Fully furnished

When Deb Bluestein made the decision to move across the water from Kirkland to Seattle in the mid-90s, she was left in a peculiar position.

She had plenty of like-new furniture in her three-bedroom home, but found it would be too large for her new condo.

“I thought, what are my options if I don’t want to put an ad in the classifieds section of the newspaper and have strangers come to my house?”

Of course, this was before the advent of Craigslist and various other online outlets.

Eventually, she just gave away the various pieces to friends, but the question stuck with her.

While there were a pair of consignment stores in Bellevue, Bluestein realized that no one else had attempted to establish a similar shop for higher-end pieces in the area. So that’s exactly what she did, opening a storefront on Western Avenue, despite continually asking herself, “if this is such a good idea, why hasn’t anybody else done it?”

Those fears would quickly be proven unfounded. 

“After being open for six weeks,” she said, “I never had to look for furniture again.”

Now, after seven years on Denny Way, Modele’s Home Furnishings has made its way to Magnolia, opening in late June in the former Leroux location at 3220 W. McGraw St.

Over the years, Bluestein said her business has developed a standing as having the best pieces of its kind in town.

“We have the reputation as being the pickiest, but we also have the reputation of having the best pieces, the highest-end pieces,” she said.

Bluestein, who moved to Magnolia three years ago, said the location suits her lifestyle, but it’s also good for business. For one, it helps to be around plenty of homeowners. But it also has gotten harder to do business in the city center.

“Just as it’s getting more difficult for small businesses to do business in downtown, I think it’s also getting more difficult for people to drive downtown to go shopping,” she said.

Modele’s was forced out of its previous location in South Lake Union to make way for an apartment tower, and while many of her customers assumed she would end up in the south end of Seattle, it didn’t seem like the right fit.

But that mindset would bode well in getting her regulars to make the trek across the bridge.

“The way I looked at it was if they’re willing to go to SODO or Georgetown, Magnolia is actually closer,” she said.

Thus far, Bluestein said she’s really pleased with how business has gone in the new location. What’s been surprising, however, is how many of her patrons are getting their first taste of the neighborhood.

“I can’t believe the number of regular customers — people I’ve done business with for 20 years — that say, ‘We’ve never explored Magnolia,’” she said.

Now, she said, many of them are visiting the shop, and then getting a cup of coffee or stopping somewhere for lunch.

“I love that they are coming to see me,” she said, “but they’re discovering other places in the Village. That’s just great for everybody.”

After celebrating the business’s 21st anniversary earlier this month, Bluestein said she’s still having fun with her work, which she considers equally important as making a living. The recycling aspect of consignment, something she said wasn’t really discussed when she started the business, is another plus.

But the most rewarding part is the people that come through the door.

“It’s the customers,” she said. “I’ve been in business long enough that I’ve actually seen kids grow up, go out on their own, and come to me saying, ‘Now I need you to help me furnish my first apartment.’ That’s been the best part.”


For more information on Modele’s visit www.modelesfurniture.com.