Shop Talk Interviews: Stoney Clover Lane

Meet Penn

Penn larocci is a born and raised New Orleanian. After graduating from Tulane University, she lived in NYC for nine years working in sales in marketing at an invest­ment bank. When she missed New Orleans more than she could stand, she moved back home, met her husband and started a family. She’s now raising two rambunctious little boys and spending her free time on envi­ronmental sustainability projects.

It will come as no surprise that, like most divertissements in this storied city of ours, the estate sales here have a culture of their own. The patrons of local estate sales are a rich Gumbo of repeat characters all vying for a unique find at a great price. Perhaps, it’s our affinity for old, beautiful things (like New Orleans itself) or maybe because (like it or not) we are always up for an adventure. Could it even be that, like catching Mardi Gras beads, we deeply understand the competitive pursuit for something pretty? One can easily use the same elbow maneuver to score a half priced Chippendale chest as they would trying to catch a handful of plastic pearls. Most likely, it’s the result of all the above that give our estate shoppers their flair.

What if you covet the old, beautiful findings of an estate sale but lack time for the hunt? Well, then Melissa Wogan, owner and curator of sidehaul, is your new best friend. She does the leg work, combing through myriad sales to deliver a small, curated catalog of items. You can trust that she’s on the case. She says, “once, I got in line for an estate sale at 2:30 a.m. Sometimes, there are just things you cannot miss!” Her treasures are sold exclusively through her Instagram page, and she posts new items weekly. She also offers full estate sale management for entire homes. We chat with her this month to learn more about the exciting and often quirky aspects of her vocation.

What do you enjoy most about your work? I didn’t realize there was such a ‘krewe’ of repeat antique buyers, sellers, movers and shakers in town. The best part has been meeting new people and connecting over a shared knowledge of décor. I have estate sale friends that I basically only see on Saturday mornings at 4 a.m., waiting out on the sidewalk. I’m a native New Orleanian, but sidehaul has opened a whole new corridor of the city for me. It’s an incredibly supportive community, online and in line.

What sets you apart from other resale vendors? I stick to my personal style and follow one golden rule when sourcing; if I wouldn’t put it in my own house, I don’t post it. This keeps my account curated and consistent. On the other hand, I haven’t committed to a specific genre or time period, which allows me to feature whatever I think is interesting or unusual.

What’s the most exciting item you have seen hunting for an antique? Finding prominent regional art is always exciting. An early turning point for sidehaul was when I snagged a rare Ida Kohlmeyer print from a local sale. Kohlmeyer kicked off her art career as a mother in her 30s, and her story has resonated with me as I’ve expanded my side gig.

How do the logistics work after a purchase? Quick and easy! My background is in education and thus communication is a priority. All can be done via phone, email or Instagram. Customers pick up from me directly, sometimes as quickly as the next day. My flexible schedule lends itself to working out the particulars.

You can follow sidehaul on Instagram at @sidehaulnola.