Another year has passed – It’s hard to believe I have been in the furniture business for seven years.
Seven years ago it was just a little side hobby (obsession), and only until the economy turned around… now I have been doing this job longer than I have worked at any one individual company.
Over the years I have had a ton of people ask:
“How did you get started doing this?”
So, after 7 years, here is… The Story
It’s long – good luck getting through it – I couldn’t.
I have Internet-ADD, which is a diagnosis I’ve invented that explains why I can never finish an article online – I just like the summaries with photos….that’s sad, I know….
But if you are interested, here is How It All Began….
Today I have three kids - the oldest is 16, my second is 14 and the youngest is 12. Sixteen years ago, when my oldest arrived, I left work and stayed home with him. We really got into the kid thing. Before I knew it, I was home with three little ones and all my dress suits, which hung in the back of my closet, were finally donated to the Goodwill (way out of style by then).
Those were some crazy, exhausting, and wonderful years. (For those of you with young kids at home, with hindsight, everything gets rosier and I now look at those pre-school years with nostalgia - however, I remember a lot of days when I craved a glass of wine at 10am - and I faintly recall there was always crying and screaming going on - some of it from the kids.)
Fast forward nine years….In 2008, my youngest started pre-school and I had a whopping 3 hours to myself 3 times a week! So, of course, I decided it was time to go back to work.
If you recall the Fall of 2008, the economy was in a freefall collapse - my industry - the world of publishing, writing and editing was taking a major hit with newspapers and magazines folding by the hour. There were writers with thirty years of experience taking freelance web work. It was that bad. I had done a little freelance work over the stay-at-home years, but not enough to compete for a job with veteran writers and editors who flooded Monster.com with amazing and current resumes.
I had been collecting 1960s furniture for a few years (it wasn't called Mid Century Modern back then, it was called "old junk" by most people.) However, I didn't mean to start collecting anything and didn’t realize that I was collecting a specific style.
My "collecting" began when I needed some dressers and money was tight (3 kids and one paycheck from a very patient, awesome guy). So, I went to an ARC thrift store - the one on Illiff and Quebec to be exact - and I wandered through their junky old furniture. Two items caught my eye -- they looked something like this:
Only they were in such bad shape -- literally stained, chipped, the desk was partially painted.
The American of Martinsville side table smelled like pipe smoke and had water rings all over it. Neither one was a dresser, but something about their simple lines in my chaotic world of primary colors and plastic toys - spoke to me.
I didn't buy them. I came home and talked about them. And I talked. And I talked. And I talked. Now, the kids were really little, they didn't listen to me which left only one person to take all my chatter - that same great guy who was bringing in all the dough.
The next week, I found myself back at that Thrift Store and those two pieces were still there. (That was back when you could find MCM furniture at the Thrift store and nobody wanted it.) I called that great guy again and started to talk about the furniture.
I debated with myself about spending $40 for the two items while he kept telling me to buy them. I stood in the store for about thirty minutes until I heard an echo of my husband’s voice behind me.
As we had been talking on our cell phones, he had left work and driven to the store. I think he must have been reaching a mental breaking point and could not take another second of my indecision.
He hung up, bought the two pieces of furniture and loaded them in my car. After that, whenever I could, I grabbed up furniture that had that same stream-lined look. Back then it was everywhere - in alleys, garage sales, family basements, junk stores….I was grabbing all I could find and refinishing them.
Jump ahead two years…..if there was a style called Mid Century Modern Hoarder – I was the inventor. My house was so crammed with MCM furniture that it defeated the MCM look of open space with simple lines.
In February of 2008 a friend of mine told me to put some of my excess pieces of furniture on Craigslist.
So I did.
No one wanted them.
I forgot all about the Craigslist listings until March 30th 2008. It just so happened that March 30th was the final day for the listings. That day, two women had been searching Craigslist for a table. They skipped to the very end of the listings and saw my table.
Within an hour, they emailed me, came and saw it, paid me money and left.
I was stunned.
But the best part of the whole transaction was that they told me I had listed the table in the wrong category (under collectables, not furniture). They had accidentally stumbled across it.
I checked my other listing for an MCM end table. It was in the wrong category too. I relisted it under furniture and it was sold in two hours.
It was great – I had many, many items to sell and so I started listing them like crazy. They all sold quickly.
Then along came Peter….Peter the Picker…Peter found me through craigslist. Peter is a Picker. He buys all sorts of stuff from furniture to bikes to vintage clothes and then sells them to interested buyers. Peter saw all my listings and thought I had a store.
He offered to sell me furniture “In-my-style” that needed repair. That week, Peter brought me a truck full of MCM furniture in various states of disrepair.
I bought it all.
I met more Pickers. I met dealers. I met Estate Liquidators.
And that is how the story began.
Seven years later, I have never gone “Back-to-work.”
I haven’t personally refinished any pieces for a few years. (A mild arthritis has taken a grip on my hands) I hire that out.
I had no idea that a few pieces of furniture in a Thrift Store would set me on this path for the next seven years. I still like to wander the thrift stores for old times sake, but it’s mostly a waste of time. (Although I did pick up a great shirt recently.)
I don’t think I will sell furniture forever. I’m forty-seven now and I’m pretty sure I have at least three more years of furniture selling in me – ten years is a nice even number.
I’ll be fifty then and all my kids will be in High School or College. After that, who knows…I may stumble into something else. By then I’ll be ready for a new adventure.
Thank You Denver Mid Century Enthusiasts for making this crazy business work for seven years – You guys are the BEST!!