The Local Vault filled with decorative treasures

Betsy Perry, Patricia Espinosa, Julie Rubich and Joannie Buhrendorf, from left, have launched The Local Vault. Photograph courtesy The Local Vault.

The Local Vault has opened, and its contents are quite stylish.

They are also thoughtfully edited, sometimes playful and always community-sourced.

TLV is a Greenwich-based online marketplace designed for buying and selling “pre-loved” upscale home furnishings and decorative accessories.

Patricia Espinosa, whose work has appeared in Wag, is sitting down with me soon after TLV’s early-October launch to fill us in on the venture in which she is a founding partner.

“It’s exciting. It’s been a whirlwind,” she says with a smile.

Indeed, Espinosa is more than enthusiastic about the business that taps into her longtime love of interior design, treasure-hunting and writing.

TLV teams her with fellow Greenwich residents Julie Rubich and Betsy Perry and Perry’s sister Joannie Buhrendorf of Fairfield.

Together, the women have decades of experience in design, event planning, real estate staging, marketing, photography and writing. Espinosa says each partner draws on her background and personality to contribute everything from photography to networking to, yes, a sense of humor and whimsy.

TLV, she adds, has an edge.

“The secret sauce is that it’s hyper-local. We’re really targeting a one-hour radius,” focusing on the region the partners know so well.

“This area has its own look, its own style,” she says.

And it has its own needs. Sometimes, Espinosa says, it’s a client moving quickly for a job.

“It’s such a stressful thing,” Espinosa says. “The last thing you want to deal with is selling furniture on eBay.”

Other times, it’s those simply freshening their surroundings.

“Frankly, you’d be surprised how many of our clients are just redecorating.”

Espinosa says TLV was designed to fill the void when the online estate-sale company Everything But The House – which Espinosa profiled for WAG – “pulled out of the area.”

“When they left we thought someone should be doing this,” Espinosa says. “The need exists.”

So, TLV was born after some 10 months of customized development.

The company will make its mark, Espinosa says, through its “white-glove” solution. TLV team members visit with a homeowner, determine which items they will feature, agree on a price and then photograph the goods on site.

The items are then introduced online in artful vignettes, though the elements are sold individually.

“We wanted to give (buyers) inspiration,” Espinosa says of the approach.

Goods are sold following a10-day “flash sale” model, with sale price shared between seller and TLV. Recent offerings included a custom-upholstered mahogany chair (estimated retail of $2,700) for $650, while an oak farm table with a leaf ($2,200) could be snagged for $600.

If items don’t sell, the owner can opt to retain them or move them to the sidewalk sale.

Shoppers, Espinosa explains, also come out ahead buying from a curated selection of local goods.

“It doesn’t make sense to buy something pre-owned from California and have it shipped to you. It ceases to be a deal.”

Espinosa says that early buyers seem to be young families seeking affordable furnishings with flair, so pre-owned fits the bill.

“They want that style but don’t necessarily want to wait for things.”

While the furnishings and decorative goods form the heart of TLV, the site also showcases artists and vendors handpicked by the founders.

“People are going there already, and once they’re there we want to tempt them with all these other things,” she says.

Whether it’s a photographer, jewelry designer or even someone with a fledgling granola company, small businesses in the community can be strengthened by the exposure, Espinosa says.

“We can provide people a stepping-stone.”

And it also reinforces TLV’s sensibility.

Another such element is the blog that gives a glimpse into each partner’s personality as they cover topics ranging from fashion to entertaining.

“We’re writing about a housewarming in Old Greenwich,” Espinosa says. “It’s not all about us. We’re spreading the love.”

Still, raising TLV’s profile is key.

“Our challenge is to get the word out,” Espinosa says.

That’s done in modes contemporary (social media) to classic (setting up a table at the newcomers’ fair). In addition, Espinosa says, TLV is working to introduce its services to real estate companies that “can bring the buyer and the seller to us” and with local stores to incorporate their goods within the vignettes.

With positive early feedback, Espinosa says the TLV team is already looking ahead.

“Our end goal is we’d love to franchise this.”

So far, all is proceeding as planned, Espinosa says.

“You know, you put four women together and it could be a recipe for disaster, but it works for us. So far, it’s been magic.”

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