FARGO—Jeff Kale knew more about how he could refurbish things he found on the curb than what he would do with the finished products, at least when he started collecting.
The results of his hard work and his daughter's creativity are now on display in a downtown Fargo store where locals can find new treasures made largely from items that otherwise would've gone to the landfill.
Jeff Kale and Erica Kale opened Finders Keepers ND, 512 Broadway N., in October, taking over a small space previously used by Cardboard Kings.
Erica Kale, an apparel textile merchandising and design alumna from North Dakota State University, had to talk her dad into turning their creative side project into a store.
But the business is both of theirs, a result of using their individual skills after accumulating a good amount of "projects"—old furniture and stuff they collected—and realized their work could appeal to a broader audience.
"We mutually decided just to pick stuff up that was fun, and then redo it because we had all the stuff," she said. "It was kind of like, 'Let's start trying to sell some stuff.' "
A new idea
Kale said he was inspired a couple years ago by shows like "Flea Market Flip" and a growing realization that old furniture and decor could be kept out of the trash with just a little work.
That's when he first went curb hunting during the community's 2015 cleanup week, an annual event when just about anyone can leave almost anything on their curb to be picked up and discarded for free.
He wasn't the cleanup week kind of guy prior to that, but said there was something about the stuff on curbs that year that made him spring into action.
His collection became the starting point for a business, and Kale and his daughter launched Finders Keepers ND in April 2017 to sell products at vendor shows.
Erica Kale said the storefront became available several months later, and she "wanted to get in on the fun" of having a downtown business. The store opened in October, and Jeff Kale said he's taking it slow for now just to see what customers want.
He's able to do some of the work, whether it's painting furniture or replacing a wood top, in a small space in the back of the store. He also refurbishes things at his house in Fargo.
It's a creative outlet for Kale, a freelance graphic designer, as well as his daughter, who is the manager of downtown boutique Kindred People when she's not helping her dad.
He said their work also accomplishes something good.
"Our purpose was to salvage stuff that people are just wasting and throwing away and just going to the landfill," he said.
Not everything is a treasure in disguise. Kale looks for furniture made with real wood, not particle board. He also ignores most fabric furniture, though his daughter has reupholstered smaller things like barstools.
And there are things he finds that he won't keep, such as bicycles and furniture that he donates to thrift stores or other organizations.
Erica Kale said some people still want farmhouse-style items, which their store does sell, while others are looking for mid-century modern furniture. They're able to offer both, such as with a 1970s buffet that was repurposed by removing three drawers, stripping the surface and painting parts of it black.
It doesn't always work out, and they've had to pull the plug on a couple ambitious projects. But Jeff Kale said he enjoys being able to turn a discarded thing into a treasured new piece.
Erica Kale, too, enjoys watching the transformation that's based on her dad's hard work and her ideas.
"It's definitely fun hunting to find stuff," she said.
What: Finders Keepers ND
Where: 512 Broadway N., Fargo
Hours: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday (hours will be flexible during the holiday season)
Phone: (701) 261-9448