More than a decade ago, Christine and her father moved to Abilene, Texas, for work. Her dad, who loved antiques, taught her to always carry a magnet to decipher between brass and metal when shopping yard sales. As she recalls, “We could always buy good, used furniture, hats, pins and buckles.” Christine would accompany her father at trade shows during her high school years. However, she never truly enjoyed any part of it. “It was horrible in high school, selling cowboy hats in the heat,” she said. “Then I found myself getting good buys at garage sales and found a booth at an indoor market.”
Seeing there was potential to make a profit, Christine decided to launch The Last Remains, a small, environmentally friendly business that refurbishes and sells antiques.
“Everyone throws something away, but we can take those throwaways and sell them. For instance, at estate sales, I find old suitcases and then ‘upscale’ them as pet beds,” she says. Suitcases padded with baby blankets and with chair legs attached, are among her bestselling products. “We take another item like a burned-out light bulb, remove the filament, wash it out with water and salt, then create hanging flower baskets."
Christine said she spends hours cleaning her finds and sells the new creations at an affordable price. Currently, she employs her boyfriend, who also works remodeling homes. When on the job, he obtains reusable items for crafts. For example, he brought a window frame that Christine used as a photo frame, and a screen door, which she spray-painted and uses to display earrings and accessories at shows. Christine gives new life to old items that others would have trashed. Doing this helps cut down on discarded items that end up in landfills.
Christine and her boyfriend are looking to hire a welder to make animal-shaped objects from old tools and other objects such as a wine racks made from horse shoes and wood. In the future, they plan to hire more employees to assist with working multiple flea markets on the weekends, but Christine’s major plan is to open a store within the next five years.
She discovered Accion Texas Inc., where she applied and was approved for this loan, through the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in Abilene. Christine says the loan will go a long way toward purchasing furniture, wood and new materials to immediately begin creating items.
LiftFund. (www.liftfund.com) is an award-winning nonprofit organization (previously known as Accion Texas) with a mission to provide credit and loans to small and start-up businesses that have limited or no access to credit from commercial sources. Established in 1994 in San Antonio, LiftFund has helped Texas and Louisiana entrepreneurs strengthen their businesses, stabilize and increase their incomes, create employment, and contribute to the economic revitalization of their communities. Learn more at www.liftfund.com.