As Westchester County locations have become a sweet spot for the film industry, a pair of New Rochelle consignment boutiques have built a successful side business providing furniture and clothing to set designers.
Consign It on Main and Sweet Preserves, which share a prominent space on Main Street, have for the past four years provided items for major films and television shows. The new business comes at a time when mom-and-pop shops are facing a challenge from Amazon and other online retailers.
But Candice Denslow, co-owner of Consign It on Main, counters that shoppers shouldn’t overlook Main Street stores because “we have something to offer.”
During a Thursday afternoon interview, Denslow and Sweet Preserves owner Amy Coleman answered questions between inquiries from drop-in customers and furniture deliveries from New York City.
Consign It on Main has been an anchor in New Rochelle’s business district since it opened nine years ago. The store, co-owned by Denslow and Dom Cioffoletti, started off in a 1,500-square-foot space on Main Street in 2008 before moving up that same year to a 5,000-square-foot space Denslow bought at 543 Main St. Coleman opened Sweet Preserves within the store in 2012. Consign It on Main sells furniture and other housewares while Sweet Preserves sells designer clothing and accessories.
Along with the in-store retail for both Consign It on Main and Sweet Preserves, the stores have built up a number of supplemental businesses such as home staging for real estate companies and designing and furnishing homes for business executives and athletes. Working with foreign diplomats who live or shop in New Rochelle, Denslow has designed and furnished homes in a number of countries, including South Africa, England, Dubai and Germany.
“We have a full trucking service, upholstery work, lighting, painters,” Denslow said. “We try to cover it all.”
The latest addition to those offerings is in the film and television industry. In the past four years the stores have provided set furniture and clothing for an impressive list of award-winning films such as “American Hustle” and “Joy” as well as for more than a dozen TV shows, including “Gotham” and “The Americans.” For “Joy,” which was filmed in Massachusetts, Denslow said trucks came down weekly to transport items from the store to the set.
The stores also provided furniture and clothing for the upcoming Steven Spielberg Pentagon Papers film “The Post,” starring Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep, which shot several scenes around Westchester.
Denslow built working relationships with set designers and their assistants to grow that side of business, saying she never forgets a name and tries to create a relaxed atmosphere in the store for visitors.
“People tend to just open up to her and tell their life story,” Coleman said with a laugh.
Consign It on Main can match items people no longer need with films that can use them. The store receives photos of furniture and other items from dozens of homes each week looking to sell items on consignment, Denslow said.
Denslow pointed out a 19th-century Italian chandelier that she said came from a multimillion-dollar home in Rye as an example of the type of item the store can offer. But about 40 percent of the items the businesses are offered for consignment don’t fit their needs. “When we get photos from a potential consigner that we know we can’t sell to a retail customer, we will blast it out to the set designers,” Coleman said.
The set designers often have much more specific needs. The stores are working now with a TV show that’s in production and will be set in the 1980s, for example.
“When you send me an ’80s couch I can send it off to the set designer that’s looking for it,” Denslow said.
Consign It on Main itself has gone before the cameras. The Amazon show “Sneaky Pete” filmed a scene in its storeroom earlier this fall.
Consign It on Main and Sweet Preserves are working to build off that momentum. Denslow said the city has “all the right urban looks and architecture” that films and television shows look for. The stores are working with clients and other businesses to build a portfolio of homes and stores available for filming.
The store’s success working with film and television productions comes as the county has increasingly marketed itself as a top filming location, with Westchester receiving more than $30 million in revenue from the film and TV industry in 2016, according to county officials.
Through its IDEA New Rochelle effort, New Rochelle and its downtown business improvement district are attempting to build the city into a hub for virtual and augmented reality artists, designers and researchers, which would help lure films as well.
Consign It on Main and Sweet Preserves helped with that effort in its early going. Earlier this year the stores donated furniture and clothing used in the production of the independent film “Egg,” which was shot across the street at 542 Main St. in space that will soon be used as a makerspace with motion capture technology by IDEA New Rochelle.
Ralph DiBart, executive director of the New Rochelle Business Improvement District, said having the movie shoot in the city helped officials there expand IDEA New Rochelle’s network in the media production industry.
The success of Consign It on Main and Sweet Preserves working with films and television has had a ripple effect on other downtown businesses, DiBart said. When professionals in the film industry shop at one store in New Rochelle, he said, they’re likely to shop other businesses nearby.
“Given the plight of Main Street retail, it’s exciting to see brick and mortar stores find ways of expanding their market,” DiBart said. “Consign It on Main is a good example of how our Main Street is adapting and surviving.”