SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY: 5 DECASO DEALERS REBUILD AFTER HURRICANES HARVEY & IRMA

November 23, 2017

At DECASO, Small Business Saturday gives us reason to celebrate the small businesses at the heart of what we do. Without the passion and dedication of these dealers, we wouldn’t be a destination filled with world class modernist and antique furniture, decor and decorative art objects. To commemorate, we recently spoke with a handful of Texas and Florida-based DECASO dealers, who, in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, are engaged not only in rebuilding their businesses, but their communities at large. Read on for their inspiring accounts, and explore their pieces to shop small on DECASO.

Photo courtesy of Antique Textiles Galleries

ANTIQUE TEXTILES GALLERIES
FT. LAUDERDALE, FL

Owners: Oskar Torres & Jimmy Lam
Dealer Specialty: Antique textiles, decorative pillows, vintage and antique furnishings

How did Hurricane Irma affect either you personally or your business?
This was our first hurricane ever and it was very scary to say the least. It took a lot of preparation to secure our irreplaceable inventory and to make sure our customers’ merchandise was secure in our warehouse facility. We also prepared by shipping all merchandise to customers before Fedex stopped providing service in the Ft. Lauderdale area. For our business reputation, these efforts really help us keep our customers happy!

“This was our first hurricane ever and it was very scary to say the least! It took a lot of preparation to secure our irreplaceable inventory.”

What are some of the greatest rewards of being a small business owner in your design community?
Having a niche in the decorative arts like we do makes it more special because we get to create amazing products for each one of our clients. We also travel the world to find one-of-a-kind accessories and textiles individually picked by us.

How can DECASO help?
We feel that what is valuable for us, small businesses, is the power of brands such as DECASO to magnify our artisanal products with marketing, blogs, Instagram postings as well as hashtags. Ultimately, DECASO is a bigger voice, a megaphone, for world consumers to find “us,” the small businesses who are making a difference in the U.S. economy.

VERMILLION INC.
NORTH MIAMI, FL

Owner: Susan Cutler
Dealer Specialty: 20th Century Furnishings, Decorative and Fine Arts

How did Hurricane Irma affect either you personally or your business?
The stress of preparing for the hurricane and the unknown was quite worrisome. We had to board up the windows of the gallery, as there were no shutters or hurricane windows. Unfortunately, there was little good wood to be found. At the eleventh hour; however, we obtained some moldy, smelly, wet wood to board up with. That was at midnight, before the winds were scheduled to pick up. Ultimately, the gallery had to remain closed for over 10 days. During the hurricane, I received a call from the alarm company that the windows had broken, but no one could go out to check it until after the hurricane passed, not even first responders. The entire episode was incredibly scary and felt extremely drawn-out. It has taken awhile to put the experience fully to rest.

“We had to board up the windows of the gallery, as there were no shutters. Unfortunately, there was little good wood to be found. At the eleventh hour, however, we obtained some smelly, wet wood to board up with.”

How can DECASO help?
By spreading the word that homes need be filled with special and beautiful things to create both peace, meaning, tranquility and love. It is always best to invest in the real thing as it has intrinsic investment value. Buy from antique dealers on DECASO who have a passion and a wealth of knowledge.

Photo by Tya Tiempetch

STRIPE VINTAGE MODERN
MIAMI, FL

Owner: Eric Cody
Dealer Specialty: American and European 20th Century Furniture and Accessories

In the wake of the Hurricane Irma, what has been the most helpful resource in getting businesses back on track?
Online selling and social media have been the key to bouncing back from what ended up amounting to over three weeks of down time.

To you, what’s the importance of Small Business Saturday?
Hopefully, Small Business Saturday brings a little sense of specialness and personalization back to holiday shopping, a trait which seems to have been lost to big box stores and giant websites, all run amuck in raw consumerism. It’s a gratifying exchange when you know the person you’re buying from, and you get a background story on a unique and specially-selected item.

What are some of the greatest rewards of being a small business owner in your design community?
The most rewarding part of being a small business owner within any design community is earning the trust of other design professionals who know that when they buy something from your store, they’re getting a thoughtfully chosen, beautifully crafted, professionally restored item. Our community in Miami is particularly international, so I’m always gratified when the Stripe aesthetic appeals to so many people from such far-flung places!

Photo by Dena Rafte

mrspk&oz
HOUSTON, TX

Owner: Patti Kagan
Dealer Specialty: 20th Century Vintage Modern Furniture & Decor

How did Hurricane Harvey affect either you personally or your business?
My husband and older son drove my off-the-ground SUV on the freeway to evacuate my sister, brother-in-law, our mom, and their dog, Zoe. They parked on the freeway and walked a half of a mile on the shoulder through dirty bayou water to get them, then carried my 86-year-old mother back to the truck, driving the wrong way on the freeway (the other side was flooded) to get back to our house.

I, fortunately, did not have any damage to my business or my home. My family did, however, spend the next week cleaning out homes in Meyerland, and gave an extra vehicle to one affected family to use until they could obtain another vehicle. My husband is a real estate developer and was able to expedite new sheetrock gratis for the same family. That is Houston! We are all about helping each other one family at a time.

I did find out later that the warehouse that my upholsterer and refinisher was located in suffered a flood. I had several bolts of velvet upholstery fabric stored there, as well as a very expensive Italian wardrobe that was being re-finished. 

When your own community is in the midst of a trauma like Hurricane Harvey, how important is the reach of technology in keeping your business active?
Technology has always been key to my business. I sell 90% of my items online and 10% locally. I have sent out a mailer to all my clients advertising a huge sale for this Saturday. Hopefully, that will generate some local business for me. Technology can help spread the word, but handling transactions in person is the most rewarding.

Photo courtesy of Carl Moore Antiques

CARL MOORE ANTIQUES, INC.
HOUSTON, TX

Owner Name: Geoffrey Westergaard
Dealer Specialty: European and Asian Antiques, Vintage and Modern

In the wake of the Hurricanes, what has been the most helpful resource in getting businesses back on track? Are you open for business?
We were very fortunate to not have been personally affected by the hurricane. We were up and running quickly, offering our knowledge and service to clients and friends as to what could be restored and what should  be replaced. As a service, we furnish all of our clients with professional photographs and descriptions of every item they purchase to help make claims with their insurance companies as easy as possible.

To you, what’s the importance of Small Business Saturday?
We like Small Business Saturday in that it helps remind people that it’s both fun and educational to get out and shop in person. Online is great, but you miss that personal interaction and additional information that comes from actually seeing and discussing an item in real time. Just the other day, I visited a client who bought a ceiling fan on Amazon and scheduled the electricians only to discover that the fan was the wrong voltage (220 versus 110). In her haste, to secure 2-day shipping, she did not notice that she ordered the 220 version. Needless to say she was aggravated at herself. I suggested we visit a local lighting shop down the street together, and we wrapped up the purchase in time to load it in the car and bring it home in time for the electricians to install. She was pleased and delighted to have a remedy close at hand. Yes, the fan was returned to Amazon!