By Jessica Isaacs | [email protected]
Photos by Ken Ketchie
David Gindlesperger, owner of Curiosity Consignment Mega Warehouse, says that’s the secret to success.
“Change when you need to and reinvent.”
That’s how he built his business, which is growing by leaps and bounds, and that’s also what he does with the one-of-a-kind pieces in his shop.
Curiosity offers 11,000 square feet of uniquely repurposed consignment furniture and has become a shopping destination for folks on and off the mountain. This weekend, it will open another 11,000 square feet of space in the same building, which will be home to a showroom and shop for the recently expanded salvage and reclaimed barn wood aspect of the business.
After a long career in the furniture industry and eight years in the High Country, Gindlesperger is now in the process of literally doubling his business; but, like most small business owners, he started out with a dream and a leap of faith.
“Eight years ago today, we drove into Boone and opened an 800 square foot shop called Curiosity along Highway 321, Blowing Rock Road in Boone, NC. Our hours didn’t exceed three days a week then, because we were struggling to drive back and forth in order to keep our home in Greensboro,” Gindlesperger wrote on the Curiosity Facebook page in early August. “We felt Boone was the best place to liquidate furniture and home décor inventory from our business that we closed in High Point when the 2007-2008 crash happened. We had been visiting Boone for years and loved it and had hopes to move one day.”
It wasn’t long before the business outgrew the first location, which sits across the highway from Walgreen’s in Boone, and soon moved down the road to a Blowing Rock location three times the size of its predecessor. There, he added a coffee bar, rented space to vendors and started consigning furniture. The following year, in 2012, he opened a second warehouse location on Boone Docks Drive and later developed his own line of paints, staying mindful of a growing trend in the industry of repurposing furniture. He operated both locations successfully and expanded twice, until the Boone warehouse facility was sold and Curiosity lost its lease.
“We panicked. Folks tried to help us find space everywhere in Boone, but nothing seemed to open up for us. While we still had the retail store in Blowing Rock, we had to start considering the idea of closing Curiosity Consignment Warehouse,” Gindlesperger wrote. “One morning, a couple dear customers (turned friends and business associates), my son, Brennon, and myself gathered to pray about what God wanted for us, what to do and where to go with Curiosity. Within one week, God opened up the opportunity for us to relocate to the Highway 105 location, creating a massive 10,000 square foot Curiosity Consignment Mega Warehouse that opened in phases.”
Since then, God has rewarded the Gindlesperger family’s faith, trust and charity with continued success in the business.
The Gindlesperger family business has worked hard to adapt to changing trends, and had the foresight to get it on the repurposing movement from the ground floor.
“In my personal opinion, what’s changing the whole design industry is Fixer Upper — Chip and Joanna Gaines,” said Gindlesperger. “We do shows in Atlanta three times a year, and when we’re out there that’s all anybody and everybody’s talking about — what they’re doing. I go to shows a lot to keep up with the trends and really try to keep reinventing and staying with what’s going on.
“The crash happened in 2007, 2008, and prior to that people accepted being gauged by the furniture industry and paying these huge prices for furniture that you buy in these places down in Hickory and High Point. I just think they’re smarter than that now and they’re trying to find ways to buy a high-end piece of furniture that once maybe was expensive for less money; and they can do that because the people that bought the furniture and paid $2,000 for a dresser are consigning it and they don’t have an emotional attachment to it anymore.”
Today, the warehouse continues to offer a vast selection of consignment furniture, as well as one-of-a-kind painted and repurposed pieces, each with its own story to tell. The shop is equipped with its famous coffee bar, great tunes, pleasant staff members and a comfortable shopping experience.
“We use a four-month contract and set a retail price for each piece, which goes down 10 percent every 30 days until it reaches the end of the four months. At the end of four months, the customer can come pick it up or we can donate it to charity, which we usually use the Salvation Army,” Gindlesperger explained. “The turnaround time is typically 45 days, and people usually wait until the first markdown. They say, should I buy it now or should I wait? Usually it reaches the first markdown and they bite.”
Curiosity’s solid and adapting business model continues to yield success, but it’s the faithful, passionate, hardworking team behind the business that really make it work.
General Manager Steven Zimmerman, who wears many hats around the shop, says he loves “everything” about his job.
“We do just about everything. Taking in consignments, tagging items, doing custom orders for people, selling, advertising — everything,” said Zimmerman. “With it being a family business, you’ve got to do anything; again, anything from selling to scrubbing toilets. That’s kind of where I fit into all of this.
“One thing about furniture that I love is the history behind it, then taking that history and bringing it back to life. Where we are in time, people like disposable goods as it pertains to furniture. We’re taking quality, American-made wood furniture and giving it new life, whether we’re painting it or adding barn wood inlay or doing upholstery with old pieces and bringing them up to date. I love working with people and I love designing furniture.”
When you shop at Curiosity, Zimmerman says, you’re getting something special.
“If we paint a piece or build a piece or upholster a piece, that’s going to be the only one. Nobody’s going to have that piece,” he said. “If you get an old piece of Broyhill that was made I the ’50s and they made a bunch of them, then yeah, somebody might have that style, but they’re not going to have the same paint job. The uniqueness and the character of each piece we put out is what’s great.”
Over the past several months, the Curiosity team has worked to add another aspect to the business in following another new trend — custom furniture created from reclaimed barn wood and other salvaged architectural features.
“When you take a piece of furniture and you paint it, that’s repurposing it,” Gindlesperger explained. “When you salvage items and you build something completely new from it, that’s salvaging and reclaiming.”
They’ve been taking custom orders for reclaimed pieces for the past six months, and this summer started renovations on the other half of their building, which was formerly occupied by Rexel and will soon be an open shop and show room for their salvage business.
“We started tearing barns down six months ago. We came back from Atlanta and there was a big trend where they would marry barn wood with modern iron pieces. It was sort of modern-rustic and it was really huge,” said Gindlesperger. “We just put an ad on Facebook and said we needed barns and that was all we needed to do. Every piece we built with iron and wood sells just like that.”
They’ve also added to the warehouse a 1948 pick-up truck that’s aptly been named “Red,” which will soon become a staple of the salvage business brand.
Shop Manager Justin Partridge, who joined the team seven months ago, said he enjoys the process of converting storied materials into new pieces and watching the transformation that happens along the way.
“I’ve been a carpenter my whole life, but I kind of surprised myself because I’ve never done anything like this before. I’ve done high-end trim carpentry and built houses, but I just started doing this and it’s awesome,” he said. “I love going out, seeing a barn, taking it down, bringing it back here, building with it and having a final product — watching all of the stages happen.”
The salvaged/reclaimed furniture aspect of Curiosity will open this Labor Day weekend, adding another 11,000 square feet of space to the warehouse and creating a working shop through which the customers can enjoy the process, too.
“A couple years ago, everybody wanted the high-end mass produced furniture that comes out of a factory somewhere. There was no story behind it, and your piece was just like the last thousand that came out. There was no one-of-a-kind,” Partridge said. “Now, people want the one-of-a-kind. They want a story behind it. They can come in and meet me and watch us build their piece.
“They can be a part of building it, and I think we’re the only ones really doing that. In other places you don’t see the shop, you just see the final product. I think what we’re doing is bringing it to a different level. They can walk through and watch us while we’re building.”
This weekend also marks the arrival Curiosity’s famed fall pumpkin selection.
With twice the space, an expanded venture and the air of excitement that comes from changing seasons, Gindlesperger and company look forward to continued growth as they bring local history back to life.
“We’re taking an old barn and tearing it down and people like the story. Where did it come from? They like seeing the wood in the back from teardown to finish,” Gindlesperger said. “It’s sort of a combination between trying to save a barn, being green, stay away from imported goods and making things in the USA. It’s not about being an artist and putting stuff in a gallery. It’s about being down to earth.”