FAIRBANKS — The art of home decorating, according to Roxy Frey, is finding one piece at a time “that tells your story.”
You can go to a furniture store and fill a room with matching items, “but you haven’t created a style of your own,” Frey said.
Creating a personal style takes time. Frey can help with that. She owns Roxy’s Secondhand at the corner of College Road and Illinois Street.
Her main business is buying old wooden furniture, stripping it and painting it to look vintage. But she also sells old things, rare things, toys and Alaskana.
Last week, Frey’s inventory included refurbished bureaus, tables, desks and bookcases; rusted tools; Alaska license plates; an old pair of snowshoes; DVDs; sea shells; a copper tea pot; beaded slippers; vintage glassware; animal skulls; costume jewelry; and candelabras.
“As soon as something sells, something else takes its place,” Frey said. “It depends on what I find or what I have created.”
The mother of three taught herself to redo furniture 10 years ago, opened a store on Airport Way and started to build a clientele.
Her hours are 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, allowing her time to hunt for new pieces and work on new projects.
Refurbishing wooden furniture is the latest in a long line of occupations for Frey, who grew up on a ranch in Montana and came to Fairbanks in 1986.
She has also worked as a waitress, bartender, bar owner, house cleaner, innkeeper, cook and dental assistant. Operating the secondhand store is her longest running occupation.
“I actually didn’t want a store,” Frey said.
After a year of people driving out to her home to purchase items, Frey said her husband found her a storefront. She called her shop Airport Secondhand. She changed it to Roxy’s, she said, because that’s what customers were calling it.
Her former location is now torn down. It was “low rent and got us started,” she said.
“When it rained outside, it rained inside,” Frey said.
Customers would empty the buckets for her. Frey is not great with names but she remembers the things people buy and their tastes, she said.
She loves when customers send her photos of her furniture in their homes.
“I have a lot of really good customers that turned into friends,” she said.
She is willing to keep an eye out for special items. She sells things on layaway and offers limited custom furniture painting.
“I like to buy good used wood furniture. I am very picky about that. No particle board,” Frey said.
One of her favorite items currently in the store is a 7-foot tall secretary for $680. Frey also has a blue distressed two-piece china cabinet with a hutch for $430. A two-sided antique bench is for sale for $280.
The store feels like an antique shop “because I like old stuff,” Frey said.
She posts pictures of new items on her store’s Facebook page twice a week.
Contact staff writer Amanda Bohman at 459-7587. Follow her on Twitter:@FDNMborough.