Mid-century and Danish modern furniture may be a niche market, but Joe and Michelle Stroehle believe they have nailed it with their River Bend Retro store in Davenport.
The couple operated for about two years in LeClaire, but moved to 520 W. 2nd St. in November to be closer to the housing redevelopments going on downtown and the age demographic they were looking for.
"Younger people are into this more," Joe Stroehle said of the simple, slim-legged furniture of the '50s and '60s.
Although Stroehle still has his night job in pizza delivery, the store is making money selling, in addition to furniture, accessories such as lamps, starburst wall clocks, ashtrays that looks like works of art and dishes. Vinyl records and vintage clothing also are sold, but furniture is their forte.
Among the current inventory is a Broyhill Brasilia dresser, inspired by architect Oscar Niemeyer who designed many of the public buildings in Brasilia, the capital city of Brazil, in 1960. Details of Niemeyer's swooping lines and exaggerated curves were transmitted into furniture.
There's also an Eames chair, although that has been sold, and Heywood Wakefield dressers that are made of solid birch. Eames refers to Charles and Ray (his wife) Eames, two of the most important designers of the 20th century.
Other manufacturers who specialized in this type of furniture include Lane, Herman Miller, Kroehler and Flexsteel in Dubuque, and River Bend Retro sells examples of all these brands.
The Stroehles find their items at estate sales, auctions and, occasionally, thrift stores.
"The fun part is finding it," Joe Stroehle said. "We're kind of lucky here. There are a lot of people who bought it who ever threw it away. They might have moved it to the basement, but they kept it.
"We're kind of at the ground floor as far as acquiring. We're still getting things from the original owners. That's almost unheard of elsewhere."
The couple does a lot of business via Facebook and with dealers from cities such as Chicago and Minneapolis.
Stroehle said his wife was into mid-century before he knew what it was. After scouting similar shops in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City and not finding anything exactly like it in the Quad-Cities, they decided there was "a little void there we could fill," he said.
Lamps cost $75 to $110; a china cabinet is $350; a table with four to six chairs is $500 and dressers can range from $200 to $800.
Often regular customers come to the store looking for one or two pieces and "then start building from there," Stroehle said.