The mid-century modern furniture shop known as Retrospektiv was started on a whim, almost accidentally, by cofounders Craig MacFarlane and Brian Eckelhoff. They were redecorating their home—a renovated cottage on the shores of Lake Grapevine and were swapping out some of their furniture.
“We thought we could sell some of this stuff, so we posted on Craigslist. When we sold 10 pieces in three weeks, we realized there was absolutely a market, and jumped in,” says MacFarlane.
They bought a select inventory and within a month opened their first location. It was a gallery inside an antique store in Lewisville, Texas. The business caught on faster than expected. Within six months the couple outgrew their initial space and expanded to 1,000 square feet in the Lewisville gallery and a 1,500-square-foot warehouse for back stock down the street.
“It’s grown exponentially in the first few years,” MacFarlane says of the business that opened in 2013. Just this month they made the leap from Lewisville to Dallas’ Design District, and into a 4,200-squarefoot showroom.
“We decided the Design District is better for the business based on the neighborhood and the similar types of businesses there,” says MacFarlane. “We’re able to bring furniture and accessories to the public in the Dallas area and all over the metroplex because it’s such a good location.”
MacFarlane attributes Retrospektiv’s incredible growth partially to the business’ active online presence. Formerly in marketing, MacFarlane was strategic about their outreach, and has now garnered over 15,000 Facebook followers.
The couple also has an eye for design, and they offer design services in-house. “With all the clean lines of mid-century modern furniture, you can’t go wrong. You can either go whole-hog mid-century modern or mix pieces with a lot of other contemporary and modern furniture. Its blend well with any sort of décor,” says MacFarlane. Retrospektiv is a one-stop shop with reupholstering services in period-appropriate fabrics as well.
Perhaps what’s most noticeable when browsing their extremely user-friendly website, is the affordability of the inventory. It almost seems like a fluke to be able to purchase an authentic mid-century wood-constructed dresser for less than $500, yet MacFarlane says that’s part of their business plan.
“We try and get the best value for our customers,” he says, and the couple goes to great lengths to ensure that their inventory stays affordable. They have “pickers” all over, from the Midwest to the northern states and even some in Canada, who buy pieces at estate sales and ship the inventory to Dallas.
“If we were buying inventory in Dallas at estate sales, our prices would have to be much higher. There’s a lot more choice of mid-century modern pieces up north and at more reasonable prices, so we’re able to bring those pieces down here,” MacFarlane says.
A huge asset of Retrospektiv’s broad reach is that it’s able to offer designs that aren’t typically seen in the South. “We’re bringing down pieces that are unique to the Dallas market,” MacFarlane says. “The Canadian mid-century modern designs were much more influenced by the Danish modern. You just don’t see pieces like that here.”
And many of the most widely sought-after designs are from furniture makers such as Herman Miller, American of Martinsville and Widdicomb.
In addition to having more showroom space for the unique designs, Retrospektiv’s new location will also be showcasing mid-century modern art for the first time.
“There’s a lot of cool Scandinavian and Danish artwork out there that lends itself to being used in contemporary and modern loft spaces,” MacFarlane says.
In the four and a half years that Retrospektiv has been open, MacFarlane says there’s nothing he doesn’t like about running the business. And his favorite part is “finding that gem that’s not very available; the cool, unique find that we can offer to somebody.”
Alaena Hostetter is a Dallas-based journalist who writes about all of her favorite things: art, fashion, culture, music, entertainment and food.