A new furniture repair shop and wood restoration business has opened up on Amherst Street in Black Rock. It’s called ‘That Furniture Guy.” The following interview is with owner/operator Scott O’Dell.
How did you get your start in the business?
Well… my older brother was working at a place called the Furniture Hospital. Many many moons ago. When he was 15/16 years old and at the time, and it was too far for me to go to, with me only being 12 and all. But I’m sure he didn’t want me going there anyways. As fate would have it, they ended up moving right around the corner from my house on Hertel Avenue, and my parents allowed me to go there and help out with light sanding and staining. You can say the rest was history. I’ve been working on woodwork ever since, although I did quit school for 2 weeks to work at a car wash. I thank God whenever I think about it – working at car wash was a mistake. McKinley H.S. allowed me to come back to graduate.
What sort of repairs do you specialize in?
I do just about anything with wood or upholstery furniture. I’ve been known as “That Furniture Guy” forever, and then some. I do clean ups and touch ups, gluing stripping, color matching… full restorations as well and upholstery repairs. I can even help you out – if you have a sofa and it’s broken in your house, I’ll take it apart inside my shop (or in your garage or driveway – not when it’s raining) and I’ll put it back together in your house, in any room you want it in.
So if its furniture, I’m sure I can fix it. But I also do restoration of woodwork in homes – stripping and refinishing of stairs, doors, mantels, etc. Just about anything wood in your home.
Where does your experience come from?
I also worked at almost all of the local new furniture stores, learning how to do touch ups and repairs. And of course service calls. But I remember when the original owner sold The Furniture Hospital to my friend (John Bond) and long time worker there, I just knew I had to work for myself. If he could do it, I could do it, I said to myself.
One day The Furniture Hospital got a call about new furniture repair and it was the wholesaler Direct Buy of Buffalo. I think I was working at Value City Furniture at the time. They ended passing my number along. Direct Buy told me they were getting a lot of furniture coming in damaged, so I started doing their repairs for them. After a few months they asked me if I could do it full time and that they would give me my own shop and I could do whatever I wanted work-wise. As long as I was there to fix their furniture for them, which I still got paid for. I got the shop for free, and how could I say no to that? And that’s how the business “That Furniture Guy” around 15 years ago.
Well, I grew up here. This is where I feel the most comfortable. Plus all my family, friends and contacts are here. It’s a great part of the city, and for what I’ve always seen, people here have your back. You just can’t beat that.
Where were you before that?
From 2010 to 2014 I was in South Buffalo on South Park Avenue, not to far from South Park High School. By the time 2014 ended, I found myself working out of my van again. And with me being a single dad at the time, I had to choose my kids or my shop. I chose the loves of my life (my kids). At the time I was living in Hamburg and I had to get kids on the bus at 8am. Then I had to be back home at noon to get my son Talas off the bus (1/2 days), then again at 3:30pm to get my daughter Kadence and older son Mercury. Not everyday but a lot of those days.
It wasn’t easy – I had no time for a shop. So when 2 years passed, I ended up making the worst and biggest mistake of my life by getting a partner to share a shop with – the shop was in Elma NY. That was 2016. I can honestly say that was a living hell. I said that I would never do something so stupid ever again. I would also tell anyone who would listen, to never ever get a partner. After that debacle, it took me a few months to find the shop on Amherst Street. I was just talking with a friend, and he said that he knew of a place. He sent me all the details about it. I signed the lease and now I couldn’t be happier! I love that I’m back in this part of Buffalo again.
Now that Buffalo is “coming back”, do you find that there are more jobs in the city?
Wow… That’s an understatement! I’m busier now then ever before. Everyone wants the natural beauty of the original woodwork back in their homes. Right now I do more houses than furniture. But with the opening of the shop in Black Rock, again I’m hoping I can have an equal balance of both furniture and home restorations. Well, that’s my goal anyways.
How many people do you have working on projects? I pretty much do everything. Once in a while I’ll have my younger brother help me out, or my cousin. For the most part, it’s just me. But the jobs a are getting bigger and more people are calling… So I’m sure I’ll be hiring people soon for the big summer push. It’s another goal of mine.
I started out just doing furniture. When I turn 18 or so I began doing restoration jobs. I started taking in home jobs, stripping and refinishing wood work. I still remember my 1st job – I stripped and refinish a painted kitchen on the East Side of Buffalo. I really didn’t know what I was doing and it took me forever to finish. But I never felt so proud of myself as I did after that job was done. I knew right there that I could do this for a living. I know the customer was happy as well, because I ended up doing the same thing to the upstairs apartment.
To what extent do you repair upholstery? I used to do full upholstery, but it just takes up to much room and takes too long. Now I just do repairs – stuffing of arms and backs, I’ll replace and attach cushions, fix broken arms and springs. Just about anything. I do stitching as well. People laugh at me when I tell them I can do that. I guess it’s because of my tattoos… lol!
So, you’re know as “That Furniture Guy”? Was that a former business name, or did you clients coin that for you? People used to call the Furniture Hospital and ask if we did house calls. So finally I said “yes.” After awhile people would call back for something else but wouldn’t remember my name. So they just kept asking for me as “that furniture guy”. They would say “he came to my house.” So the guys at the shop would know that the customers were calling for me. So I guess it was given to me by my repeat customers who couldn’t remember my name. It didn’t become official until I started my own business. Thanks to Direct Buy of Buffalo.
Is this a one stop shop for wood repairs within the house?
The shop is for furniture repair… anything and everything except for leather repairs. Almost all home restoration is done in the customer’s home unless they decide to take the woodwork off or they give me all the doors in the house. But I’m ok with that too.
Have you worked on any high profile projects? I think every job is a high profile job. I have worked on the 1st church ever built in Batavia (First Baptist Church). I did the front entrances there (4 doors) they wanted to bring back some life to the church and they wanted people to know they were still open for service (no pun intended). That was super cool to be a part of. I did the woodwork in the Knights of Columbus on Delaware by Allen Street (now know as The Knights Apartments). I did a science lab at Daeman College. And my favorite was the front doors of the church I used to go to as a kid for all their lawn fawns at 986 Grant Street – right in Buffalo and right in the heart of Black Rock. I think it was called Assumption Church back then.
Is there a favorite type of job that you get excited to tackle?
Churches. I just love them. I haven’t done too many, but the few I have, just gives me goose bumps. The history and the craftsmanship in the woodwork. You just can’t beat that feeling. Especially when you’re inside there by yourself and your just sitting there and looking around at all the history. I really can’t explain it. Nothing beats that feeling.
Are there certain jobs that you tend to stay away from? Leather jobs…. I can’t repair leather. Luckily, when I worked in Florida, I worked for a furniture store that had better techs in leather that could fix my bad repairs… lol!
Nothing against anyone, but I love the people who just let me do my thing. Who believe in me and my work. That’s what I love. I don’t mind people asking some questions. But asking me my next steps or my game plan… or you’re not gonna leave that like that are you?, it drives me crazy. Believe it or not, it even throws me off my work. It makes me worry more about what they are gonna ask me next, and how am I gonna answer their questions, than the work I’m doing for them.
What’s new for 2017, other than a new location?
As far as work goes, everything just should be as normal as ever. Hopefully just more of it. I would like to hire 3 or 4 people. And maybe get some jobs from the City or State. And I wouldn’t mind more people knowing who I am and what I do. I’m That Furniture Guy and I Save Buffalo’s history.
I just want to thank the original owner and the current owner of The Furniture Hospital. They taught me so much and helped me out more times then I can count. Also Direct Buy of Buffalo for my very first (free) shop.. I don’t think I would have quit my job without it. I don’t wanna thank Kyle, the guy that screwed me over on the shop in Elma, but without him I wouldn’t be back in Buffalo. I wouldn’t be bigger and better then ever, and I wouldn’t push myself as much as I have. So in some strange way, I do want to thank him and wish him the best of luck as well.
Saving Buffalo History is what I do. I won’t ever retire. I’m gonna do it until I die.
That Furniture Guy | 259 Amherst Street | Buffalo, NY 14207 | 716-548-4879 | Facebook