I used to drool over the ads (and later the website) for REHAB Vintage (formerly known as Sonrisa Furniture). There are many stores like this now which specialize in vintage steel furniture and retro items. We’ve all spotted the vintage steel tanker desks or aluminum chairs in movies or showcase homes but I promised myself someday I would treat myself to a piece for furniture like that.
One day after complaining to a new neighbor (who later became a close friend) about how I couldn’t find any kitchen furniture I liked she told me about a place she frequented and said she saw some chairs there that looked like “your style”. She agreed to give me it’s location if I promised not to tell others!?! I was intrigued.
When I got there it was not what I expected; It was huge, not very well lit, dusty, unorganized and the most beautiful place I had ever seen!! ; Rows of GoodForm and Emeco aluminum chairs, steel tanker desks stacked one on top of the other, architect drafting tables, wood desk and steel tables, cool 70’s waiting room chairs, a 50’s pediatric examining table, vintage desk lamps and old phones thrown into oversize boxes …oh and some old computers, golf shoes, a new toilet and a couple of police vehicle lights to name some of the other bizarre (yet cool) items.
It gets better: all of it was priced ridiculously -I mean seriously, dirt cheap. It seemed like the employees (and customers) didn’t even realize the worth of what was surrounding them.
That day I walked out with as many Emeco chairs as would fit in my car and vowed to return later that afternoon for another trip. But once I realize these items were not exactly flying off out of there and that there seemed to be an endless supply (coming from where??) my panic calmed. I began to stop in regularly with my boys who were toddlers then (it was one of the only places they enjoyed shopping with me) and over the years I scored some sweet deals for myself and refurbished them. I also made a few bucks re-selling some on Ebay.
The 101: Explore the out-of-the-way-un-inviting junk shops, salvage yards, government surplus, garage sales or antique shops and don’t forget places like Salvation Army, NOVA and Craigslist. There are plenty more finds waiting to be hunted down.