OCEAN CITY – When it comes to the store Remember When, many different words are used to describe it — shabby chic, antiques, collectibles, vintage, handmade and one-of-a-kind finds.
Remember When is tucked back in Selbyville off Route 54 nestled between Route 113 and Coastal Highway. The building has had multiple purposes in the past, most recently an antique store, and that is what the Hess family has kept it except with a twist.
“Everyone that finds us is happy that they found us,” Brian Hess said.
When it comes to running the family business, there are roles to fill. Mary Ann Hess, mother to Jeff and Brian, is busy studying the new and upcoming trends when it comes to interior design and arranges the store the best way to exhibit the furniture and collectibles.
Jeff Hess travels between his home, Fredrick, and the beach to bring ornate furniture and treasures he has come across along the way.
Brian Hess refurbishes all of the finds and brings them back to life as well as repurposes bits and pieces of hardware to create a unique piece of furniture.
Remember When focuses on meeting the demand of what is in style in the area, such as the desire for shabby chic furniture, which is furniture painted and distressed to fit a beach cottage theme.
“It is really a big coastal style; shabby chic, coastal chic, cottage chic,” Brian Hess said. “It is all kind of one thing in here mixed together.”
The Hess brothers explained when it comes to furniture or wood alone, the older the better and that new furniture is not the best quality because it is made out of pressed or particle board.
“Old solid wood pieces are the biggest things … we only buy furniture that is sold wood, and made in the USA that is what we strive for,” Brian said.
They acquire furniture that has been discarded or through auctions, flea markets, and consignment trades. The furniture is than refurbished or repurposed and eventually placed on the store’s floor for sale.
Besides used furniture, Brian builds custom furniture, such as farm tables, coffee tables, entertainment centers, headboards and mantels, and his work derives from lumber scraps.
“I really like to use my hands,” he said. “I buy scraps of furniture … and cut them up and use them in different ways. It is an art to me and a lot of fun to make.”
Brian will also buy and dismantle 100- to 200-year-old barns, which are made of wood that is hard to come by these days.
“It’s good wood,” he said. “You can’t find wood on the market like that … I don’t build anything with new lumber. There is enough old lumber out there; enough trees have been cut down through the years. There is wood out there to be used.”
Jeff used Chestnut for example. This type of wood has been hard to come by for at least 80 years now.
“People just go crazy for a wood they can’t have,” he said.
Every couple weeks new pieces will make their way from the workshop or the warehouse to be displayed on Remember When’s floor.
“We are constantly changing,” Mary Ann said.
Other than adding to its own collection, Remember When provides a furniture repair and restoration service for those who are looking to save or add life to their own furniture.
“We keep a lot of wood from going to the dumpster and maybe can encourage someone else to keep that heirloom that they thought about throwing away,” Brian said.
There is a treasure to find for everybody at Remember When, not just furniture, such as vintage cameras and toys.
Don’t be afraid to ask for a piece in particular because besides 4,500 square feet of retail space there is also a 1,300-square-foot warehouse and workshop storing more items similar to what is in the store.
Remember When opened Memorial Day weekend of 2011.
“Why? Because we started collecting a bunch of antiques from going to auctions,” Jeff said. “We all have a bone for auctions in our blood.”
The family was raised to explore auctions and flea markets and prior to opening Remember When provided consignment shops with inventory.
“Our grandfather installed a lot of our values as far as taking apart, refinishing, saving, salvaging and altering,” Jeff said reminiscing to the first auction his “Pap” took him to.
“There is a good bit of pride in our work and that all goes back to the values that were installed by our Pap,” Jeff said.
To keep up with Remember When, visit its Facebook page, which is continually uploaded with the most current projects.