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Name: Candace Blackburn (The Missing Piece)

Candace Blackburn, Executive Vice President of The Missing Piece, believes that outgoing furniture still has value - and she wants to give consignors a chance to profit from useful and beautiful pieces. Everyone benefits in this business. Consignors give their furniture to The Missing Piece, where it will be displayed in decorative showrooms. The showrooms are designed to help buyers visualize how a piece of furniture would look in a particular room. When a buyer purchases the furniture, both the consignor and consignee profit from the sale. And of course the buyer enjoys a new couch for the living room, or a bookcase for the office.

Years in St. Pete

Sixteen years in South Tampa and 10 years in Palm Harbor

Hustle (job)

Executive Vice President

What do you do?  

Perform online appraisals for furniture that we believe would be of interest to our shoppers. Last year I appraised over 20,000 pieces of furniture and accessories. I also photograph and write the descriptions of all of furniture for Tampa's website ,which is now updated every 15 minutes. And naturally I'm involved in ongoing evolution of The Missing Piece.

Why do you do it?

We believe we offer a valuable service to the Tampa Bay area. My mother's mother bought furniture and kept it for a lifetime. Our society isn't like that any more. We watch the design TV shows, we read the home decor magazines, and then want to change our style, update our look, switch up things. By doing this, there is still residual value left in our outgoing furniture. We help consignors retrieve that value rather than just giving their furniture away. I also do this for love of family. I get to work with my mother, her sister-in-law, my nephew, my niece and Mother's nephew. The younger generation interns during the summer. It truly is a family business.

What was your Catalyst? (How did you get started?)

My mother was constantly re-decorating friend's home and actually helped me with my first S. Tampa bungalow. Our motto was always, "Spend wise, live rich." So we sourced furniture consignment stores a lot. While we managed some treasures now and then, we were always disappointed in how crowded and dumpy the few stores looked. At that same time, we both wanted career changes and were determined to start a business together. "What if a furniture consignment store looked like a new furniture store? What if the quality was controlled? What if we hired designers to put the furniture together in room arrangements?" The Missing Piece was born.

What’s a common misconception or unknown aspect of what you do?

I think my mother and I were most surprised at how challenging it is to control the quality of what is consigned. There is still a common misconception that consignment furniture means a thrift store. So consignors think we take anything and everything, and when we refuse a piece (which is about 40 percent of what is offered to us) it can become very emotional. New shoppers to our stores are often pleasantly shocked at how nice pieces are at such a great price. However, some new shoppers are surprised they can’t find a $25 beat-up dining table. The Missing Piece put a new light on how used furniture can be sold.

What’s the most challenging part of your Hustle?

To hold to our original vision of offering only the best in the best light.

What’s the most valuable piece of business advice/insight that’s helped you?

Never confuse your long-term goals with your short-term goals.

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