To many, they were trash —
buried in a rotting house, covered with garbage — but to College Park residents Chad and Krisi Hora, they were treasure.
“The house was so bad; it was completely disheveled, completely filled with mold and garbage,” Chad Hora said, motioning to a futuristic set of round white chairs. “And then, there was this one Lucite chair.”
A “bit of dish soap” later, the couple displayed the now-spotless chairs in the front window of their new secondhand furniture store, Peg Leg Vintage Goods. The store, about 2 miles north of the university along Route 1, sells a smorgasbord of used furniture and accessories. It opened Friday to better-than-expected business, which the owners attribute to city support for small businesses and a local retail “void” for vintage furniture.
“There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of actual retail shopping in College Park and especially unique things that differ from your wide chain stores,” Krisi said.
Peg Leg is more accessible than the furniture stores on Washington’s U Street, Chad said. College Park Economic Development Coordinator Michael Stiefvater wrote in an email that the store provides a “nice alternative” to standard IKEA or Mario’s Warehouse Furniture and Mattress products, two of the few stores in College Park offering similar products.
The Horas decided to open their store after Chad ended his 11-year military career as an Arabic linguist. It was a “natural evolution” for the couple: Before joining the military, Chad operated a record store in Wisconsin, and Krisi has almost 20 years of experience working in online furniture sales and displays and interior design.
“We were like, ‘Let’s do something fun,’” Krisi said. “The worst that can happen is it doesn’t work out and we get grown-up jobs again.”
She’d thought “about five people” would come during the first week, but since opening, about 125 to 150 people have stopped by. The couple already sold everything from its 1950s Hawaiian-inspired tiki section, mostly to college students and “hipster adults,” Krisi said.
Inside, the store is a patchwork of color and historical snapshots. Couches, tables and chairs in a mix of shapes and designs are scattered amid modern sculptures, chandeliers and Aztec head decorations.
Though the couple prefers mid-century modern style, the store carries everything from 1920s and ’30s art deco pieces to French provincial, Scandinavian, vintage industrial and Hollywood regency. The store is “like an amoeba,” Chad said, constantly changing.
They gather stock at estates, auctions or the occasional garage sale. They say their pieces are quirky but high quality. Many pieces could last at least 200 more years, they said.
Selling vintage is “environmentally friendly” and against the “corporate world” because they’re “taking stuff out of dumpsters and putting them back into circulation,” Chad said. He hoped this aspect, as well as lower prices and unique furniture, would appeal to college students.
On opening day, a group of students stopped in, interested in the giant Alaskan caribou head affectionately known as Monty.
“Younger people don’t want to have an apartment full of IKEA,” Chad said. “You want to have unique stuff, but you don’t want to spend thousands of dollars on it.”
At Peg Leg — named for the “quirky” tapered legs of much of the store’s furniture — chair prices range from $25 to $35, and coffee tables go for as low as $20. They carry high-end items, too, such as an orange 1960s soft swivel chair priced at $450.
For two people who like to “be their own boss,” College Park’s support for small business is appealing, Chad said. The city helped them find their location, promote their store and training for a small business. Since opening, residents have promoted the store over social media, and neighbors have come in to introduce themselves, he said.
Though the store is open from noon to 7 p.m. Thursday through Sunday, it’s really open whenever the owners are there — which they said is almost all the time. On Tuesday morning, for instance, Ellicott City real estate agent Beverly Tutman walked in, despite the “closed” sign, and the Horas guided her to the bedroom furniture section.
“I like it all — I could put everything in our home right here,” Tutman said.
As they settle into their new home, the owners hope to reach out to customers through weekly Facebook updates on store offerings.
For the couple, finding unwanted furniture is a way of scrapbooking history, one chair at a time.
“Everything has a story,” Krisi said. “It’s almost art, in a way.”
Editor's note: Due to a reporting error, a previous version of this story misstated the source of the store's stock. The article has been updated to reflect the correction.