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    Carver Junk Company — Dealer Spotlight

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    Feeling Nostalgic...

    As I was driving to work {"real" work} this morning, it hit me that Carver Junk Company is coming up on our 4-year anniversary of opening our doors. And of course, that gave me all the feels....and now I can't stop thinking about all the things that have happened in these last four years. The challenges, the excitement, and what's coming next. I feel like I tell our "story" every year. How this was a maybe-when-I-retire bucket list item, an impulse "purchase," and intended to be a one-weekend-a-month gig for fun.  A hobby....and then we accidentally grew a pretty cool business. My literal first thought this morning, after I realized how close we are to 4 years, was about our vendors. We started out all alone, and very quickly realized we couldn't do it all - we got too busy, too fast and were both still working full time. So we brought in really, really talented people to supplement the store with their furniture...and then with their handmade goods. We have over 40 vendors now. But the coolest part?  We started with 6 original vendors. Of those 6, three are still with us. Two others have started their own {successful} stores, and the last one took a break to buy & restore an old farmhouse. My second thought, after realizing all of that was....I have known these people, and worked with them on a daily basis, for nearly as long as Chad and I have known each other. We have built this business together, our little core team of 10-12 people, and we've had a lot of fun doing it. Like any team that works together so closely, we have our challenges and days we get annoyed with one another. But we keep each other energized, excited, and challenge ourselves as a group to be better every day. The very toughest thing about the last 4 years has come up in the last 18 months. As the concept of this business catches on {we aren't claiming the invention of a refinished/handmade goods store}, more and more stores are popping up. Pinterest means that most ideas for refinishing & repurposing aren't original. We use it for inspiration, ourselves! But with so much more competition close to home, we've literally had neighbors copy {word for word} workshop ideas and details from our website. We've had stores across the metro re-create and sell exact replicas of original sign designs by our vendors. The market is flooded with furniture and paint companies, and it's harder and harder to reach our customers directly. But this isn't a cry for pity - it's a testament to the people behind CJC.  In every instance where we've felt copied, defeated, and wondered if this business was worth continuing, this team has pulled together to come up with the next big idea. We've challenged ourselves to improve our quality, to continue being the best in the market. We've brainstormed & introduced "style guides" behind the scenes to ensure we're bringing in the newest, freshest designs. We know they'll only be fresh for a few weeks, but we're finding the excitement in discovering & creating those new styles - and we're accepting the challenge from the market to continue being the leaders. We've partnered with tons of local businesses to support each other, and to make our events bigger & better for our customers. And THAT all happens behind the scenes, with our incredible team of vendors. We have a super-secret {not anymore, because I'm telling you} group setup on Facebook, where we chat amongst ourselves, plan and share information. Last year, after an especially tough week, we posted and asked the group to brainstorm some ideas for a new event. We ended up with HUNDREDS of ideas, comments, and played off one another, continued to build ideas. One person suggested opening our workshop & storage and holding a super-secret sale there. Another asked if we'd seen the show "Million Dollar Listing" and suggested we hold a high-end party. And then....someone suggested we combine those ideas. Let's bring our store into a house, have a party, and sell all the stuff. Hello, cjc@home!  And a week later, Lennar agreed to loan us a home to stage, a date scheduled, and we made it happen. The same thing happened when we asked for ideas for Valentine's Day. We have a small store. We don't like to get stuck with all the pink stuff after the holiday, so we wanted a different way to celebrate. We joked about bringing in a kissing booth, and making the guys on the team "staff" it. And then someone said - why not bring in puppies? Ta Da! Brilliant! We get to partner with MN Pit Bull Rescue and Secondhand Hounds, donate ALL the proceeds plus some to them, and everyone gets to kiss sweet puppies. We've already seen both of these ideas utilized by other stores. And you know what? Fine with us - let's bring more attention to dogs needing homes! Let's all partner more locally, with other businesses in our communities. And while that's happening, our vendor team will step up to the challenge, and find the next big thing. Because they're the best. Our vendors have made this last 4 years the absolute success it's been, and we're so proud to have them on the CJC team. Every time I'm feeling sad {because, let's face it - it sucks to have your hard work re-created by a competitor} I am going to come back to this post to remind myself of all the things we've done and will keep doing. And I'll turn to our team & remind them, too. We're in this for the long haul, Minnesota! Thanks for supporting us, and our dozens of families, for four amazing years.  B   Just for fun, here are some of my favorite items we found & sold in our first year: 622597_140061209467519_759411104_o (1) 614909_139743859499254_1305443690_o 51895_152877288185911_312759857_o 334085_145216058952034_19531026_o 334948_140753352731638_1822950905_o 280073_146413642165609_1619196264_o 615723_153648734775433_1017114349_o 54786_172386412901665_311298113_o 257123_147088588764781_8022132_o 478031_178853875588252_300649310_o 622640_170167183123588_2113055987_o

    Featured Vendor: Cotton Seed Designs

    If you stopped out at the Carver store for our Occasional Weekend Event in June, you probably noticed the great vignette behind the checkout counter. It was created by Gabe from Cotton Seed Designs, to showcase a bit of her style! The {shoppable} display included chippy old windows, copper and brass accents, pineapples, wood and metal textures, and a green, white, and dusty pink color scheme. <3 We've told you a bit about Gabe before, in our previous Vendor Spotlight series, but wanted to share a few recent projects she's brought into the stores. Her items can be found at both CJC locations. Some of these are still available - call or message us on Facebook for details. Go ahead and Pin them, if you need some furniture inspiration! Mid Century Buffet with Chevron Wood Veneer and Painted with General Finishes Chalk Style Paint in Slate Gray | Cotton Seed Designs for Carver Junk Company | Painted Buffet | MidMod Mid Century Buffet with Chevron Wood Veneer and Painted with General Finishes Chalk Style Paint in Slate Gray | Interior Painted with General Finishes Antique White Milk Paint | Cotton Seed Designs for Carver Junk Company | Painted Buffet | MidMod Mid Century Buffet with Chevron Wood Veneer and Painted with General Finishes Chalk Style Paint in Slate Gray | Interior Painted with General Finishes Antique White Milk Paint | Cotton Seed Designs for Carver Junk Company | Painted Buffet | MidMod | Lined Drawers Custom Re-Upholstered Vintage Chair in Mustard Yellow with a graphic gray and white fabric on the outside | Cotton Seed Designs at Carver Junk Company Custom Re-Upholstered Vintage Chair in Mustard Yellow with a graphic gray and white fabric on the outside | Cotton Seed Designs at Carver Junk Company Antique Desk Painted with Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint in Boxwood by Cotton Seed Designs for Carver Junk Company | Carver, MN and Minneapolis, MN | Locally handpainted furniture Antique Desk Painted with Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint in Boxwood Green by Cotton Seed Designs for Carver Junk Company | Carver, MN and Minneapolis, MN | Locally handpainted furniture Antique Desk Painted green with Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint in Boxwood by Cotton Seed Designs for Carver Junk Company | Carver, MN and Minneapolis, MN | Locally handpainted furniture Mid Century Modern Vintage Dresser in Two-Tone with White frame and natural wood, refinished drawers. By Cotton Seed Design for Carver Junk Company | Minneapolis Furniture Refinishing Mid Century Modern Vintage Dresser in Two-Tone with White frame and natural wood, refinished drawers. By Cotton Seed Design for Carver Junk Company | Minneapolis Furniture Refinishing Mid Century Modern Vintage Dresser in Two-Tone with White frame and natural wood, refinished drawers. By Cotton Seed Design for Carver Junk Company | Minneapolis Furniture Refinishing Custom Re-Upholstered Vintage Sofa in a Dark Gray Tweed Style Fabric with Button Tufting | Cotton Seed Design for Carver Junk Company | Minneapolis Upholstered Furniture & Home Decor Custom Re-Upholstered Vintage Sofa in a Dark Gray Tweed Style Fabric with Button Tufting | Cotton Seed Design for Carver Junk Company | Minneapolis Upholstered Furniture & Home Decor Antique, Primitive Dresser Painted in Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint Mustard Seed Yellow by Cotton Seed Designs for Carver Junk Company | Minnesota Refinished Furniture and Handmade Home Decor Repurposed Radio Cabinet Painted in Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint Eulalie's Sky, with refinished doors and new hardware | Antique Bar | Storage Cabinet | Cotton Seed Designs for Carver Junk Company Custom Mixed Milk Paint Color on an Antique Dresser with Glove or Jewelry Boxes, finished with Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint Antiquing Wax | Cotton Seed Designs for Carver Junk Company Custom Mixed Milk Paint Color on an Antique Hutch, finished with Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint Antiquing Wax | Cotton Seed Designs for Carver Junk Company Custom Re-Upholstered Vintage Sofa in a sweet light blue Fabric with Button Tufting | Cotton Seed Design for Carver Junk Company | Minneapolis Upholstered Furniture & Home Decor Custom-Built, Handcrafted Steel Frame Ottoman Coffee Table, upholstered in an antique, WWII Australian Army Blanket | Cotton Seed Designs for Carver Junk Company Custom-Built, Handcrafted Steel Frame Ottoman Coffee Table, upholstered in an antique, WWII Australian Army Blanket | Cotton Seed Designs for Carver Junk Company Mid Century Modern Vintage Dresser in Two-Tone with White frame and natural wood, refinished drawers. By Cotton Seed Design for Carver Junk Company | Minneapolis Furniture Refinishing 12402082_804285113050322_3355122790356628615_o Antique Dresser and Mirror painted in Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint Apron Strings (discontinued) Coral color by Cotton Seed Designs for Carver Junk Company Antique Buffet with updated bone knob hardware, by Cotton Seed Designs for Carver Junk Company Antique Reupholstered Chair in linen and a vintage wool blanket in varied stripes | Cotton Seed Designs for Carver Junk Company Antique Reupholstered Chair in linen and a vintage wool blanket in varied stripes | Cotton Seed Designs for Carver Junk Company Antique Cabinet with Modern hair pin legs and side table, Painted in Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint color Mustard Seed Yellow | Carver Junk Company | Cotton Seed Designs Antique Kidney-Shaped Desk, painted with natural wood top, and beautiful staging! Cotton Seed Designs for Carver Junk Company Antique Buffet with updated bone knob hardware, by Cotton Seed Designs for Carver Junk Company Antique Buffet with updated bone knob hardware, by Cotton Seed Designs for Carver Junk Company Antique Buffet with updated bone knob hardware, by Cotton Seed Designs for Carver Junk Company Antique Buffet with updated bone knob hardware, by Cotton Seed Designs for Carver Junk Company Antique Buffet with updated bone knob hardware, by Cotton Seed Designs for Carver Junk Company

    Shop Small: Who do you support, when you shop small?

    Shopping Small. It's a movement these days. Back to our roots, supporting our neighbors, and buying locally-handmade items. It's heartwarming, feel-good, and economical. But who exactly are you supporting, when you shop small? When you shop small with Carver Junk Company, you're supporting Chad & Brandy, Allison, Aimee, Caitlin, Carol, Brian, Colette, Lee, Gabe, Erica, Jennifer, Lauryn, Aaric, Cheryl, Rob, Kirsten, Kristin, Naomi, Heidi, Katie, Stacy, Darcy, Dave, and dozens of other local makers. When you shop small with Carver Junk Company, you're supporting our dreams and goals. You're supporting our story.

    The CJC Story

    We often tell people we started this business on a whim. Which is sort of true, but not entirely. Here's how it happened:

    I {Brandy} have always been a DIY-er, in the sense that I like to try new things. I rarely get very deep into a craft or hobby - instead my hobby is really learning a little about a lot of different things. In my mind, that always lent itself to a future business selling locally handmade arts & crafts. I could create new things seasonally, and I could support others that did the same, by selling their items. It got added to the bucket list {a real-life, actual list, from which I check things off} for retirement.

    When Chad & I met, he worked in sewer & water construction, which meant long days, and sometimes weeks on the road. I worked {and still do} in a corporate setting. In 2012, we were buying our first home together, and he somehow convinced me to move to Carver, where he grew up. I wanted to live in a neighborhood, where we could walk to shops & restaurants. We looked at 50 houses in South Minneapolis, and 1 house in Carver.

    We put in the offer on our new house; a 1,000 sq ft home with a huge yard. A house within walking distance of restaurants {ok...bars} and all these great little "occasional" stores in downtown Carver. As we walked through the stores, a month before we were set to close on our house, I kept thinking to myself "this is exactly what I want to do someday."  We bought an antique warehouse cart, refinished it in the driveway of our old townhouse, for the living room at our new house. All the while, thinking to myself "We could do this." Never saying it out loud.

    [caption id="attachment_2376" align="aligncenter" width="720"]391494_10151025909247029_1212824734_n The coffee table that started it all.[/caption] The night before we closed on our house, we did our final inspection, and headed into downtown Carver to celebrate with a drink. We passed by one of those little stores, and noticed it was vacant, with a For Lease sign in the window. Without saying a word, I dialed the number. Chad turned to me at the same time, and said "call them." Without ever having talked about opening a business together, this felt like a sign. The next day, we closed on our house at Noon, and signed the lease to our new store at 1:00. [caption id="attachment_2375" align="aligncenter" width="343"]531201_10150991763152029_1451028056_n Our new house and our new store. All within one hour.[/caption] We jumped right in. It was 300 sq-ft, and open one weekend a month. Maybe it would be enough extra money for Chad to quit his 60-80 hr/week job that took him away from home so often. Maybe the extra few hundred dollars a month would be enough for him to stay home with future babies {because we weren't having kids with him gone that often}. Now that we lived in Carver, my salary went a bit further, and this seemed like it might be just enough to let us start planning our family. [caption id="attachment_2374" align="aligncenter" width="720"]417478_10150993056516822_1011948035_n Our new landlord took our photo after signing the lease![/caption] We worked a lot of hours that first year. We moved from our 300 sq-ft space to an 800 sq-ft space in a basement down the street. We brought in vendors to help us fill space, and we grew our Facebook following to over 10,000. We moved again the following year, to a 900 sq-ft space with no stairs. We had a baby. We opened a second store last year, and have nearly 40,000 fans on social media. We launched a website, brought in many more local vendors, and Chad runs this business full-time. We've been able to hire another full-time employee, and some part-time folks. [caption id="attachment_2377" align="aligncenter" width="720"]The first Carver Junk Company location, the night before Grand Opening. The first Carver Junk Company location, the night before Grand Opening.[/caption] We could only have imagined what Carver Junk Company would become when we signed that lease, on a whim. And it's become what it is today because of a lot of hard work, and a community that supports shopping small.

    When you shop small, you help us take our daughter to the community center for swimming lessons. You allow us to spend our money at other local businesses - like the restaurant down the street. You enable us to give back, to support local charities and civic groups. You allow us to give the girl scout from Chaska another place to sell her cookies. You allow us to give the dog rescue from Hopkins a place to hold fundraisers. You enable us to bring in more and more makers from our local community, so they too can realize their dreams.

    We hope to share more stories from our makers, from now until Nov 28th. Small Business Saturday is the biggest day of the year for small business. Carver Junk Company will be stocked full, at both stores, with handmade & vintage gifts, decor, and furniture. RSVP to our Small Business Saturday event here. 

    And, from the bottoms of our hearts - THANK YOU. Thank you for enabling our dreams, and supporting our families.

    Dealer Spotlight: Cotton Seed Designs

    So you’re wondering how the heck we pull off finding & refinishing & making all those handmade items each month? We don’t do it alone, that’s for sure. We are so proud to have an amazing, incredible, talented team of people behind the Carver Junk Company brand. They each have a different style, personality, and strength that they bring to the team, and we want to let you get to know them all a little better! We’re writing up a series of Dealer Spotlights. So far we have focused on our “dealers”  -the folks that regularly and religiously fill space in our stores, re-stock new pieces as things sell, support our crazy ideas, expansions, and who have become our friends through the journey that has been CJC. We’ll also feature the artisans that bring in a few perfect pieces here and there, and that make all of those one-of-a-kind handmade-in-MN items for which we’ve become known. There are over 40 different individuals and businesses that come together behind the scenes to create Carver Junk Company.

    Gabe was one of our very first customers. She bought an old window we got from our "barn guy" and used it when building her chicken coop. And believe us when we say, it's not your average chicken coop. Gabe is a designer, but she's also our resident builder. She is the dealer that rebuilds drawers, builds pergolas (from scratch. by herself.) and owns (and knows how to use) all the power tools. She was recently challenged by the other dealers at the store to tackle a completely broken, seemingly un-salvageable piece of furniture. This is the end result:
     Salvaged Commode Washstand by Cotton Seed Designs | Carver Junk Company
    We found Gabe earlier this year {we didn't even know we already knew her as a customer} and asked her to join us. She politely declined. So we asked her again, and she agreed to meet for coffee while we talked consignment terms - maybe she'd just bring in a piece or two here or there. Yeah, right! She's now a dealer with us full-time, and we're lucky to have her! Every piece is finished to perfection, and her furniture also makes for amazing examples of how to use our Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint line. Her finishes are buttery-smooth, and her custom color mixes are always beautiful!
     Gabe & Mark
    Tell us about yourself: My husband and I live in a small little house on the west side of Lake Minnetonka.  We have two great dogs Summer and Rudy that help keep us entertained.  Both of us love the outdoors and tackling our long list of house projects which I swear only gets longer.  I love the creative/design process and have a big appreciation for old furniture and the artisan who originally created it. How did Cotton Seed start: Being an interior designer is something I have wanted to do since I was very young.  I’ve been making and re-purposing things as far back as I can remember.  When I graduated college with my degree in interior design the economy was declining and most architecture firms were actually laying off interior designers as the construction industry was coming to a halt.  I ended up working for a couple different companies for several years while doing independent residential interior design work on the side.  Last fall, when we were moving farther out of the metro and I did not want to commute an hour to work every day, my husband and I decided now was the time for me to finally start up my own interior design business.  I feel so blessed to have such a supportive husband, family, and friends.  It’s been a little over a year and things are going great.  I’m excited to see what happens next! Where do you find your inspiration: Everywhere!  Hahaha, I subscribe to way too many design magazines, peruse Pinterest and Houzz almost daily, and gather ideas while out and about.  I also have a very talented younger sister who’s also an interior designer and we like to bounce ideas off of each other.  She’s a great resource considering I don’t really have co-workers. Some of Gabe's favorite Cotton Seed Designs creations: [caption id="attachment_870" align="aligncenter" width="665"]Apron Strings Dresser | Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint |  Cotton Seed Designs at Carver Junk Company The first piece Gabe at Cotton Seed ever brought in to CJC, and we were completely in love with it! {it helped that Brandy was pregnant, and in love with all things coral....} The drawers were lined with fun fabric, and every detail was perfect![/caption] [caption id="attachment_871" align="aligncenter" width="665"]Custom Color Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint Buffet | Cotton Seed Designs at Carver Junk Company A more recent piece, this sold in the first day it was in the store. It's easy to see why! A gorgeous custom mix of Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_873" align="aligncenter" width="665"]Rebuilt Barrister Cotton Seed Designs at Carver Junk Company One of our personal favorite CS pieces - this antique barrister {lawyer's} bookcase was completely taken apart by Gabe, rebuilt and hinges & sliders all greased up and the whole thing refinished. 'Cause that's what she does! Again, painted in Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint![/caption]       Dining Table I Cotton Seed Designs at Carver Junk Company  Cotton Seed Designs at Carver Junk Company  Cotton Seed Designs at Carver Junk Company And seriously - her staging. I mean, you wouldn't expect any less from an interior designer, right? But this blog post could have been no text, and all photos, and we're sure you would all have loved her just the same! Go ahead and pin these photos - you know you want to - and then follow Gabe on Pinterest, too! {link below} You can find Gabe {and Cotton Seed} on the Internets, here: http://www.cottonseeddesigns.com/ https://www.facebook.com/pages/CottonSeedDesigns http://www.pinterest.com/CottonSeedLLC/   P.S. If you aren't already following along with the blog, or subscribed to our email updates, you can sign up on the right side of this page. No spam, we pinky swear!

    Martha Stewart | American Made Awards Nominee

    Carver Junk Company is a nominee for the 2014 Martha Stewart American Made Awards! 

    About the awards: "American Made spotlights the maker, supports the local, and celebrates the handmade. The program is made up of people and communities that have turned their passion for quality craftsmanship and well-designed goods into a way of life. For more than 20 years, Martha Stewart has celebrated this spirit of innovation in the pages of her magazines and on her television shows. Now, through American Made, Martha Stewart and the editors of Martha Stewart Living are spotlighting the next generation of great American makers: entrepreneurs, artisans, and small-business owners who are creating beautiful, inspiring, useful products; pioneering new industries; improving local communities; and changing the way we eat, shop, work, and live. We believe we are in the midst of a shift in our culture where creative entrepreneurs are defining a new American economy. From Detroit to Des Moines, Spokane to St. Louis, people are choosing Main Street over mini-malls—supporting the local and the handmade. Our country’s makers are sparking this change by taking a leap, banking on their creativity and craftsmanship, and living their version of the American dream." Martha Stewart - American Made 2014 - Nominee Badge Pop on over to our story, and share via FB or Twitter to help us make it to the next round!