Consumer confidence or barter buyer?

Furniture was often put to the wayside on budgets, but new buyers are finding way to purchase more luxe items

Getting luxe for less.

Perhaps it isn't consumer confidence boosting the economy: The owner of an up-and-coming furniture store, Milestone Trading Company, says it is a new kind of buyer.

"The customer is changing everything from that perspective not only from what it is that they're looking to spend they're also looking to bargain in a different way," says Scott Cowart, owner of Milestone Trading Company on Broad Avenue in Downtown Albany. "It's not the sticker price that I see and 'It's $499 or out the door,' it is 'I love what you have here are you willing to take X?' and then it's a decision making process."

The new barter buyer is just one of the inspirations behind Cowart to open his eclectic furniture store that caters to what customers of today want: "A different path to get that same feel and look that they were looking for without spending thousands of dollars to get it," he says.

Also noticing the uptick in the economy and consumer confidence is Henry Campbell Steakhouse in a plaza off North Westover Boulevard. With 13 reservations on Friday night, Henry Campbell's is grilling up steaks and business.

"I think the economy definitely has a major factor in our business picking up," says General Manager Jonathan Nance. "I've only been here four months but over the past four months I've seen it pick up from when I started here."

He also says customers are looking for less expensive menu options that offer the same quality as more expensive ones.

"You can get a burger and a drink or a couple drinks and have a good time without spending an outrageous amount of money," says Nance.

Cowart says opening his store is a milestone in his life; the economy has reached a different milestone of its own where the key to a successful business is tailoring to the customer, offering luxe for less.

"For me I get more of an understanding of where they're coming from, what's tailoring to them but moreover what they're really willing to spend in this economy," says Cowart.

Milestone Trading Company is scheduled to open mid-January.