Florida Keys Business
Sunday, January 20, 2013
Store specializes in teak furniture

ISLAMORADA -- When Jason Wade moved to Islamorada from Kansas last summer, he figured it would be a fun place to live while running his online retail businesses that specialize in smartphone arm bands and rubber watch bands.

But when Wade and wife Diana found themselves frustrated with the local furniture selection as they worked on decorating their Upper Matecumbe Key home, the entrepreneur in him took over.

The result is Isla Imports, which Wade, 38, opened last week in the Mile Marker 82.7 plaza that used to house Hooked on Books and Orion Bank.

"We wanted a beach feel, but we didn't want a cheesy beach feel," he said at his small retail space one afternoon last week. "... We wanted a cool beach feel."

In his home, and subsequently at Isla Imports, Wade ultimately decided upon teak wood furniture from Indonesia and India, though he points out with a wry smile that his home decor isn't quite as nice as the pieces he carries at the store.

With just 140 square feet in his show room, Wade had to be choosy about his merchandise. What he decided upon is a selection of upscale yet casual teak furniture that is built to last.

In some cases, the items already have lasted a while. For example, an Indonesian bench that doubles as a table, which Wade is offering for $600, is made from a reclaimed railroad tie. He's also selling an 8-foot-long bench that was reclaimed from an Indonesian mosque. An old Indian doorframe, refashioned as a teak wood TV stand, is priced at $800.

Other furniture items include an Indonesian chair made from banana leaf and a black teak dining table, priced at $1,000. Accompanying chairs for the table are $200 apiece. Bookshelves converted from dugout canoes start at $65.

Locals get 20 percent off everything at Isla Imports, including smaller items, such as antique kerosene lamps, which retail for $125 without the discount, and decorative teak wood elephants.

Wade said he hopes Isla Imports will appeal to a wide clientele, while also sparing couples the fate of he and Diana, who ended up venturing to the mainland to purchase their household furniture.

"I want local customers who want to be surrounded by stuff they love," he said. "Then there's non-locals who have a home here and want to find to find great pieces that are representative of the area. And I'd love to help hotels redo their lobbies or find signature pieces for their rooms."

Isla Imports is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday or by appointment. Call 321-946-5569 for more information.

rsilk@keysnews.com

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