Bart Taylor is living the dream thanks to his vintage home decor store, ReFind. When the shop first opened in 2008, it was because Bart wanted to be his own boss. He's a self-made man of sorts, as he says, "I grew up not really having much. I never graduated high school, and I really wanted to show myself and my family that I could achieve something."
The shop first began at a small, 400-square-foot storefront at 30th and Main, then relocated down the hill to 3rd Avenue for a few years before eventually returning home to its original location, which has since been renovated and expanded to an impressive 1,800 square feet.
Today, the well-used showroom is packed full of mid-century retro home decor gems. Bart estimates that ReFind has several thousand pieces in total, most of which originate from the 1950’s to 1970’s.
ReFind specializes in furniture, lighting and art from well-known and unknown artists (90 per cent of the artworks on display are signed originals). As well as larger furnishings, the store also carries barware, cups and lots of other small, fun pieces.
Bart always allows his personal taste to be his guide rather than a Sotheby’s catalogue, and that seems to be the secret to his success. As he puts it, “I just buy what I like. If it looks good and I think I can sell it, then I’m interested.”
Bart also places an emphasis on the store’s ambiance, rather than on its bottom line. At ReFind, he wanted to steer clear of the somewhat pretentious vibe he felt many vintage and antique stores gave off. “I never went into a vintage shop that I felt was approachable and fun," he recalls. "I wanted to build an environment where people felt really comfortable and not pressured to buy stuff.”
Bart understands, too, that the bottom line isn’t what really makes people happy. “I have friends that grew up quite wealthy, but they were no happier as life went on," he says. "Happiness has nothing to do with the money, but it's about enjoying what you do every day. If you’re lucky, other people will like what you do, too.”
Part of what gives Bart this clear perspective on happiness is his previous work as a caregiver for men with brain injuries, work that helped Bart understand how important it is to live each day to its fullest.
Another key piece of the puzzle for Bart is how his business fits into the community. “The community on Main Street is a very important part of ReFind,” he says, “I think, in general, that there’s a huge lack of community in Vancouver and that people are becoming very disenchanted with that.”
Those who stop by the store on any given Friday or Saturday might see Bart’s community-oriented philosophy in action at an impromptu gathering. Bart recounts the story of a Saturday morning that a neighbourhood friend showed up with his barbecue and began making pulled pork. Later that day, some newcomers ventured in and were given pulled pork sandwiches and glasses of wine.
Those newcomers ended up buying some furniture, but they certainly weren’t pressured into doing so, because, for Bart, “It’s about more than just selling really cool stuff. It’s about building an environment that people want to be around.” And that is how Bart is building community, and his own success: one would-be customer at a time.