The price of everything is going up: food, transportation, entertainment, utilities and even furniture. As Arkansans navigate how to make their budgets stretch more to cover all the necessities of life, Casa Bella in Hot Springs is helping them maintain their aesthetic with high-end furniture for the home and office.

 

Brenda Leaton, founder and owner of Casa Bella, makes it a priority to find the best quality furniture, sometimes for 50 percent of the price of new. She founded Casa Bella in 2010 and will celebrate the shop’s 14th anniversary in April. AY About You caught up with her recently to talk about the shop’s expanded showroom and how consignment furniture helps Arkansans create personalized, unique spaces in their homes and offices.

 

AY About You: Casa Bella is such a beautiful place to visit and shop. How did you get started in consignment furniture? Were you a designer or interior decorator?

 

Brenda Leaton: I’ve always had a passion for decorating and beautiful furnishings. Over the years, I’ve taken different courses, and the consignment furniture business always piqued my interest. I am amazed at how unique the pieces are and how one piece can set the tone for an entire room’s look.

 

Several people approached me about starting my own consignment shop, and after looking into it, I chose to pursue that route. I’m originally from Hot Springs — my family moved here in 1974 —so I wanted to remain in the city because this is home to me. That was in 2010, and Casa Bella has been at the same address with the same owner all these years.

 

AY: What kinds of furnishings does Casa Bella have? Is it just for homes, or do you have items for offices?

 

Leaton: We provide anything and everything for the home or office.

 

AY: Why do you think people choose high-end consignment furniture over new, or what they’re calling “fast furniture,” which is the kind of furniture you get at big-box stores and other department store outlets?

 

Leaton: It’s definitely quality. The furniture we have in the store is name brand, and is made of real wood and will last for a long time. You get much more value for your dollar here, and of course, there are things here you won’t find in anyone else’s home.

 

AY: How do you go about getting your consignments?

 

Leaton: If someone approaches me about consigning their furniture, I ask them to email me photos, and I can determine from those if the furniture is something I think I can sell. Several times, I’ve had entire homes of furnishings someone wanted to consign with me due to downsizing to a smaller home, redecorating or relocating to a new area. If there are a lot of furnishings and I’ve determined they will work well in my store, I will go to the home and choose what items to sell in Casa Bella.

 

 

AY: So if someone is interested in putting their furniture on consignment with you, all they have to do is email the photos to you at consigncasabella@gmail.com?

 

Leaton: Yes, but I’m really choosy about what I select for the store. The inventory in Casa Bella has little wear and tear, if any, and the furniture must come from a reputable name brand [and be] made from quality materials.

 

AY: Who would you say is your typical client?

 

Leaton: In general, the typical Casa Bella client is female, age 45 or older. This describes both the client who buys from Casa Bella, as well as consigns with us. They understand quality furniture is beautiful, well-made and will last for a long time. They have their own design aesthetic and understand what will and won’t work within it. The clients we serve at Casa Bella are more selective in what they purchase and want quality. However, our customer base is growing with more and more younger clients who see the value in our furniture.

 

AY: You recently reconfigured your shop and now have more showroom floor space. What led you to take on this project?

 

Leaton: I had a large room in the back of the store that I used just for storage. A year ago, I decided to clean that out and use the space for additional showroom [space]. It added about 30 percent of floor space. By taking what I had in our existing showroom and repurposing it, it allowed more options for our clients when they come to shop. We offer everything for the home or office, and we even offer patio and outdoor furniture seasonally.

 

In addition to furnishings, Casa Bella offers designer jewelry and handbags.

 

AY: You recently began consigning luxury handbags, and you also are selling French Kande jewelry. Can you talk a little about what led you to expand into these products? What can your clients expect when they peruse these in your shop?

 

Leaton: I saw a need here in our area for luxury handbag consignment, and we now offer Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Dior, Prada, Fendi and more. We ensure every one of our handbags is 100-percent authentic before offering them for sale in the shop. I either authenticate them or use a service that will authenticate them. Those who are considering purchasing one can rest assured that what they are purchasing is real and of the best quality.

 

French Kande is a jewelry line established in 2009 in Los Angeles by a woman named Kande Hall. She was visiting Paris, and she happened upon these little medallions. According to the founder, she thought the pieces were so stylish and captivating and unlike anything she had ever seen. She purchased a handful of gifts for friends and family, but after a few months of being back in the United States, she clasped an old medallion onto an opera-length strand of pearls, and something clicked. Today, French Kande is sold in more than 600 high-end specialty boutiques, including Casa Bella. The pieces are all handmade with very high-quality materials. The design is kind of boho chic.

 

AY: Can someone purchase jewelry or handbags online?

 

Leaton: Yes. Our new website is consigncasabella.com, and most things we have in the store, including our furniture, are available online. Shopify powers it, so if you see something in the store and decide later you want to buy it, you can purchase it from our site from the convenience of your smartphone, laptop or tablet, or a customer can call and pay over the phone with a credit card and pick up later.

 

AY: What, in your opinion, sets Casa Bella apart from other consignment or new furniture stores?

 

Leaton: Consignment furniture and decor is not what a lot of people think it is. The reality of consignment furniture is very high-quality furnishings and very unique items. What we have in Casa Bella, you won’t find in other stores. If you have a particular style, you are more likely to find items in Casa Bella than in new-furniture or department stores. We are more apt to fit your individual style aesthetic because we have everything from A to Z. Even if you are just window shopping, you may find a perfect piece for your home at an incredible price.

 

Our reputation is such that if you see something you like, purchase it then, or it will be gone. Our turnover rate is really fast, and our inventory comes in and goes out just as quickly. We also hold regular sales where items are reduced according to how long they’ve been on the floor. If you see something you like but can’t quite purchase right then, keep an eye online or in-store for the sales. We are very active on our Facebook and Instagram pages at Casa Bella Hot Springs and post new arrivals every Friday and throughout the week. Casa Bella also offers a 30-day layaway, which is popular among customers.

 

AY: Do you have interior designers and decorators utilize your shop?

 

Leaton: Yes, designers and decorators use us for private homes, vacation rentals and other rental properties and offices. More and more people are buying vacation homes and condominiums for short-term rental in Hot Springs, and they come to Casa Bella to furnish the entire space.

 

AY: Can someone hire you to find certain pieces for them?

 

Leaton: The way we manage this is a customer who is looking for a certain piece can leave their contact information with me, and if something like what they are looking for comes in, I will contact them first.

 

AY: What is your message to someone who has never visited your store before and may be reluctant to try it?

 

Leaton: After 14 years at 325 Broadway St. in Hot Springs, I’ve learned a lot about what the people in central Arkansas are looking for in home decor. I welcome anyone to visit us to find a piece that speaks to them, whether it’s furniture, handbags or jewelry. Our store is an oasis; when you walk in, you will find it to be a surprising discovery. Outside, it’s a simple, red-brick building, but when you walk in, it’s like you’ve walked into a luxury hotel or boutique.

 

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