For several weeks this past summer, visitors to Le Shoppe Modern in Keego Harbor were greeted by a monumental painting by renowned pop artist Roy Lichtenstein.
The colorful, showstopping piece — hung over classic 20th-century furniture arranged in eye-catching vignettes — is just one of countless special objects sold by Le Shoppe over the years. And it’s a fitting introduction to the 25,000-square-foot showroom, which feels closer to a lovingly curated museum than your average antiques store.
Until earlier this year, Le Shoppe Modern was known as Le Shoppe Too — so named for the two businesses (consignment and estate sales) operating under its one roof. But as the company’s list of services grew, co-owners Julie Sundberg and Deborah Slobin decided it was time for a rebrand. The new name reflects the shop’s focus on rare, iconic objects from the Midcentury Modern era to the present.
What is now metro Detroit’s largest upscale home goods consignment store started in 2013 in a 3,000-square-foot storefront in Walled Lake, close to Sundberg’s home. Before opening the shop, neither Slobin nor Sundberg had much retail experience, but Sundberg had always loved fixing up and reselling antique furniture, and she knew Slobin to be a great resale shopper in their circles.
“When I saw that the space was available, I called Deborah up and asked, ‘Hey, you maybe want to open a store?’” Sundberg says. “Neither one of us had a lot of extra money, but the beauty of consignment is that people bring things to you, so you don’t have to purchase a lot of inventory. We just got started and busted our butts.”
“We had a passion and were going to get through every obstacle,” Slobin says. “We knew within a year that we were going to need a bigger boat.”
The “bigger boat” was their Keego Harbor showroom, which they gradually took over floor by floor. Most recently, they added an additional 3,000-square-foot annex with gallery space and room to host special events.
The co-owners credit their success to the “three D’s” — determination, dedication, and discipline — along with savvy business tactics, a passionate team that feels like family, and the timelessness of great 20th-century furniture and art.
Sundberg and Slobin decided early on to pair consignment with estate sales: When a piece doesn’t sell at an estate sale, it can go to Le Shoppe for consignment. Quarterly auctions were the next addition, and the two women added Terri Stearn — founder of Detroit Fine Art Appraisals, and now co-owner of Le Shoppe Auction House — into the mix.
“When I came here, they had really cool art, but it was more decorative,” Stearn says. “I had these clients who wanted to sell big names, like Warhol and John Singer Sargent.”
“It was a perfect marriage,” Slobin says. “We worked really well together, and we happened to like each other, too.” The growing staff’s enthusiasm for their work (and for one another) drew art consultant Trista Leigh Maltby and experienced eBay seller Harry Nouhan to Le Shoppe. With Maltby and Nouhan coordinating auctions and e-commerce, the shop now offers thousands of listings online, with descriptions and curation that rival a world-class museum’s.
Le Shoppe Modern draws a global clientele for its online auctions but is proudly based in metro Detroit. The unique pieces in the shop are a tribute to the wealth and power of the automotive industry.
“Detroit is known as the hub for really good midcentury modern,” Slobin says. “You walk into these houses, and you’re just blown away by the design, the art, the furniture.”
The staff at Le Shoppe are enthralled by the history of these special objects. While much of today’s mass-produced furniture lasts just three to five years, the pieces in the showroom have stood the test of time. And in 2023, amid concerns about the post-pandemic supply chain and the amount of waste put into the environment, the case for investing in high-quality resale pieces has never been stronger.
Though walking into a space filled with furniture made by iconic designers like Herman Miller and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe might seem intimidating, the team insists that there’s no special training necessary to appreciate great art.
“I have absolutely no background or schooling in design,” Slobin says. “I just found a passion for learning the stories behind the designers.”
For anyone wondering where to begin when it comes to modern art and furniture, Maltby says, “The more you surround yourself with it, the more you read or go to museums or galleries or stores, the more you’ll learn to trust your gut.”
Slobin agrees. “If you come into our store and never buy anything from us, that really isn’t important. What’s important to me is that you come in and you feel the joy and connection to us and the space.”
This story is from the October 2023 issue of Hour Detroit magazine. Read more in our digital edition.