BRIDGEPORT — Walking through the massive Coyle & Herr consignment showroom is like stepping through a photo shoot for a home furnishings magazine, one tastefully designed set piece at a time.
Sleek desks and dining tables here, vintage bookcases and barware there.
“We originally thought we had enough [furnishings] for about 4,000 square feet, but we quickly filled up 12,000,” said co-owner Dorothy “Dot” Coyle.
Coyle, of Sauganash, is the former executive director of the city’s office of tourism and culture. She paired up with her business partner, the architect and designer Mary Beth Herr, to open the showroom in the first floor of the Bridgeport Art Center, 1200 W. 35th St. in 2011, first as a space for 10-day sales and now into a six-day-a-week business.
Some of the inventory comes from Chicago's Leslie Hindman Auctioneers, which sends some of its not-quite-auction ready items to the warehouse. Others comes from consignors, who send unwanted furniture to the store for 90 days.
If it sells, Coyle and Herr divvy up the proceeds with the owner. If it doesn't, the store arranges for donations to charity or the owner can reclaim it.
The space is packed with furniture, furnishings and artwork ranging in styles from "Mad Men" mod to "Downton Abbey" stately. It’s an interior designer’s dream.
“It’s really an eclectic mix … traditional, mid-century and contemporary. It’s a cultural ecosystem in itself,” Coyle said.
Coyle said her background with the city’s tourism office — where she’d orchestrate temporary installations and exhibitions across Chicago — dovetails with the shop’s ever-changing inventory.
In fact, it’s the company’s tagline: “A carefully edited furniture selection, constantly refreshed with inspiring new pieces.”
Among the pleasures of the job, they said, are referring buyers to local upholstery and refinishing companies to spruce up an older piece with “good bones."
“It’s a sincere form of recycling,” said Herr, of Oak Park.
And it’s not all for high-end shoppers. There are deep discounts to be found throughout the store — check their social media accounts for alerts on special sales.
For those not making the trek to Bridgeport, some of their inventory is available at the online home decor site One Kings Lane.
The pair say they’re all about Bridgeport’s burgeoning cultural scene.
They promote the building’s art gallery openings, enlist local photographer Scott Thompson to photograph their inventory and send suburban and out-of-state visitors to nearby restaurants.
But they’ve also made the store a destination all its own.
Besides getting lost among the sculptures and wall art and sofas, shoppers can take part in a number of events at the space.
On Sunday, the business will host New York Times bestselling author Bruce Feiler for a discussion of his book, “The Secrets of Happy Families.”
The event takes place 11 a.m.-noon.
Coyle & Herr is open from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays to Saturdays, and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sundays.