Thursday, March 6, 2014

We've Moved. Online.

Hello! We've moved our website {and upgraded it} to

Feel free to browse some of our old posts on this blog, or head on over to the new site by clicking here.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Dealer Spotlight: White Butterfly Furniture, and Owner Kirsten

So you're wondering how the heck we pull off finding & refinishing & making all those handmade items each month? We don't do it alone, that's for sure. We are so proud to have an amazing, incredible, talented team of people behind the Carver Junk Company brand. They each have a different style, personality, and strength that they bring to the team, and we want to let you get to know them all a little better!

We're writing up a series of Dealer Spotlights. The first few that we share will be focused on our "dealers"  -the folks that regularly and religiously fill space in our stores, re-stock new pieces as things sell, support our crazy ideas, expansions, and who have become our friends through the journey that has been CJC. We'll also feature the artisans that bring in a few perfect pieces here and there, and that make all of those one-of-a-kind handmade-in-MN items for which we've become known. There are over 40 different individuals and businesses that come together behind the scenes to create Carver Junk Company.

So let's meet Kirsten {kIRsten, not Kristen. We called her the wrong name the first time we met her, so we're saving you from the same mistake}. We asked her a few questions about herself, but what you really need to know is that she's a blogger extraordinaire, a mom of FOUR BOYS, strong for her size, and our dealer who is least afraid to use color on her pieces. Those teal nightstands you all drooled over recently, that sold within 10 minutes of posting on Facebook? Kirsten. The red ones we posted 10 minutes later and sold that night? Kirsten. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

If only it were as easy as Flea Market Flip. A re-finishing rant.

A friend, and one of our dealers at Carver Junk, sent me this blog post a few weeks ago. It hit home, and I've been trying to think of a way to post it for our fans/followers/customers to see, without making it seem cranky. While noodling on how to do that, I've also been (completely unrelated) DVR'ing episodes of Flea Market Flip, and catching up on them on Sunday nights. We've had a ton of people ask us if we've ever seen the show, because they "LOVE IT!"

Well, here's the scoop on Flea Market Flip. It's completely unrealistic, and gives viewers the impression that big repurposing projects can be completed with quality in less than 24 hours with no additional cost beyond the original purchase price {seriously, who is paying for all that paint, and all the people helping the flippers do the work?!}. And unfortunately, it leads some {not all} of those viewers to expect much lower prices than are feasible at stores like Carver Junk Company.

To illustrate, let's talk about a piece we bought recently, and repainted:

A round pedestal table - priced at $40. The price was fair, so we didn't low-ball or negotiate. We drove 20 miles to pick it up. Because the woman selling it wasn't able to help Chad move it, both he and I had to go, costing us both time - it took about an hour there and back.

I forgot to take a Before photo, so I borrowed this from an online post.
It is pretty darn close to the table we bought.
although the veneer on this one is in better shape; price is also higher}.
Purchase price:  $40
Gas: $7  {yes, our Jeep stinks for gas mileage, but it's great for hauling our trailer}
Time: $40 {we value our time at $20 per hour}

Then, when we got there, we found the reason the table was only $40 {which, of course hadn't been shared when we asked the condition} - the veneer was bubbling on both the top and the leaf for the table. Add an extra 30 minutes of veneer-fixing time.

Fixing: $10

Once it was prepped {fixing the veneer}, we were ready to paint. We use Milk Paint or homemade chalk paint, both of which require no sanding prior. Woohoo! Time savers! But, what we make up for in time, we lose in cost of paint. It's worth it, trust us.

Milk Paint: $18
Wax: $3  {a small portion of a large container used}
Sandpaper, brushes, etc:  $3  {brushes are reused, sandpaper is cheap, but let's add something for supplies}
Bonding agent: $7  {ensures the paint sticks and doesn't require the sanding prep work}

Painting with Milk Paint is actually a time SAVER, because it dries so quickly. We chose a light color, so that meant it required a couple of coats. We'll call it three. Each coat takes about 20 minutes, so we're looking at an hour.

Painting Time:  $20
Distressing/Waxing Time: $3  {about 10 minutes}

It's done! That's it, right? Well, there is also the rent {and utilities} that we have to pay in order to have a place to showcase the table.

Sq Ft Rent for Table:  $25 per month, but we'll assume it sells in one month. It's also possible that it sells in the first day of the sale, and we replace it with something else that sells - this is ideal :)

And there are the folks we have to pay to work at the store while we're open. That only adds a small cost to each item, so we won't even add it here - but it's important to note the number of things that go into "selling" furniture!

So, what does that total look like?
Purchase price:  $40
Gas: $7
Time: $40
Fixing: $10
Milk Paint: $18
Wax: $3
Sandpaper, brushes, etc:  $3
Bonding agent: $7
Painting Time:  $20
Distressing/Waxing Time: $3
Sq Ft Rent for Table:  $25

This table COST us $176 to buy, paint, and put in the store. We'd likely price this table at $249 {which is determined by a lot of factors like our market, the piece itself, current demand for this type of item, etc.}

Can you see all the distressed and chippy goodness in this photo? And the finish feels like butter.

Well, it's apparent that we aren't professional photographers, but here is the finished table, with leaf.
It's she a beauty??

So once we've paid ourselves, the bills, and sold the table, we will have $73 left over to go buy another piece of furniture and start the process all over again.

And just for kicks, let's compare our table {$249} to a couple of major retail store tables & prices:

Crate & Barrel,  $499
Pottery Barn, $799

Now, let's be clear. I am not complaining. We LOVE what we do, we LOVE our customers, and we RARELY encounter a situation where someone is disrespectful about pricing. I didn't blog about this in an effort to change anything that happens in our store, nor to make you feel sorry for us - it truly is more about education. In fact, we even offer painting workshops through Carver Junk, so YOU can do these projects yourself if you like! And now, you'll have an idea of what it will cost you in time and real dollars.

{and, you won't be fooled by shows like Flea Market Flip! watch, enjoy, and take it as a great entertainment show :)  }

Friday, February 21, 2014

Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint. About it. About us. About our workshops.

We were ecstatic about being selected as a Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint Retailer last year, and now we're even more excited to be able to offer Milk Paint Workshops to our customers. We've only been selling the product for two months, so we know a lot of you might not yet be familiar with it.

We'll let you in on the big secret, and your home painting projects may never be the same again! {you're welcome.}  


"Milk Paint is an ancient all-natural paint containing basic ingredients including milk protein (casein), limestone, clay and natural pigments. When absorbed into the surface, Milk Paint will never chip or peel when applied to a raw wood surface. It is suitable for both interior and exterior applications and is naturally mold resistant. Milk paint provides a completely breathable coating and is ideal for painting wood, plaster, drywall and a variety of other surfaces.  It is environmentally friendly, non-toxic and contains no VOCs.
With the Milk Paint Bonding Agent you can use Milk Paint on even more surfaces such as previously painted walls, varnished surfaces, ceramic tiles, metal, glass etc.  Without the bonding agent, Milk Paint will resist some prefinished or prepainted surfaces to achieve an authentic “chippy” look."  {thanks for the perfect description, Miss Mustard Seed}



1.  SAFETY:  The biggest reason we chose to start using and selling Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint is because it's completely natural and contains zero VOCs. While we have a workshop with great ventilation, we sometimes like to bring furniture right into our living room, and paint while we watch TV. We'd been mixing our own chalk paint previously, which admittedly worked great, and was quite inexpensive. But even when we used low-VOC latex paint as the base, it didn't feel good to be painting with it inside. Then, when we found out we had a baby on the way, we made an immediate lockdown on all the chemical products we use in our house {yes, we now realize we should be just as concerned about our own health, but it was a good instigator...}

2.   VERSATILITY:   There are dozens of potential ways to use milk paint, but the primary five are to use it as a stain on raw wood, as a "wash" over wood or another paint color, as an all-over solid color, with a chippy finish, or for a crackle finish. These techniques, combined with the variety of finishing products, make this one of the most versatile paints we have ever seen! 

3.   COLOR CHOICES:   With 18 different colors available in Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint, there is sure to be a paint for everyone's style. The colors are all natural, and reminiscent of primitive, farmhouse-style pieces. However, using the techniques listed above, they can also be very modern. {Have you checked out Target, West Elm or Pottery Barn lately? They are full of colors that look like Mustard Seed Yellow, Kitchen Scale, and Apron Strings}.  And what's even better? The paints can be easily mixed to create your own custom color. Many retailers even have "signature" colors that they have discovered along the on the lookout for a Carver Junk Company "signature color" contest early this year!

4.   THE FEEL:   This might sound ridiculous, but stop in the store sometime, and just touch one of our milk painted pieces. They're butter. I seriously can't stop touching them...every time I walk by - don't worry, I wash my hands often. There is not another finish like this available with any other products. 

5.   THE SMELL:   Take a workshop with us.  In our small, enclosed, unventilated workshop studio.  We BET you won't even notice the smell. Try that with ANY other paint products, we dare you.  I mean, really, the wax products in the Miss Mustard Seed line smell GOOD. Like suntans and lavender. Like good, natural stuff should.

Yep, we drank the kool-aid. We love this stuff. And we'll be honest with you about where it might or might not work for you projects - cause we want you to love it, too.


Stop into the store. We'd be happy to chat with you, cover the basics, and send you home with a How To Guide and the confidence to start your projects. Pick up a couple of our sample packs of paint {they each cover a couple of picture frames, a small box, or other table-top item}.   

Still not sold? Want to know more? Want to learn the basic techniques? Sign up for one of our workshops. We currently have a few Milk Paint 101 workshops scheduled, and plan to add more plus more advanced workshops in the next month or so. We'll also add some special, seasonal-type, workshops too - think Spring, Mother's Day, etc.

You can check out our workshop dates/times/details here:

Stop in and check out the paint display in the Carver store - we'd love to chat more about it, help you choose some products, and we LOVE to see your finished projects as well {perhaps we'll beg you to do a feature of your finish project on the blog....}

Recycle. Repurpose. Relove.
Carver Junk Company