Photo by Cathryn McCann
A year ago, Anne-Marie Eddy opened a small store off Beach Road that sells refurbished, reclaimed, and painted furniture, Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, and other unique items, in what she now calls “the Brooklyn of Martha’s Vineyard.”
So you recently opened up a new shop?
ReFabulous is the main shop, and it’s been open a year. We opened up the annex a few doors down, and we just call it ReFabulous Decor Two. What’s in there is more furniture, and it’s furniture that’s either painted or not painted. We are given a lot of furniture — people drop off furniture for us, or they’ll call us and have us come get furniture that’s inexpensive. The whole idea is to repurpose it and paint it and sell it affordably to people. It also satisfies people’s urges to be a little bit creative. They can paint the pieces themselves, either by coming to a workshop, or I explain it to them when they come in. Or people come in with a pillow that they want to match, they want the coffee table to match the pillow, so we’ll come up with a color and I’ll mix it for them and they can be on their way with instructions.
I’m always available. People call me all the time and say, “OK, I just did this, and it doesn’t look right, what do I do now?” That’s never a problem. If someone’s proud of what they did, they’re going to want to come back and buy more paint and paint everything in their house; it’s kind of addictive.
What’s your background?
My husband and I were living in Boston for a long time; my husband was an attorney and I was in corporate sales, and we decided to start a business on the Island after we got married here. We started Big Sky Tents, so we’ve had that for 17 years now. I helped him with the business for a number of years, and then I just started getting into more creative things. I started making jewelry about seven years ago, and I was selling some in the shops here. Then I discovered this Annie Sloan Chalk Paint about three years ago, and I just started painting everything in my house.
What’s special about the paint?
I think this paint really appeals to women; they can make it look really pretty without a lot of elbow grease and wasting time. Annie Sloan is out of Oxford, England, and she started the business about 30 years ago, and she has over 1,000 distributors and retailers now. We have to go to training for four days in North Carolina because she believes in growing the business organically — she doesn’t sell out of big-box stores. And the application process is pretty tricky and pretty involved; it was a 10-page application, and you had to already have your shop up and running. I honestly never really thought I’d be in the retail world, never really had any aspirations to do that, but when I found the paint, I really wanted to share it with people. I really like that it’s something that needs to be explained a little bit, but it’s not too confusing. It empowers people. They feel really great that they can do something artistic.
Note: Annie Sloan Chalk Paint is marketed on the website as a “versatile paint that would work beautifully on furniture without priming or sanding; that would be easy to use and quick to dry; and that could be used for a number of different paint techniques.”
What’s your first year in business been like?
It’s been good. We’ve been able to get different products in that appeal to everyone. We’re also doing the
Chilmark Flea Market on Saturdays and bringing a lot of items up there. I think that widens my scope with up-Island customers who wouldn’t necessarily come down here. So even though I’m not on Main Street and don’t have a huge visibility, people are finding me by word of mouth or from the flea market, because that’s their area.
So you don’t find that this location is prohibitive at all?
For me I think that I wouldn’t want to have a steady, steady stream of people in and out. As it is, we kind of do; sometimes I might have 100 people a day. But on Main Street, it’s nonstop. And when you have to explain the product to people, the sales process is a little bit longer. So I kind of like being small.
Can you explain the workshops that you hold?
The most popular workshop that I offer on an ongoing basis is the Chalk Paint 101, and that’s where I teach everyone the six different techniques and we work on pieces of wood. Everybody gets to experience the paint, use the wax, and distress things so that their comfort level is there when they go to paint their first piece. And then we work on something at the end, either a frame or a wooden buoy or a plaque, something that they can take home. I keep it affordable — it’s $60, and usually 2½ to 3 hours long. In the winter, we had a lot of workshops at night, so we’d have ladies’ night, with cocktails and appetizers. It was a fun activity during the dismal winter for a lot of people. Then I have Chalk Paint 102, which is the second level, and that’s a little bit more advanced. That works on gilding and stenciling and decoupage — all on furniture. And then I do private workshops for people too.
What are your hopes for the future of this place?
I would love people to know about this location down here — we’re calling it “the shops at Beach Street Extension.” And we’re calling ourselves “the Brooklyn of Martha’s Vineyard,” because a lot of the stores sell stuff that is all handmade. And this building, historically, has had a lot of workshop-type businesses. The owner — when I went to lease here — that’s what he said to me. He said, “You know I really like to support artists.” I wasn’t even going to open a place. I was like, “Are you kidding me? I can’t afford that.” Until I found this. I thought, “Well, it’s super small, but I’m excited. I can do it.” Upstairs, there are all these little offices where there are some artists — jewelry makers, painters, people who have little workshops.
I just thought it was such a cute, cool little community down here.
Anne-Marie Eddy, at ReFabulous, 13 Beach Road Extension, Vineyard Haven. (508) 560-0960, https://www.facebook.com/refabulousdecor.