Wendy Brown turns treasures into business

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 30, 2012

By Shavonne Potts
CHINA GROVE – Wendy Brown has always been a treasure hunter of sorts. She scouts yard sales and discount furniture stores to find just the right piece to strip and remake.
Brown has been a stay-at-home mom, preacher’s wife and a closet decorator. For years, she has staged homes for the holidays and done interior design for friends and family. Just recently Brown added “entrepreneur” to her titles.
She learned to strip, sand and refurbish old furniture pieces from her husband, Terry, who owns and runs China Grove Hardware.
There was a lot of trial and error, she said.
“We did it together,” she said.
Now Brown has put many of the pieces she’s restored up for sale in a little space at the front of the hardware store.
In the back of the store, Brown has a work space filled with her most current projects in various stages of completion.
One of the projects is a small vanity she bought that was painted pink. Brown intends to strip the pink paint, sand it and repaint it for a young girl.
She also has a coffee table that cost her very little that she’ll prime and repaint. In the midst of priming and painting, Brown will also take apart and repaint an inexpensive chandelier she recently bought.
Brown’s love for the creative began in high school. She always had an interest in fashion and design. She even took some interior design courses in college.
“As a pastor’s wife, I did a lot for the church,” she said of those early days.
Terry is pastor of Homestead Baptist Church in Kannapolis.
Brown would decorate the church fellowship hall for events, which lead to designing weddings and then decorating people’s homes for the holidays.
“This is the first business venture that I’ve put a name on,” she said.
• Tragedy into triumph
Brown named her business Elijah’s Treasures after daughter Terrin Wright and her husband, Jacob, lost their unborn baby Elijah. The baby would have been born in September.
It was a devastating loss to the family. Brown would have been a grandmother for the first time. She and Terrin had been decorating what would have been Elijah’s nursery.
Reeling from the loss, Brown was also about to turn 50 and in need of healing.
She turned to God for her purpose. Brown was spending time with her daughter, she said, and it just happened.
“I had this vision and a dream,” she said.
She hadn’t been able to sleep one night, and she believed God was telling her, “the timing is right,” she said.
She wanted to create something that inspired her and might also inspire others.
It was also symbolic of the way the family was taking a tragedy and turning it into something that would move others.
On Aug. 11, Brown celebrated her 50th birthday and an open house to showcase her work.
Rare finds
The space at the hardware store reflects her personality, Brown said.
“I’m multifaceted. I like old vintage and new modern with a twist,” she said.
The area has side tables painted in bright yellow and green. An antique door that she and a friend stripped now has jewelry hanging from it.
“If I can’t find it. I make it,” she said.
Sometimes Brown makes a find at a store and immediately has an idea of how to change it. She saw a cherry oak side table at a yard sale and knew its edges needed to be smoothed and painted yellow.
“Some pieces speak to you.”
• Teamwork
Terry knows the right types of tools she should use and can make repairs to a piece.
“We are a team. We always have been,” she said.
They have two other children – Ali, a sophomore at N.C. State University, and Chandler, a senior at South Rowan High.
Brown says her son and husband are the muscle behind the operation.
Brown said she started small, but would love someday to see it grow.
For more information about Elijah’s Treasures contact Wendy and Terry Brown at China Grove Hardware, 704-857-2319.