I’ve always heard that the key to a retail business’s success is location, location, location.
But with the Sara Sells sale, which is held one day a month out in the boondocks, the key seems to be price, style and availability.
Sara Sells is a monthly shopping event offering furniture, home decor, lighting, rugs and more at 40%-60% off retail pricing — in College Grove, Tennessee, of all places.
Nothing wrong with College Grove, but it is just not a typical shopping destination — except on that one day a month when Sara Young opens her doors to throngs of eager shoppers looking for the RH, or West Elm or Pottery Barn ‘‘look” and quality, at prices more like those at Rooms to Go or Ashley Furniture.
For example, Sara Sells has upholstered sofas in a similar style to the RH or West Elm models for $1,399 or $1,699, compared with $2,000 or $2,500 at some of the big-name stores.
“It is not cheap quality for cheap pricing. It is high quality for less. We buy in volume so we get the lowest prices, and we operate with a low overhead,” she said. “That keeps the prices down. And we like the warehouse vibe.”
Young, who is a mother of four, has been dealing furniture since 2016, when she started “just for fun” bidding on pieces and reselling them on Craigslist and local buy-sell trade sites from her Franklin garage.
She bought a truck and eventually ramped up her business with a Lebanon warehouse. Now she and her husband, Jim, who joined the company several years ago, go to six furniture markets a year and buy from multiple vendors, and even have their own manufacturers for some of the pieces.
Sara Sells has almost 40,000 followers on Facebook and 50,000 on Instagram, and has doubled the size of the College Grove warehouse from 6,000 to 12,000 square feet. Young has also opened a similar operation in a 30,000-square-foot warehouse in Eads, Tennessee, east of Memphis. And she is looking at other location opportunities.
Volume is the key, says Young, who says 90% of the items on the sale floor have back stock in the warehouse so that shoppers can have same-day pickup. The most popular items are sofas, chairs and stools, but she also has a lot of choices in contemporary dining tables and a few outdoor pieces.
“People are loving that they can see the pieces, sit on them and take them home that day,” she said. “People come from all over Middle Tennessee and from as far away as Knoxville, Huntsville and Birmingham. I think it’s the quality, the price point and that the availability is immediate,” she said.
That ability to make a purchase on the spot is especially important, she said, since many traditional furniture stores are experiencing supply chain challenges that delay deliveries by weeks or even months.
Each month, on the designated sale weekend, there is one in-person shopping day on Saturday and an online shopping day on Sunday. The next in-person sale is May 15 at the warehouse at 8436 Horton Highway in College Grove.
The Saturday in-person sale days are just five hours, and organizers heighten the appeal by having food trucks and music in the parking lot where shoppers line up to get their chance to shop.
“People comment on how much fun it is,” Young said. “A lot of people come every month just to see what is new.” And she says that almost all of the shoppers buy “something.”
“It might just be a dish towel or something small, but then when they need a bigger piece, they are familiar with us,” she said.
Mary Hance, who has four decades of journalism experience in the Nashville area, writes a weekly Ms. Cheap column for MainStreet Media. She also appears on Thursdays on Talk of the Town on NewsChannel5. Reach her at email@example.com and follow her on Facebook at facebook.com/mscheap.