18 Aug ‘Golden Ticket’: Coral Banquette Sold For $50 Makes Huge Splash
To those who first saw it on social media, the pink-hued, high-backed sectional on sale for $50 at a Nashville Goodwill store looked like a bargain ripe for the picking. But to “lifelong Goodwiller” Stephanie Bowman, it looked like the end to a years-long quest.
After Stephanie and her husband moved to East Nashville from Vermont in 2013, she set about trying to furnish and decorate their new home in a way that would stand out from the crowd. Many of her finds came from Goodwill.
“I think originality and uniqueness are super important in my home and my clothes as well. That’s why I buy second-hand things,” Stephanie says. “If you go to a furniture store, everyone’s buying the same thing. But if you want to put together something one-of-a-kind, you have to think outside the box in the way you source things.”
Knowing that purchases from Goodwill are environmentally sustainable and support a nonprofit that gives back to the community through free training and employment programs is icing on the cake, she adds.
In her home’s kitchen nook, Stephanie paired an oblong table, a bejewelled drum chandelier and a baroque ebony mirror with floral wallpaper in shades of scarlet. Along with other touches, they added up to exactly the luxurious, Bohemian aesthetic she envisioned. But a key ingredient was missing: the right seating.
Stephanie — a self-described “chronic shopper” who works in book publishing — tried several different thrifted seats and benches, but all were disappointing. She would use them awhile, then donate them to Goodwill. Then, on Aug. 5, Stephanie was scrolling through Instagram when she saw the photo of what she recognized as a coral velvet, tufted banquette.
“It was iconic Nashville. Very classic and cool, but also edgy,” she recalled. “It’s exactly what I would have designed for my dining area.”
The photo had originally been posted by Goodwill supporter and actress Elisabeth Donaldson, who spotted the banquette at Goodwill’s Berry Road store. Stephanie saw a repost of the photo on the Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee Instagram account. By that point, hundreds of other people had also seen — and liked — the photo.
Among them was thrifted fashion influencer Savannah Lowe.
“It was just too good,” Savannah recalls. “I saw it two hours after it was shared, and I was like, ‘There’s no way it is still there.’” I knew if I got to the store and it was already gone I would be even more upset, so I decided I would just wait to see who got it and be happy for them.”
Stephanie couldn’t leave home immediately, so she begged a friend to drive to the store and see if the banquette might still be there. When Stephanie’s friend arrived, she found the banquette on the sales floor but receiving lots of attention from shoppers.
The banquette’s sales tag, which a customer would present to a cashier to make the purchase, was nowhere to be seen. Everyone apparently thought someone else beat them to the punch.
“My friend started searching and found the tag under the cushions. So, yes — I got the golden ticket,” Stephanie says, chuckling at her “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” reference.
By the time Stephanie could arrive at the store, buy the banquette and rent a truck to haul it home, more than a dozen people had attempted to purchase it from her. She certainly did not blame them for trying.
Stephanie, whose mother owned a consignment store, believes the banquette may have originally cost as much as $10,000. It has no maker’s mark and was almost certainly custom-made. Except for a few small stains, which Stephanie removed using a Bissell steam cleaner she previously bought at Goodwill, the banquette was in perfect condition.
“It’s incredible I got it for $50,” she says. “Middle Tennessee Goodwills are the best Goodwills I ever shopped, but this was an absolute steal.”
Now nestled perfectly in Stephanie’s dining area, the banquette has been commandeered by her “fur babies.” She says her three cats prefer it to all other lounging areas. They are gracious enough to share it with her while she works from home each day. But the unique banquette is still drawing attention from the outside world — a lot of attention.
Stephanie posted about finding the banquette on a popular Facebook group called, “Weird Secondhand Finds That Just Need To Be Shared.” After just one day, her post had received more than 22,000 likes. Admirers also left 1,400 comments, ranging from “Omg it was SO made for your house!!!” to “$50 I’m shook” to “Goodwills have Instagram pages?”
Yes, they do, Stephanie notes, and it pays to follow them.