Enterprise

City furniture seller finds niche in German antiques

Niche Decor’s sales representative Patricia Kathure makes a point during the interview. photo | Francis nderitu
Niche Decor’s sales representative Patricia Kathure makes a point during the interview. photo | Francis nderitu 

It’s a busy afternoon at Niche Décor Furniture, two clients seek the attention of Patricia Kathure while another customer is packing some collector plates. “1792” is inscribed on them.

“That is the year they were made”, Ms Patricia offers. Located along Kabarnet Road, off Ngong Road, Niche Décor Furniture is antique shop that sells products from Germany such as furniture and houseware.

Placed in different corners of the bungalow house are corner units that dates back to the ‘80s while the wall is adorned with oil paintings with each bearing creator’s signature.

In another room, a grandfather clock chimes. Ms. Kathure explains that unlike modern clocks that use batteries, it uses gravity and weight.

Rose Karimi, the proprietor says she realised Kenyans’ love for vintage and antique and saw a business opportunity three years ago.

“I have furnished my house with antique and vintage products from Germany. Each time I hosted guests, they were much interested in the products and enquiries on how they can get such kept coming.”

With a saving of Sh3 million, Ms Karimi brought in her first consignment from Germany in 2014 with some items selling out in less than five months.

“At the time, I only marketed the products through word of mouth and I was amazed at how much people were interested in them.”

However, she is quick to point out that it was not easy starting out because she had to traverse Germany collecting the items. She has a team of trusted collectors in different parts of the country.

According to Ms Kathure, some of the fast selling antique products in the shop include corner units, sofas and dining sets.

Niche’s furniture are made of mahogany, walnut and oak, she says.

“The furniture features classical designs such as Victoria. They are joined together using knobs and joints in place of nails.”

Other household items include utensils, kitchenware, umbrella holders, beer mugs, antique candle holders and coat hangings.

Ms Karimi points out that the demand for antique and vintage products has grown over the years; she has opened a shop along Peponi Rise, Bella Maria’s Little Italy.

“Three years ago, we used to attend to about two people in day. The clientele has grown to almost 100 in a month with some clients paying for items two or three months in advance. The reason I settled on Germany is because having lived there, I can attest that most of the products are high quality and durable. I attribute the growth to that.”

Would customers pay more for her collections compared to the current rates of second hand furniture in Kenya, Ms Karimi used to worry before she launched the antiques shop

“Through this business, I have realised that with many Kenyans, quality comes first, price second. However, our rates are pocket friendly.”

Today, Niche Décor Furniture is not only a retailer but also a wholesaler of antique and vintage products.

If the old adage “old is gold” is anything to go by, the business of antique and vintage products can only be expected to flourish.