Words By Jan Brand
Photography by Paige Taylor
Pride in craftsmanship has mostly been lost in a world in demand for the kind of consumption that created mass production. We still revere names like Stradivarius for his handmade violins that bring millions at Sotheby’s in New York City, or a Chippendale, George II Padouk cabinet that sold at Christie’s in 2008 for just over four million dollars. But it’s rare in our “Made in China,” particle-board world to find those who love excellence. More and more we see a revival in consumer demand for the authentic.
Voltaire once said, “If there wasn’t a God, we would have to invent him.” The same can be true about the renaissance of craftsmanship—things and people who make the world around us better.
Nostalgia is in great demand in the retro market and there are few with the talent and skills to restore lost beauty in a piece of good furniture. The free enterprise system, more than any other, always has someone with the ability to fill the void.
Like many success stories, Rubbish Revival, at 309 Western Hills Trail, started in Michelle Audridges’ garage to make a little extra spending money for her and her son.
Michelle always loved crafting. As an elementary school teacher, she had plenty of opportunity to be creative. When the unthinkable happened, and she and her son were the victims of a house fire that destroyed everything they had, she perfected the skill of refinishing furniture. Previous to that, she painted clocks and quotes on canvas.
The people of Granbury overwhelmed her family with their generosity after their loss, bringing clothes, furniture, food and just about everything a person needed to start over. They rummaged through the largesse of these gifts, kept what they needed and shared the rest.
Much of the furniture they received reflected someone else’s taste, so Michelle took sandpaper, paint and brush and made the piece over. The results stunned her friends, and one by one they asked her to redo one of their pieces of furniture. In time, word spread, and she was doing more and more work in her garage at night and on weekends.
Then, like Prince Charming riding to the rescue, along came Shane Scarborough, just when things began to blow up in her hobby business. Shane managed a furniture store in Abilene, but after meeting Michelle, he moved to Granbury and went to work as a rep for a flooring manufacturer. They had a lot in common and married in 2011. He had the business skills to go with Michelle’s creativity.
Adding to their exploding business, they had the daunting challenge of merging two families of four active teenagers.
The business just kept coming. In 2015 they bought pieces at estate and garage sales and Michelle worked to get them ready for some local craft shows. One week-end they sold out at Vintage Market Day. The following weekend, they sold out at Junkin’ in the Hood. They sold twenty-five pieces total over those two weekends and walked away with several orders.
Later that year they found the building at 309 Western Hills Trail, intending it for a work space and storage. It soon became necessary to have a place to show finished pieces they found through various means and opened the store.
As people of strong faith, they prayed for God’s direction and two weeks before they opened the store, they felt that Shane should quit his job and commit to full-time at Rubbish Revival. There were so many things he could do to relieve her to focus on refinishing furniture. Unlike some, they love working together, and do not have to depend on someone else for their success.
With a love of solid wood pieces and pride in her work. Michelle said, “Today’s furniture is disposable, but the pieces from the past last forever.”
A grandmother brought in an early 1900s vanity that had received coats of paint over the years; one coat of blue paint, and one of red paint. The grandmother wanted the piece restored to its original look for her four-month old granddaughter.
They had no business plan and no extra money to make a big splash, but things seemed to evolve naturally. The first non-furniture merchandise they acquired were handbags, Joyn bags, made in the Himalayans. The company is owned by retired missionaries who use the money to support an orphanage in Nepal. Each bag is hand signed by the artisan.
They sell Everlasting Jewelry, from a company in Fort Worth, who use some of the money to stop human tracking. Big Little Fudge is a candy company out of Montgomery, Texas. When Shane says it’s the “best fudge he ever ate,” having sampled it, I agree, it’s good. Soy jar candles from 1803 Candles, have some unusual down-home scents, like: Apple Dumpling, Cinnamon Crunch Latte, Spirit of Christmas and White Lilac and Cotton. Everything in the store exudes the feeling of a time when people enjoyed simpler times and enjoyed the simple things around them.
Ask Shane what he misses most about a regular job, and he’ll tell you, “sleep.” The success of Rubbish Revival keeps them up late and out of bed early. They currently have fifty-eight orders and are backed up six or eight weeks. They can only do about ten pieces a week. But those ten pieces are done with pride in workmanship.
Michelle and Shane Scarborough look for the things they like to refinish and choose meaningful merchandise to sell from people with whom they enjoy a relationship. It’s about quality in business and in lifestyle.