s staff is more than willing to help guide you through the process.

As their reputation has grown, the accolades have followed. In 2008 the Virginia Gazette dubbed them the area’s Best Kept Secret. In 2009, 2010, and 2011 they were voted the region’s Best Consignment Shop by a top regional magazine. And the shop’s customers couldn’t agree more.

“Many are repeat clients who visit the shop three to four times a week,” Heidi points out, “looking for what’s beautiful, what’s new, just looking for that fabulous piece. Our clients want to be esthetically pleased.” A few clients have decorated their homes from top to bottom with the shop’s chic consignments. It’s high end recycling at its very best.


The Velvet Shoestring accepts walk-in consignments Monday through Friday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. but wish to be notified in advance if you need to bring items in on the weekends. They are selective about the items they choose to sell so rest assured if yours are placed in their shop, it won’t be long before it finds a new home. Pieces that have sold and are awaiting delivery are appropriately tagged “I’m Taken” and one comes away feeling a treasure may have slipped through your hands.

The Velvet Shoestring is open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 4:00 p.m. Inventory changes daily, so stop by often. For additional information phone 757-220-9494 or to browse their gallery online, log onto www.thevelvetshoestring.biz