By LISA WHALEY
When James Robertson was preparing to retire from Zak’s, a Johnson City furniture store he had served proudly for 18 years, he knew the time had come for he and his wife, Margaret, to plan a new chapter for their lives.
Their children were grown and neither was the type to sit quietly with little to occupy themselves.
“I wanted a furniture store, but I knew we didn’t have the money to open up something like Zak’s,” James recalled.
So the couple decided to merge their talents – James with his knowledge of furniture and household items and Margaret with her flare for beauty – and they would open their own unique spot.
It would be much smaller than the Zak’s store James would be leaving, and it would house a collection of treasures both old and new that both would be proud to share with the world.
“We knew we just didn’t want a smelly thrift store,” James said with a gentle smile. “We wanted some unique pieces. We had some antique pieces, new pieces, and gently used.”
Margaret added some quality clothing items. Pieces of colorful jewelry found its way into mix.
And Treasures Old & New opened in Gray at 5202 Bobby Hicks Highway in July 2016.
Now, after nine months of operation, they’ve learned more than they ever imagined about a store’s operation. It has already been quite journey, they said.
James recalls with a chuckle how the journey began more easily than expected thanks to the helping hand from some caring friends.
“We started kicking the idea around at work and of course the discussion led to where to find the inventory,” James said. “One friend says, ‘I’ve got a container in my yard.’ And another friend said, ‘I’ve got some stuff in storage building we can put in there.’ And another friend said, ‘Well, I’ve got some stuff.’ And the next thing we knew we were full.”
Soon they were selling that merchandise and then going out and adding more to their collection.
“We just look for things that are kind of odd and nice and they catch your eye,” Margaret explained. “Things that we like that we think other people would like.”
During those first few months, the Robertsons learned not only the value of good friends, but also to never underestimate the mesmerizing quality of piece of red leather furniture.
“One of our first sales was a red leather sofa set,” James said, shaking his head. “Everybody who saw it loved that.”
That living room set was soon followed by another – and along with it, another lesson. Sometimes, they discovered, the best deals can be found closest to home.
“Margaret wanted a new living room suite, so our old red one came down here,” James added grinning. “That sold in less than a month.”
“Red does really well in upholstery.”
Today, as that one-year mark approaches, lessons are still pouring in, as is the furniture. Thanks to their business parter, Terry Davidson, the shop also currently supplies custom window treatments services.
Currently on the shop floor, “Treasures” offers dressers, beds, chairs, light fixtures, artwork and more. And as the Robertsons treasures grow, so does their enthusiasm about the future.
“We want to give people quality,” Margaret said. “Things that are nice and things that look nice.
“I have a philosophy that I wouldn’t sell you something that I wouldn’t buy myself.”
Or, as James states simply, “We are dedicated for finding new homes for old and new treasures.”