Why we started a vintage furniture store

by Keith Lobo

Her Side:

Working with your spouse can be a challenging and very rewarding experience all at the same time. But with the ever-growing dis-interest in the corporate world and realizing how far I’d come from that small rural farming community that I loved, and how my creative side had become completely stifled, it became blatantly evident, that my career had to change and it was worth the risks that might come my way. And what better way to embark on a new adventure, than to pair my skills with that of my husband. Despite the risks of opening your own vintage furniture store and all of the what-if’s, despite the fact that we’re both still juggling a full-time career while trying to get our business off the ground, despite being parents of an energetic 4 year old and being pregnant with our second child, it has been an exciting and energizing time to say the least. When trying to figure out how we’d be unique from all of the vintage furniture stores that dominate Queen Street, we started with what we were passionate about: Quality, Eco friendly Refinishing and Locally Sourced Products.

Local Sourcing: We love how our neighbourhood has grown. We love our friendly community. We knew that supporting our local economy and our local artists would be key to keeping the passion for our business alive. So, we decided that St. Clair West is the place for our business. And we fit a niche that is not currently available in our area. We hope our business continues to revitalize our community.

Eco Friendly Refinishing: Growing up on a farm, environmental sustainability is never far from my mind and an essential part of who I am. By finding pieces that may very well end up in landfills, repurposing and finding a new home for unique furniture that just doesn’t exist anymore is one way that I feel I can contribute in a positive way in a world where waste is unfortunately only growing. Being pregnant and wanting desperately to start refinishing furniture again, spawned Keith’s search for eco-friendly, low VOC refinishing and painting products. Mission accomplished.

Quality: Both in the products and services we want to offer. The current vintage stores that currently exist all have their benefits. We want to bring it all together and offer a wider variety of products and services to meet every client’s unique needs. We hope very much to be able to meet and exceed your expectations.

His Side:

I’ve always had this not so secret desire to own my own vintage furniture store. Maybe I’m crazy, maybe it’s genetic. My grandparents owned several businesses simultaneously before immigrating to Canada: bakeries, general stores, mines. Even when I graduated from university and started working as a Product Manager at Club Monaco, I loved the store. Helping people (customers) solve problems was something I loved to do. I would re-merchandise the store on breaks or come in early for a shift so I could walk the building, take notes and make things better for our customers. I loved showing people different looks and helping them find the perfect item. Quickly my career took off: Guess, Hbc & Lowe’s. All incredible companies where I learned a lot. But there was just something missing. As my career saw incredible success and progressed, I became aware that I was missing the energy, the passion and excitement of the store. I ran Stores & Districts; bought products; did visual nationwide; even human resources. But in these big companies it was all done separately. It was all about staying in your own “box” and not stepping on someone else’s toes. Working in a big company had me so focused on specific “accountability” that I stopped doing what I loved: Doing many different things to help customers solve problems. We are probably crazy embarking on this journey right now, when we both have great stable jobs, a “high energy” 4 year old and a new baby due in January. But we see a big gap in the market. Why should people in mid town Toronto have to go to the burbs or downtown to get quality furniture and accessories for their homes? Why can’t they go some place local, where they can find quality items at good prices? A place that also does refinishing in a eco-friendly way for their beloved treasures. A place that is warm and friendly; that you can bring your kids in and let them run around. A place that tries to get to know you and will stay in touch. A place that values the local community by showcasing Toronto based artists and manufacturers. We also feel strongly that furniture should last and not cost a fortune. So why?

Reason #1: My amazing wife. She is a passionate decorator who has an incredible eye for design. She can see beyond what something is into what something can truly be. She has a artistic talent with refinishing wood that is beyond description. She is creative, yet detailed and a perfectionist. She is a realist. She is methodical. She is the perfect balance for me.

Reason #2: I’m a bit of a dreamer who loves ideas and decor. I’m creative but definitely not detailed. I love to talk with customers and learn about them. I enjoy selling, as I see it as trying to help a customer find something they will love forever. I love marketing and design.

Reason #3: "disposable" furniture contributes a staggering amount of the total volume going into landfills every year. There is a place for this stuff. We even have some in our home. But imagine if you could get a quality, stylish product for a fraction of the price! I'll admit our stuff is not "cheap". But for the quality, it's incredible value! Long term disposable furniture is costing you about the same. The best part of vintage furniture, is it's generally the same price as a new "disposable" item and you will have it for a lifetime.

Reason #4: We see a gap in the market. You either have really great quality items, that you can’t let your kids and pets near - we aren’t big fans of the plastic covered living room. Or you have lower end items that you begrudgingly buy knowing that within a couple of  years you will be throwing it out. The environmental impacts of everyone doing this is staggering. So we thought what if: Furniture was able to last: update it with paint or upholstery over time. But it lasts. The style should be timeless. It should be such good quality that you can let your kids and pets on it. It shouldn’t cost a fortune. From these reasons, Vintage Home Boutique was born.

Our focus is Quality Furniture and Accessories, Eco –Friendly Refinishing Services, Local Sourcing.

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