Aleksandra Phelan calls it “probably the most comfortable chair I’ve ever sat in.”
It’s an Eames lounge chair, designed to mimic “the warm, receptive look of a well-used first baseman’s mitt,” according to Charles Eames, who created the seat of moulded plywood and leather with his wife Ray.
Launched in 1956, the iconic chair and matching ottoman became “one of the most significant designs of the 20th century,” according to the Herman Miller furniture company that produces it.
The one Phelan first sank into was in an Amsterdam apartment where she attended a party years ago.
“I was very surprised how comfortable it was … it’s just very relaxing,” she says. Now married to the man who hosted the party, Phelan describes its role in their Toronto house.
“It’s always been the centre of our home. It sits in the front room to welcome the guests.”
Their three-year-old daughter, who was rocked to sleep there as a baby, “still loves it,” adds Phelan.
The chair, which has “travelled the world with us,” also helped inspire her new business reselling designer furniture, says Phelan, a personal branding expert.
After living and working in a number of countries, she and her Canadian-born husband landed in Portland, Ore. But when they decided to move to Toronto in 2020, she tried to sell some of their “good stuff” on Facebook Marketplace to save on hefty shipping costs.
Thwarted by deep-discount-seekers, no-shows and payment difficulties, she instead put up her own e-commerce site to sell things to colleagues and other contacts.
“It worked,” says Phelan, owner of Phelan Strategic Consulting, a global public relations and marketing agency she started in 2017.
She launched Garage Online Sale (GOS) last November, “the first Canadian online marketplace” for reselling and buying curated goods. The Toronto-based platform offers gently-used designer furniture and premium household items and decor, including lighting, mirrors, home office equipment and outdoor merchandise.
But this is no e-version of the traditional bargain-hunter’s garage sale — which, along with yard sales and community fundraisers, is now getting into full swing. GOS prices on pre-loved “quality goods” can range up to 70 or 80 per cent of the original retail price, depending on condition, says Phelan. Sellers pay a 20 per cent commission while buyers are charged $5 per transaction. Recent listings ranged from a pair of distressed teal antique nightstands for $100 each to a marble-topped vintage dresser for $400 and an art deco burled walnut dining room set with multiple pieces for $6,500.
(To browse the listings without creating an account, scroll down to the lower part of the homepage to “shop by room” or “explore more.”)
Phelan says her self-funded startup fills a niche by offering curated and filtered merchandise, sellers who are verified to be “real people,” not dealers, and a secure payment method. The money is kept on hold until the buyer picks up the item at the seller’s location.
“Selling your own furniture is not the easiest thing to do,” Phelan points out. In April, GOS racked up 2,000 new registered users and had almost 12,000 visitors to the site, she says.
The furniture resale market is “massive and growing fast,” observes Phelan, citing a figure of $16.6 billion …….