One of my favorite furniture stores in Miami is Victoria’s Armoire. Whenever I work on my interior design projects, they are the place I turn to for timeless, unique pieces. Anna and her husband Eddie have a beautiful story tied to the creation of Victoria’s Armoire…
To make the long story shorter, we basically started the store in December of 1991, in a second floor show room in the Ponce de Leon building, where the store is still located.
The idea of the store was born when we tried to find furniture for our own house; back then, in Miami, there were far fewer stores. You had the big guys like Modern Age, Eldorado and Levitz. But none of those stores had any appeal for us.
We did love some of the small antique pine shops in the Bird road business district, but the prices of antiques were too high for our modest budget.
So, with an empty office space on the second floor of my husband Eddie’s blue print business, and a new pickup truck we set out on a road trip, that took us thru Savannah, and Charleston for inspiration, and then onwards to High Point, NC to actually visit the furniture show, where we immediately knew that the finished furniture was not what we were looking for. At that time the trend in finishes were either the traditional darker finishes, and for the “edgier ” market a shiny Honey Lacquer finish.
We left High Point with a few small orders where we had managed to convince the suppliers to sell us their items unfinished. At that point we had no idea how to make new raw pine look like antique pine.
Our next stop took us to New Orleans, where we scoured the antiques stores, and on Magazine Street we hit the jackpot. There in an antique shop the owner explained how they used Briwax to finish the antique pieces after they were stripped, to give them that warm mellow finish, with that time worn soft touch. We bought our first can to try it out on the new pine we had just ordered.
In those days, there was no Internet, so the discoveries we made had to come thru long travels, and simply talking to other people about ideas, or what type of finishing techniques they had tried as well as and trial and error.
When we opened the doors, we only had a small sign on the bottom of the stairs leading up to a second floor show room without a window. It took some coaxing to get the ladies that had lunch in the Japanese restaurant to climb those stairs to take a look. Over time we had a fair crowd on Saturday, but it took Hurricane Andrew to make it go from a weekend hobby to a full time commitment.
After Hurricane Andrew we participated in the Home show at the Miami Beach convention center. Within the next few months I was able to retire from my job as assistant buyer at Burdines, Eddie closed his print shop, and we hired our first few employees.
Over the years we slowly expanded the showrooms by adding more collections and traveling to new destinations to bring in new, unique product. Our early buying trips included buying Antique Pine in England, followed by Mexican Pine from Puebla and Guadalajara.
We’ve boarded buses in Mexico with chickens to follow a shopkeeper to the factory that produced the goods for Pottery Barn and Spiegel.
We’ve taken a seven hour car ride with two Indian men that promised they were affiliated with the factory producing goods for Crate & Barrel and Williams-Sonoma. It was true. We travel to Thailand, the Philippines, China and Indonesia…
Today the store has grown to a sprawling complex of showrooms spread over two buildings and over 20,000 square feet. However the first idea has always stayed true with us. We still source for beautiful things, we differentiate ourselves by designing many of the products ourselves, and we constantly evolve our look, while still remaining true to our brand.
You can find Victoria’s Armoire on Face book and on the web at www.victoriasarmoire.net