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Something Old is Something New

In this retailer spotlight, Jim Kightlinger, shares his philosophy around creating a new look for an old product.Repurposing Products in Retail When we hopped on the phone with Jim Kightlinger owner of Kightlinger Antiques in Kickapoo, IL we thought we would be talking to him about how he plans his buying trips to Atlanta (and let us tell you they are big trips!). But, what we found really fascinating is how Jim has the vision to take seemingly ordinary, unrelated products, and combine them to create something wonderful.

Here’s an example: On the day we talked to Jim he said he was just leaving Chicago’s Crate and Barrel outlet. He’d bought a couple tables.

We were immediately curious. What was this Antiques shop owner doing buying tables at a retailer synonymous with the modern home?

Before we get to the answer we need to know a little more about how things work at Kightlinger Antiques…

Jim’s philosophy is that, to succeed, a retailer must “look beyond their yard, or beyond their driveway, to see how they can use an item to make it more.”

For example, he likes to use products in unexpected ways. Jim share’s the story of an Owl themed Christmas tree created featuring owls that were part of the Melrose Garden collection. “We did a whole tree with the Owls (they were tabletop figures) and we put them in the tree and did it up…with white glass pinecones and glittery silver ornaments.” The program was a big success, “We sold so many of the owls I had to reorder – and they weren’t even ornaments!”

If the unexpected doesn’t quite suite your shopper, perhaps taking a trend item and toning it down a bit will. Jim likes the succulent wreath Melrose sells but he adds a complimentary ribbon to it. “Then,” he explains, “we may add in floral from a wreath that we have that didn’t sell to customize it for our customers’ taste.”

Another trick? Jim suggests moving products from one setting to another to create new interest. “Melrose used to have large Chicken Statues. We used them in a Farm Christmas Tree and later in spring put them in a Chicken Coop setting in the shop. We sold a heck of a lot because people liked the way they look in the coop.”

Where does all this regrouping and repurposing leave you? Jim puts it well, “I don’t like the idea that a sale implies you mark items up to mark them down. So I avoid them. Instead…I repurpose items and change them into something new.”

So back to those tables from Crate and Barrel. Why is this antiques retailer buying tables (more than 1!) at the most modern of modern retailers? His answer? “I am buying them for the legs.”

In yet another project, Jim plans to use the legs as a base for a table made from “red cedar planks that I got in Gatlinburg, Tenn at a sawmill”. Apparently good table legs are quite expensive so repurposing these legs will save money and complete the table’s “rustic but modern” look.

We can’t wait to see how these tables—and Jim’s many other projects— come together for Kightlinger Antiques.

Are you a fan of repurposing and reusing products in new ways? We’d love to hear about your story in the comments section below.

Melrose International is an industry leader in wholesale home décor, giftware, and seasonal items. Providing outstanding products, service, design, and value since 1985!

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