Humble Abodes, offering "antiques, furniture, home décor and more" opened Black Friday at 39 W. Main Street.
The recent purchase of the 4,000-square-foot showroom by Humble Abodes owners Jim Aycock and fiancée Erin C. Dalton puts this address, previously owned by the Downtown Statesboro Development Authority, back on the tax rolls as private property. Meanwhile, through Aycock, the store carries forward a family tradition in furniture, and through Dalton, establishes ties with the local arts community.
"The first time I sanded a piece of furniture was probably 1987. ...," said Aycock, explaining how he is self-taught in refinishing and otherwise refurbishing older furniture.
"We used to make handcrafted furniture. So I started making furniture when I was 15," he said.
He got that start with Brooklet Handcrafted Furniture, which was owned by his father, J.M. Aycock, and furniture craftsman Carl Jones.
Then came the Plunderosa, the downtown Statesboro store that is the immediate inspiration and partial model for Humble Abodes. Jim Aycock's mother, Linda, and friend Martha Bacon were partners in the Plunderosa circa 1993-2012.
Jim worked there much of that time, 15 years or so, until the ladies retired and the place closed.
After trying other work, he wanted back in. He always enjoyed picking used furniture and refurbishing it, sometimes for new purposes.
"I like to say re-imagine. That's a good word," Aycock said. "I like to re-imagine, repurpose furniture. So we do stuff in the store, or if a customer has their own piece of furniture at home they would like me to work on, I'd be glad to do that as well."
Take, for example, that big 1960s-ish stereo console - with a reel-to-reel tape machine, as well as turntable and radio - that Aycock and a friend lugged in the first day the store was open. Aycock would gladly imagine it as a dry bar, but is keeping the electronics in it for now to let a potential buyer decide.
"Somebody might like it for what it is," he said.
Already somewhat re-imagined is a small chest of drawers, which he repainted and outfitted with natural stones as drawer pulls. He has a table and chair set to refinish on custom-order with an eye toward Christmas. But many items are available just as they were.
Aycock and Dalton buy furniture at estate sales and auctions. The Thursday night, live auctions at Liberty Auction in Pembroke are a favorite source.
Aycock will also look at items people bring by for possible purchase, but cautions not to expect him to pay retail prices.
"I can't offer you retail because, you know, I'm going to try to sell it for retail. ... I've got to make some money, too," he said.
Dalton is a certified public accountant with another business in town, Dalton Consulting & Financial Services. She is also a board member and treasurer of the Statesboro Arts Council, which operates the Averitt Center for the Arts.
With her ties to the arts community, Dalton is making a point of exhibiting and selling artworks at Humble Abodes.
"It's very important to me for our extremely talented local artists who do not have a gallery space to have a way to market and create their masterpieces," she said.
Humble Abodes opened with some works by local artist Scott Foxx on display.
Dalton wants to showcase pieces by many of the Statesboro Regional Art Association's artists in the near future. The arrangements have yet to be confirmed.
Additionally, she said, she will try to procure art that will satisfy serious art enthusiasts, even collectors. Currently, Humble Abodes' inventory includes a signed lithograph, "Sharing Diaries," by Paris fashion sketch pioneer Louis Icart (1880-1950) and a reproduction of Marcel Duchamp's "Chocolate Grinder" in artist-quality matting and frame.
Dalton and Aycock closed on the purchase with the Downtown Statesboro Development Authority Nov. 12.
The DSDA, which also sold a nearby storefront to the Averitt Center, had remodeled the building that is now Humble Abodes prior to sale. The authority made probably more than $70,000 worth of improvements to the building, said DSDA Executive Director Allen Muldrew.
This included removing a large metal awning that Muldrew said detracted from the building's beauty and historic significance as a part of a brick storefront block, which tax records suggest was built around 1900.
"We took a building, we remodeled it, we restored it to its historic significance, and we put it back on the tax rolls for what we consider an exciting new business," Muldrew said.
Painting and other interior work done under the DSDA's ownership were thorough enough that all the new owners had to do was move in merchandise, Aycock said.
"We walked in the first day and were kind of astonished by what we saw," he said. "We really were not expecting to see the inside look as nice as it did."
The new owners also took advantage of purchasing incentives through the DSDA and special financing for downtown revitalization available from Sea Island Bank, all part of Main Street Statesboro revitalization programs. This helped them decided that the timing and location were perfect, Dalton said.
"The financial incentives of this really proved to be a fantastic fit for our business model," she wrote in an email. "I would highly recommend to anyone who is looking to open a business in Statesboro ... to contact the DSDA and see what location they could seek out for them that qualified for these type of incentives."
Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9454.