Mike Melvin describes My City Life as the “Marshalls that married the antiques road show.”
The owner of the furniture decor and antique consignment business has opened its third store in Atlantic Canada, at the Sunnyside Mall in Bedford, Nova Scotia, with plans to grow the business with more locations.
Melvin spent some time years ago working in Alberta’s oilsands, flying back and forth from the western province to his home in New Brunswick.
“That’s where I kind of picked up on the idea for this business while living there and seeing all the consignment stores in Calgary,” said Melvin. “And when I got back to New Brunswick and saw that there was nothing like it there I decided to put my own twist on it a little bit and a business was born.”
Melvin is based in Saint John, New Brunswick.
“I have just incorporated a business called Consignment Canada. As I’m growing I’m finding people want to do business with a corporation versus a name. I thought Consignment Canada would be something we could take across the country and it would be a little more acceptable and people would understand better what it is we’re doing now versus the My City Life, which I love the idea. I love the name My City Life. But I guess I have to make sure people understand what it is we do,” he said.
“We’re a furniture decor and antique consignment shop but we also have new items. We have new decor and we mix it with the old. So ultimately when I get into my larger stores as time will pass the goal is to become the Marshalls that meets the antique road show. Mix it all together.”
The company also has two stores in Saint John. Melvin started building the business in August 2019. The first store opened in September 2019 in a 300-square-foot space. The streetfront store opened in the uptown core of Saint John. The two stores are now located in Brunswick Square, literally three doors away from each other. The Bedford store and one of the Saint John stores are about 4,000 square feet.
“The biggest problem I have to growth is not inventory by any means. I started with 300 square feet. I now have 24,000 square feet in three stores. The biggest problem I have, the barrier to entry, is that other leaseholders in the places I want to be have restrictive covenants that disallow the sale of used goods,” said Melvin.
“Or certain parts of my product line. So I have to be careful as to what I can sell in each location. Because of me wanting to get into larger stores, also affordability has been a factor as we build. We do okay. We do $300,000 a year. We’ve done $1 million since we started this thing. I see it growing bigger. A 10,000-plus square-foot store that should scale up quite nicely.
“We focus on helping people. Most are downsizing or moving to one spot or another but we see a lot of seniors going to apartments or assisted living.
We’re not the antique store you’d expect. We position ourselves in malls and high traffic areas that surprises everyone that wanders in. We currently have three stores and soon adding many more. Our five-year plan is to be in every major centre in the Maritimes. Our 20-year plan is to create a legacy that will be the first place people in Canada think of furniture decor and antiques.
“I’ve already considered looking at space in Edmonton, Alberta and St. John’s Newfoundland. Unfortunately I think steps going away from my home base is just not feasible until I can get into a little more secure position to make sure I know exactly what my numbers are going to be.”