Timing is really everything.
I opened the doors at Union Camp Collective on February 14th, 2016. Though, at that time, I had already been "in the business" for a number of years, I really had no idea what I was in for.
The plan was to have a furniture shop that housed inventory from every era, at every price range with multiple styles. Furniture that can be customized—reupholstered, refinished or repainted. Furniture for every person and place.
In 2015, a location was found. The spot was a 12,000 square foot auto garage, built in the 60's. The porn and car part poster covered walls did a poor job of masking the years of smoking that happened inside - an odor that's a real sales killer for home goods! So yes, it was smelly, dark and dated but I'm into the possibility of things and this had major potential. And despite the real lack of foot traffic and being off the beaten path, the neighborhood (and the city) promised progression and growth for this part of Raleigh.
I took the gamble. I power washed the hell out of the building, painted the grease covered walls and planted flowers. I nested. In a big way!
Today, Union Camp is more than just the furniture shop I planned for. Not your average retail experience - there's an additional purpose for this space that I never imagined. It's frequently rented out for engagement parties, farm to table dinners, fundraisers, anniversaries, birthdays, weddings...you name it! Sharing the space is right and good and undeniably, the vibe is unlike any other. I even have an extra space for leasing out to fellow entrepreneurs and creatives in town.
As the business grows, so do I, one step at a time. Each day continues to be a lesson in good (and sometimes bad) business and in people. Inventory is constantly getting more and more robust. The aesthetic tends to be a marriage of all that I love. Never snooty or stuffy. Not too precious or too sweet. Nothing is too cold. Nothing screams just HIS or HERS—nothing purely masculine or feminine. In sum, if my soul had a gift shop—it would look like Union Camp. :)
So please come in! Come to the side of West street that you've never been to before. I really do think that you will enjoy meeting the wild child little sister shop to Studio 123. While we may not be twins, we share the same roots and the same joie de vive. And when it comes to inventory: I'm still getting it daily, I'm still haggle friendly, still hand-painted, still handpicked.