We are grateful.
Despite what is prevailing currently in our country and around our world, we are doing our continued best to have gratitude for the silver linings since COVID-19 hit. Truthfully, without it, Breuners Furniture would not have experienced this rebirth.
It was March when schools closed. In a period of 24 hours, Heidi's business, SwapTs went dark, and Breuners Furniture took its place. Within 48 hours of posting our flagship Tahoe Coffee Table we had orders for more, and we haven't stopped. Pretty much every day of the week, the neighbors can hear the buzz of saws, sanders and routers.
The warm reception you have shown us has, and continues to, humble us. Your support and shared stories about your original Breuner store experiences feels like an infusion of love into our Tahoe tables and more.
As we complete our first quarter in this new business, we thank you for your stories, your wonderful product ideas, your kind comments, your purchases and for your faith in us. And while these are definitely some dark times, being in the workshop and creating products that people love, has helped bring lightness into our world.
Thank you all so much-- here are some pictures to help illustrate how we've grown in three months. We wish you continued health and safety. Enjoy!
This is Heidi writing today's post:
Breuners Furniture had a wood pick up in the Bay Area last week. On the way home, I stopped in Dixon to pick up a sandwich at Safeway. During checkout, the cashier, Sharon, looked at my Breuners Furniture t-shirt I was wearing and said, “Is that THE Breuners Furniture store on your shirt?” I beamed at the clerk and quickly explained the re-birth of Breuners Furniture. Sharon immediately started telling me stories of her parents shopping in one of the Sacramento stores years ago. “People only went to Breuner’s when you bought items for your home. They had everything you needed.” She continued to relay all the locations she could remember for the stores in Sacramento and the Bay Area. Sharon had a great memory! As we finished up our chat, she looked at my shirt and added, “I thought your t-shirt looked a little too new!” I thanked her for her memories and for helping me, she told me she was going to visit our website and would “keep in touch.”
Later that night, I opened up my email to see a message from Sharon. She sent me a little note, complimenting us on our website and the story that’s on the home page. She referenced herself as “Sharon, from the Dixon Safeway,” and said how glad she was to see the Breuner name again. I was incredibly touched. Sharon ended her kind email to me with, “What a great legacy!” I couldn’t agree more. I only hope we can match the memories.
One of the best things about being in the workshop is the trial-and-error of ideas for new products. Sometimes the ideas can be quite the distraction; other times we feel like we've really developed a great new item.
Our latest creations are a bench that can be personalized and our Tahoe end table. The bench is SO fun as it can have any message you want (within reason, due to size limitations), and we can incorporate a variety of colors. So we tested out some college logos, an anniversary message or a special birthday or other occasion, like graduation (Congrats Class of 2020!). We're also experimenting with different stain colors, so maybe getting a blue bench would be a possibility. The lettering is still not perfected, but once we get that down, the bench will be available on our website.
We've also been playing around with our Tahoe end table. Derek is really becoming quite the welder, designing a number of different legs for all our tables. This latest end table has three square-shaped, steel legs and a lower shelf for extra storage. It's still a work in progress, but Charlie has called dibs on putting this prototype in her room.
Stay tuned, we have two more ideas in the works...
As our country continues to stuggle through one of its darkest periods in our history, we had a ray of light visit us at the workshop today. Two-year-old Shay was out walking the neighborhood with her Mom and one-year-old sister, Alanna. As Shay shyly made her way out of the bottom of her stroller, we brought out the prototype of "Charlie's Stool."
"Shay, would you like to sit on our stool?" As we backed away a safe distance, she ambly sat down and smiled, her big, blue eyes bright with joy. While sitting on the stool, a moving truck drove by, which, to any two-year-old eye, looked like a UPS or FedEx truck. Shay smiled, pointed and said, "Look, package truck."
With her astute observation, Derek decided on the spot that Shay should "get a package." So we gave her the stool, all ready to color, paint, stain or just sit on, whatever she chooses.
Shay, Alanna and their Mom rolled up the sidewalk, the stool nestled safely in the bottom of the stroller. She turned and waived, "Bye-bye," and our hearts melted. It is the smile and wave of a toddler that can help alleviate some of this heaviness we are all feeling.
We went back into the workshop, carrying Shay's smile with us. Not only did we stain and use "Madame Glossy" on a Tahoe table, but we also finished the "T54" (our 54" Tahoe coffee table), cut out Montana (thank you Doug W!), finsihed up four more cutting boards (we have them back on the website, AND! we were able to make a special wedding cutting board gift, thanks to cousin Trina!), and we finshed up one set of Cornhole. Not a bad Friday. Hope you all stay safe and healthy.
Wow, what an amazing day! We had four table deliveries, starting with our Nevada Bistro table in South Reno. From there, we had a beautiful drive over Mt. Rose Highway to the north shore.
We delivered our first noir-stained (with an exterior finish) Tahoe coffee table to Sean in Incline. The table looked stunning in the backyard, surrounded by seating that had black cushions and gray accent patio colors. From Incline we drove around the lake to Rubicon Bay, and finally ended our delivery route seeing our childhood, "spin the bottle" friend, John, in Homewood.
With each now home, it felt like our tables were welcomed and invited in with such joy! What an amazing day, so grateful for Kim, Sean, Karla and John!
One of the fun things about our Shelter In Place orders, is seeing how many people are outside walking and biking the neighborhood. Since we are in the workshop (which has expanded to being out on Heidi and Derek's driveway under a pop-up) we get a good amount of interest from all the sanding, sawing, cutting and staining that we are doing.
"What are you guys making now?" asks the neighbor. Depending on what ideas have developed overnight, we'll stop our rotary sander, aka Mr. Spinny, and give an update. Sometimes the passerby-er will offer up suggestions, like, "How about making Cornhole?" And before you know it, Derek has drafted out a plan to make the next creation.
Today's project also included product testing for our bench that we want to customize for our customers. We played around with what makes my heart happy, Go Bears, and then had to go to the dark side with Stanford. One should note, Derek has a Master's degree from Stanford, and I went to Cal. The rivalry is fierce (not).
In addition to staining our Nevada bistro table, we stained two more Tahoe coffee tables, tested out bench ideas, and got Cornhole made to competition levels.
It's felt odd to start a business duirng this global pandemic, and to start one by accident feels even more strange. Our days are packed and busy, but it's not lost on us how many other people are really struggling. It's those real life struggles that help to center us in gratitude and giving back in the best way we can.
People all over the world are out of work. I read a great article about how we are all in the same storm but certainly not in the same boat. Our boat is afloat, and the mere fact we can hire our own teenagers, to help give them some structure and income, makes us feel a little better.
Our days spent in the workshop are creative and collaborative. Ideas to build something or improve something dominate our conversations. There are jokes that Heidi and Derek's pillow talk centers around routers and jigsaw blades.
Just last week, as we sanded and stained and cut wood, the conversation shifted to how these craftsman-earned skills are "old school," that so many of our homes and household goods began centuries ago in a workshop. That our grandfather used the tools we are using to build furniture back in the 1930s feels remarkable.
We are grateful to be in the workshop. We are grateful to be working. We are grateful for the reception of Breuners Furniture. We are grateful for you.
Charlie is Heidi and Derek's 14 year old daughter. She has been a huge asset to have in the workshop, sanding for hours while sitting on the ground.
I walked over one day to find Charlie sitting on this new workshop stool, happily sanding in the sun. I commented about the stool, "Wow! I love the new stool, where did you get that?" It was an easy guess that Derek made it, out of the coffee table scraps. I looked at him, "Please tell me we can make more of those, they are fantastic!" Derek laughed and informed me that the stool was litterally made from the leftover wood from one of the coffee tables. Still, I loved it.
Our Mom did a drive-by later that same afternoon. She too noticed Charlie perched in the sun, sanding on her workshop stool. Mom said, "That is so cute, I love it." Derek looked perplexed and thought, "Yeah, but that's just something I threw together..."
And then a neighbor was walking by with her three young boys, all riding bikes. "That's such a great stool!" By now Derek thought we were all in cahoots.
So that's our product development process. Make something out of need, with not a lot of planning, and then get feedback. Charlie's workshop stool is now one of our latest product offers. Check out the product page for more info.