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Entrepreneurs

Repurposing To Build A Business

By Christina Haley O'Neal, posted Oct 16, 2020
Robert Pinney, who owns 341 Repurposed with his wife, stands at their shop among the beach-themed products they make. (Photo by Michael Cline Spencer)
Husband-and-wife team Ronald and Karen Pinney have been creating beach-themed decor for about five years.
 
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic impacts, business for the couple's home decor and furniture operation, 341 Repurposed, has been booming, so much so that they’ve had to add a storefront and new workspace to keep up with the orders coming in.
 
Born out of an artistic outlet to help with the healing process after Karen Pinney’s father passed away, Ronald Pinney credits his wife with helping bring out his artistic side, he said.
 
“We realized in the middle of it all I was artistic too,” Ronald Pinney said. “I handle the woodworking part and anything to do with straight lines, like flags, and she does all the other abstract art and dry brushing techniques and painting.
 
“It was really just based on the area we lived in. We love beach decor,” he said.
 
Working with wood isn’t new for Ronald Pinney, who spent much of his career in construction.
 
“My whole background has been construction, up until 2010 when the economy was bad. We actually had a very profitable construction company … in Charlotte, and we walked away from it all to come to Wilmington to serve in a homeless ministry,” Ronald Pinney said.
 
The Pinneys spent time with the ministry for three years, and later found a new avenue for business in 341 Repurposed.
 
But this particular economic downturn sparked by the coronavirus pandemic, has actually pushed the couple to grow the firm.
 
A lot of the couples’ festival showings were canceled this year due to mass gathering restrictions, so the Pinneys took the time to plan their new storefront location.
 
“We talked about doing a store, but there has never been enough time because we have been so busy doing festivals and markets. And then this year with COVID, we pursued the idea, based on wanting to do it and then thinking ahead, thinking that the fall shows were all going to be canceled, which most of the large stuff is gone as far as festivals,” Ronald Pinney said.
 
Prior to the pandemic, the business consisted mostly of selling at festivals in the area and in other nearby coastal markets, as well as out of state in Virginia and South Carolina. The firm also sells decor through an Etsy store online and has several locations around town where products are sold on consignment or wholesale.
 
The couple opened their new store, on Carolina Beach Road, at the end of July, on top of receiving more orders from their Etsy store, which has seen clients from places as far away as the West Coast and in Canada.
 
It’s been an interesting road for the Pinneys, with more followers on Facebook and Etsy, which has seen sales jump significantly, Ronald Pinney said.
 
“We were shocked as to what to do for the middle of March to the middle of April. But by the middle of April, we knew we wanted to start the store and we knew we were still selling. The economy hurting didn’t soften our sales,” Ronald Pinney said. “We actually had people buying our table sets with their stimulus checks.”
 
A lot of the products 341 Repurposed makes are custom pieces, such as Adirondack chairs, tables or wall decor. The couple is also making inventory to put in its storefront in Wilmington.
 
They recently opened a new workshop location at 110 Portwatch Way in September.
 
“The new space is great. We are all under one roof instead of being spread out in different units. Once we get this organized, it should help with our flow and we should be way more productive and allow us to grow,” Ronald Pinney said. “But I think we’re going to need more space the way it’s going.”
 
The couple is also seeing both new and return clients now, some of whom are building on decor for their beach properties since the tourist season has passed, he said.
 
As for their next steps, the Pinneys will soon look to add more employees to the business.
 
“We’ve been subcontracting some work, but I think we’re going to have to hire some people to help for this next part,” Ronald Pinney said, adding that there is a great need for a shop superintendent.
 
Ronald Pinney said, “We definitely need people to come in here that I can trust to make a quality product in a timely manner and help this thing grow.”


No. of employees: 2
 
Year founded: 2015
 
Top local officials: Ronald and Karen Pinney, owners
 
Company description: 341 Repurposed is a local company specializing in wooden beach-themed furniture and wall decor.
 
Products made locally: 341 Repurposed makes many forms of tables, including surf boardand traditional-shaped bar tables, farmhouse tables, coffee tables, end tables, entryway tables and sofa tables. They also make stools and benches as accessories to the tables or to be sold separately, as well as a variety of beach-themed interior and exterior wall decor. Its wall decor includes North Carolina-shaped art, handpainted, beach-themed art, flip flop- and surf board-shaped shutters and wall art.
 
What made the company decide to make its goods locally? Ronald Pinney: “We love living at beach, and we love the beach life. When we found out about the opportunities to attend and sell handmade products at local farmers markets and festivals, we made the decision to start 341 Repurposed and started making products in our garage and have grown the business enough to recently acquire a 3,000-square-foot commercial location to make our products.”
 
What’s your target market? Pinney: “In July of 2020, we opened a storefront location at 7008 Carolina Beach Road. This location will be where we will offer our products on a full-time basis, and we will continue to sell at local farmers markets and festivals. Our goal is to sell our products to locals and tourists looking for that unique gift as an addition to their home.”
 
What’s next? Pinney: “Planning to continue growing in the local market as well as growing our online sales and eventually opening new retail locations.”
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