By Christine Miyawa
Delta Digital News Service

POCAHONTAS – Walking into The Roost, one may mistake the furnishings on sale as brand new. The touch of snow-white color exudes the ambiance of a rich country with a splash of Bohemian flavor.
The merchandise may look new, but most of the furnishings are from a different era. An era when quality and functionality trampled the mere aesthetic value. Quality quite elusive in most of today’s house furnishing. But don’t be mistaken, the store refurbished all the furnishings.

From a hobby to a full-time occupation, Kimberly Jo Chaffin started refurbishing and selling furnishings while still in college. She did it for five years while in business school. Chaffin taught herself from watching videos.  She began by painting her furniture.

“I had junk furniture and did not have a lot of money, so I painted it to make it look nice. I would disassemble the furniture and play around with the pieces to create a new pattern. It takes practice and patience,” she said.

It wasn’t until a year later when she could paint a profitable furnishing.

“I look back at the furniture I did when I started and say, ‘Geez, did I do that?’”

After attaining her degree from business school, she worked in the public school system for eight years. Chaffin said she felt she needed a more flexible schedule to cope with family demand.  She decided to revisit her old hobby, rented a booth in a store in Walnut Ridge and engrossed herself into refurbishing.

In 2016, she moved the business to Pocahontas. She opened her store in 2,200 sq. Feet building across the road from the Pocahontas Municipal Airport along Highway 67.

By the seventh month after the store opened, the business expanded so fast she needed more space. She moved the store to its current location in 7,000 sq. Feet building along Highway 62. She named the store “The Roost”.

Chaffin said the name ‘The Roost’ started with the coming to Pocahontas of Peco Foods Company a chicken processing plant.

She said Peco made a big difference in the economy of Randolph County and they wanted a throwback to Peco.

“I affiliate the name “Roost” with chicken and since our store theme is a farmhouse, we thought, why not use the name “The Roost,” she said.

Chaffin buys used furniture, mostly made of wood like hickory and White Oak. She refurbishes and re-sells them.

“All the furnishings in the store are mostly real wood,” she said.

Chaffin said most of her buyers like the looks of the items. The piece may remind them of their childhood. The store focuses on the farmhouse look, which most locals like. The store custom paints too.

She said to buy a dresser in a store chain, one would pay over $1,000. Whereas one can come to the Roost and find something trendy, midcentury look or farmhouse look for a fraction of that cost. Sometimes a third of the cost.

Recently, a refurbished hardwood dresser at The Roost went for the price of a new vanity dresser with a similar design at Bed Bath and Beyond, a chain store for furnishings and housewares.

“We are not a flea market. We are an upscale resale store. We base our prices on what we paid for the item,” Chaffin said.

In setting her price point, she factors in the cost of hiring someone to run the store while she moves around sourcing for items.

She sources furnishings from Texas, Illinois and upper western Arkansas. Sometimes people call them or send them messages on their Facebook page to pick up items for re-sale.

“A lady I sold to a piece of furniture two years ago and she wanted to re-sell it again, so I went, looked at it and saw it was still in good shape. Bought it and resold it a few days after,” she said.

Chaffin said her business extends to the states of Missouri, Tennessee and most parts of Arkansas. She markets her goods on Facebook and receives customers from as far as South Dakota.

“A customer was sending children to Williams Baptist College and arranged to have a two-sitter glider set shipped from The Roost to South Dakota,” she said

Myra Alexander, a frequent customer at The Roost, said she likes shopping there because the store sells authentic items.

“They are livable; they are comfortable with my grandkids. They have good stuff,” she said.

She said the store calls her when they bring in items she may like.

“I couldn’t find something for less than 1,500 at Hesner, so I called The Roost, told them what I wanted, and they went looking for it and called me. They are personable with me,” Alexander said.

She said her living room contains a modern section and she uses items from the Roost to blend her furnishings. Alexander said the art of painting furniture also inspires one to get creative and do something beautiful to their old furniture.

She said she likes shopping at places like Bed Bath and Beyond, but their products are too commercial looking, and they produce many pieces of the same thing.

“The Roost sells authentic and different items you won’t see anyone where else. If you see something at The Roost, you better get it because next time it won’t be there and it’s not like you can get the same kind at Walmart or Bed Bath and Beyond,” Alexander said.

Chef Donald Smith moved to Pocahontas from New Orleans six weeks ago to work as the new executive chef of Rolling Hills Country Club in Pocahontas.

Moving into a new town, Smith needed furnishings for his new house.  He first bumped into the Roost by chance as he walked across the road from a nearby supermarket.

“I’m the type of guy that likes antique stuff, so I don’t mind if it’s refurbished.  If it’s nice, I buy it and the price point at the Roost is good. Some of their prices are not expensive at all, but I didn’t find what I wanted,” Smith said.

Smith wanted a TV stand and not finding one at the Roost, he decided to look at Walmart. He said even though he did not find the TV stand at the Roost, he will go back there to look for other stuff.

Human resource manager at Walmart, Sherley Ringo said she knows there are other stores out there, but she is confident about the products Walmart offers.

“Walmart stocks a variety of items to meet higher demand,” Ringo said.

If spoilt for choice on a place to shop for furnishings, Smith said, “I prefer buying at the Roost because it’s local and the money stays within the community.  If I buy in stores like Walmart, the money won’t stay here in the community.”

Chaffin said the benefit of shopping at a re-sale, refurbished shop like The Roost can replicate looks at a fraction of the cost.

So far, two individuals approached her and asked if she would consider opening a branch of The Roost in Missouri. The second one offered to run the store three days a week if she would open a branch in Paragould. But Chaffin said the present store takes all her energy and leaves no time to spare nor desire to open branches.

She does not consider franchising either because she did not patent the name “The Roost.”

She said her goal is to give customers pleasant shopping experience. She wants to help them get what they want without looking through a bunch of junk to get it or spending so much money on a low-quality item at a chain store.

Chaffin said her main challenge is to keep the right attitude when running behind on a customized item. She said working with family member poses its kind of problem, especially when dealing with illness in the family. However, the store allows her flexibility to take care of her ill mother.

The popularity of her refurbished goods continues to drive up the cost of the materials she uses for refurbishing, which in turn, raises the price of the items. But the niche market for her kind of goods continues to snowball.