by Kira Belllis
From original 1800s Asbury Park postcards to a late 1700s French hutch, the consignment store Phantastic Phinds offers an assortment of color, time periods and aesthetics.
People have traveled to the store from Connecticut to buy a chair and from Virginia Beach for a lamp. Another person made the trip from Pittsburgh to purchase a Japanese screen and a Chagall painting. If you stop by the store, you may find what was missing from your home all along.
Originally started in 2004, Angela Sipe ran Phantastic Phinds out of a garage with a vintage focus. In 2010, she expanded to its current location at 631 Bethlehem Pike in Erdenheim. Then, in 2012, Dave Bilardi bought the establishment.
When Bilardi took over, he said, “I designated the den in my apartment downtown to entirely consist of contemporary furniture and decor I’ve bought from our store. Our change from vintage to more inclusive allowed me to do this.”
Phantastic Phind’s clientèle now includes everyone from young couples to empty nesters. Of course, the unique quality of a consignment store remains. As Bilardi says, “You’re not just buying a product; you’re buying emotion.” Open six days a week, items and their stories sell every single day.
If you’re interested in selling, you better get in line. The last Thursday of every quarter, Phantastic Phinds schedules appointments. People start lining up outside the store an hour before the 10 a.m. starting time. When the door opens, you might find 100 people lined up around the block.
Once you arrange a meeting time, Phantastic Phinds will email you a week prior with a list of trends, or as Bilardi calls it, “what’s hot and what’s not.” When you meet in person, the primary requirement, Bilardi stresses that his pieces must be solid. Then,employees research the potential of your items by looking at their database of sales, multiple online searches and, if needed, an online appraisal in London.
For pricing, the store works on a three-tier system. First, there is the fair market price. If the piece does not sell within the first 30 days, the price drops 20 percent. This happens again after 60 days. However, many items sell within the first 24 days on the floor, so if you want something, Bilardi said, “buy it or take your chance at the waiting game.”
Phantastic Phinds stands out from other consignment stores because it’s high tech. With a website updated daily and synced to in-store purchases, customers know what pieces are still available. Also, consignors have the ability to track their items up for sale. But the website’s biggest news is they now can ship directly to your home, whether it be nearby or in California.
Outside of their website, Phantastic Phinds has almost 4,000 followers on Pinterest, giving them daily interior design and repurposing projects. The 17,000 tweets on Twitter keeps customers informed about price markdowns and new arrivals.
Due to its popularity, Phantastic Phinds is looking to expand by adding another store in West Philly or Northeast of the city. Bilardi says the new store will be a different entity, heavily focused on contemporary items to create a new experience for shoppers.
One of Bilardi’s favorite parts of running a consignment store is how it’s more than a store. He remembers when a woman noticed a painting she claimed her grandmother owned years ago. Bilardi says there was a slim chance of this actually being true. But then, the woman turned the canvas around and exposed a carving in the structure she made decades ago. To everyone’s amazement, it was the same artwork. As Bilardi says, “Phantastic Phinds is not just a business, it’s an energy.”