Upscale Resale CT: New Canaan Women’s Online Consignment Service Fills a Local Niche


Jane Ponterotto encountered some strange behaviors as she researched online services to help sell furniture as her family downsized its home within New Canaan last year.

With their kids getting older and a shifting tax burden in town, the Ponterottos did what many New Canaanites do: They moved out of the large home they’d known for more than 20 years, in this case down the street and into a house less than half its size.

Seeking a good price for select furniture pieces she no longer needed, Ponterotto herself looked into tag sale companies, but found that fees for ads, signage and manpower made little sense given that the sale itself was largely weather-dependent and hit-or-miss.

Some online “services” carried the red flags of a scam by demanding bank routing numbers over the Internet, and one woman who responded to a Craigslist ad showed up at Ponterotto’s home about 10 minutes after emailing a response to it.

“She shows up and walks right in through the door, and I didn’t know who she was,” Ponterotto recalled. “Weird stuff like that was happening.”

Then through word of mouth, she learned of a locally owned and operated online furniture consignment business.

Sunan Jones (L) and Alicia Hart (R) launched Upscale Resale CT one year ago. The online consignment shop and service has seen steady growth in sellers and buyers. Credit: Michael Dinan

Sunan Jones (L) and Alicia Hart (R) launched Upscale Resale CT one year ago. The online consignment shop and service has seen steady growth in sellers and buyers. Credit: Michael Dinan

Launched one year ago this month by a pair of New Canaan woman who’d met while consulting separately for an estate sale company, Upscale Resale CT in a matter of months sold some 10 items from Ponterotto, including an English desk, leather chair and ottoman, George Smith settee and Turkish and Persian rugs.

“It was great,” Ponterotto said of her Upscale Resale CT experience.

“They are just so professional. They’re knowledgeable, they come out, take all the measurements, write up great descriptions, take great photos and make everything look the best. It’s just full service, and they have a really nice, easily navigable website.”

‘They’ are Alicia Hart and Sunan Jones, and the business they created one year ago (it’s here on Facebook, here on Pinterest) has seen steady growth in consignors, sales and reach as the women meet growing demand locally—and do so with what clients such as Ponterotto call professionalism, discretion, knowledge, responsiveness and trustworthiness.

Most of Upscale Resale CT’s consignors are from New Canaan, with a smattering from Darien, Wilton and Stamford, and they bring three to five nice items in good condition to sell, Hart and Jones said on a recent morning during an interview at CT Sandwich Co.

The consignors who come to Hart and Jones—“the items are upscale, but we’re not upscale in our personalities,” Jones said—often are looking for the relief of a brick-and-mortar consignment shop with more flexibility in terms of time and hassle in physically moving pieces. Upscale Resale CT at 40 percent takes a fee that’s competitive in the field, bringing a prospective buyer by appointment to see the item they want at the very end of the process.

“We try to simplify the process and make it super easy, so if you want to sell a piece of furniture, really the only thing you have to do is call us and we talk a little bit—and then we take care of every other detail,” said Jones, a New York City native who moved with her young family to New Canaan 10 years ago, two children now at Saxe and one at East. Jones had been president of the board of New Canaan Community Nursery School (now New Canaan Preschool at Kiwanis) and serves now as parent representative at New Canaan CARES for East School.

Hart is a 1984 Darien High School graduate and mother of four who has lived in New Canaan since 1989. A college grad like Jones, Hart has been deeply involved in the New Canaan Winter Club as a travel hockey manager and in youth sports generally in town, mostly lacrosse, hockey and wrestling (her kids’ sports), and had also worked closely with the Service League of Boys when one of her kids was involved with that group.

Each founder brings a unique set of skills to Upscale Resale CT.

Hart, who holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Connecticut in human development and family relations—and also owns and operates a separate organizing business, Simply Organized by Hart—had most recently managed the process by which clients who had an estate sale could sell leftover items.

“What I was seeing in estate sale is that there are people who want to sell furniture but don’t have whole-house contents,” Hart said. “They may not be moving. They may be redecorating a room.” And physically placing a piece of furniture for that room in a consignment shop may be difficult for the simple reason that the shop doesn’t have space for it, Hart said. (One of New Canaan’s two brick-and-mortar consignment shops, The Silk Purse, closed last summer after 41 years in business.)

Jones had studied politics and history at Oberlin College, and after a career in education in California, came to the estate sale company in New Canaan to help with the website and marketing.

One day last January, when the women hadn’t seen each other for a couple of months, Jones asked Hart to meet her for coffee at Le Pan Quotidien.

Jones recalled: “I reached out—‘Oh, I wanted to check and see how you are’—but really I wanted to do this business idea and it turned out, she said, ‘Oh I was going to email you and I would love to get together,’ and she opened her mouth to say exactly what I was about to say.”

And that was, Hart recalled, “To start a consignment business for people who only have a few items to sell, not a whole-house contents, and don’t want to do it themselves.”

And that could be for a number of reasons, the women said.

Sellers may be planning to move or even mid-move, may be seeing to de-clutter, may have found that their own children don’t want their furniture, or they may simply lack the time, patience or expertise to get the most value for what they’re selling.

“Over the years we had both been asked so many times, ‘Do you sell furniture?’ because it’s such a pain for people,” Jones said. “And they know that there is value in it and they feel bad about throwing it away, but they cannot or do not know how to manage it themselves. But we have that patience and experience. And really, what happened was the technology became much easier and we realized we could do this. We can do pretty much everything ourselves.”

That includes email blasts to a list of prospective buyers that has grown by 50 percent since June, and regularly updating a clean, intuitive website whose interactive functionality includes building a wish list and categories such as winter clearance, new arrivals and “get it quick” smaller items as well as testimonials and a wide range of categories for shoppers.

Upscale Resale CT has joined the New Canaan Chamber of Commerce. The chamber’s Laura Budd said the organization “loves working with all kinds of local business especially ‘homegrown’ entrepreneurs such as Alicia and Sunan.”

“Their business model is unique and we believe they will have much success in this market,” Budd said.

New Canaan’s aging demographics, trend toward smaller in-town living and priority among planning officials to create more housing in the downtown all point in the direction of greater need for services such as those Hart and Jones are offering.

Yet for Jones, the “changing landscape” of New Canaan has only been on the women’s radar insofar as the economic downtown seven years ago has led more people to seek a deal.

“New Canaan was far from insulated and you could see among all levels of people that they started looking for better values in what’s needed,” Jones said. “Their needs went away. There were always those of us who are looking for that, and there people who didn’t need to, then all of a sudden we had more people who needed to find good value.”

One thought on “Upscale Resale CT: New Canaan Women’s Online Consignment Service Fills a Local Niche

  1. I would love to sell my bedroom and dining room furniture. I’ve tried to send pictures but the email doesn’t go through. Please send me the proper address to send pictures.

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