If there’s one decorating trend which never goes out of style, it’s vintage—sleek, classy and nostalgic, people can’t seem to get enough of it. Pittsburgh has its share of vintage furniture stores, but perhaps none so under-the-radar as Second Chance Furniture, which opened in Shadyside last year.
Owner Rene Ranieri, a native Californian who, with her husband, spent the last dozen years in Florida managing medical practices, came north to Pittsburgh a few years ago to do the same with a family member. When that venture ended, Rene knew she wanted to try something else.
“We had moved a lot, so we were used to buying and selling furniture, and I’ve been going to auctions and estate sales as a hobby for about 20 years,” she says.
That’s what prompted the Ranieris to start a vintage furniture store in the basement of the Cavendish, an apartment building at 226 Shady Avenue which for 50 years housed Minutello’s Italian Restaurant which closed in 2013.
To occupy the space which had served as the restaurant’s bar, Ranieri not only filled it with all vintage art and trinkets, she transformed it into an in-store coffee shop, featuring beans from local roaster Commonplace. While Second Chance has developed a steady customer base within the Shadyside community, Ranieri now sees the store as a space for gatherings, events, or even a neighborhood hangout.
“We’ve got a nice ambience for doing that kind of thing down here, “she says, adding that customers love to have a cup of coffee while looking around.
Despite the increasing popularity of auctions and estate sales, Ranieri does her best to keep prices well in the range of reasonable, explaining that she’d rather price items low and keep the inventory constantly changing than have items sit for months with high price tags on them. Not only is she constantly shopping for new pieces, she’s happy to take vintage furniture on consignment.
“We knew nothing about Shadyside [when we moved here]. We’d never heard of it,” she says. “We learned pretty quickly that there are a lot of decorators in the area, and the movie set buyers started coming in, and they bought things for the Will Smith movie or the Vin Diesel movie. I’m excited to watch the movies to see my stuff.”