Earlier this year, the abandoned buildings next to the railroad tracks on Market Street in Athens underwent a renovation process with a result that could nearly be described as miraculous. Joel Hamm, who spent 25 years as part of the family business that is Champion Chevrolet, claimed one of those shops as his own, decided to do something that had never been done, and that was to open a furniture store with an entirely unique product line. Its name is unusual, too, and that is Riff Raff Home Décor.
Now, this is not your garden variety, assembly line produced furniture store; these pieces are made of solid mahogany, teak and pine, (no press board), and the only veneer is on the underside of some of the drawers. They are manufactured by Bramble, which has been around for about 20 years, and are imported from Indonesia. The selection is from traditional to shabby chic, the pieces are hand painted or stained, hand-distressed to order, and could be seen as a prominent feature in any upscale decorating magazine. The drawers glide out smoothly, the doors meet each other and don’t have to be pried open, the quality is unmistakable, (both in appearance and function,) and the price is moderate. To me, the proof of whether or not a shop’s product is loved by the proprietor is whether it is used in the home. Joel told me that if he could, he would have his whole house furnished “au Bramble.” He has included a couple of pictures from his own home of how perfect “Bramble” looks at his place.
When Joel decided he was going to open another retail shop, (having been the successful co-owner of the kids’ shop Grasshopper on the Square with his wife, Sharma,) he wasn’t sure what he was going to do. He wanted the product to look great in the old, exposed brick wall and tin roof ceilinged shop space, wanted something no one else was doing, and went hunting in Tupelo, MS, at the huge market there. He went through building after building, and just before closing, he found “it.” Joel and Bramble were a match made in heaven, and his enthusiasm for what he is doing is contagious. You can tell he loves what he is learning, what he is doing, and the customers can tell he is a happy business owner because of the level of customer care that he offers.
I have watched him personally offer to bring a couple of pieces to the client’s home so that they can see how they look in their intended space. He is quick to let customers know that they have 50 paint colors to choose from, and 10 different stains. They can have something that has a pristine surface, slightly distressed, or what is known as “extremely distressed.” They can be painted only, stained only, or a combination of the two. The furniture boasts dove tail joints, and is definitely heirloom quality. “This is something you can hand down to your kids,” Joel said, and I agree. He also told me that the Bramble Corporation plants a tree for every piece of furniture they produce. In addition, their workers in Indonesia have insurance, safe work environments, and could never be called “sweatshops.”
If you find a piece that you like in the catalogue that is not in the store, Joel will go to Atlanta to pick it up for you, and often it will be in your home in just a few days. I asked him about how he came up with the name “Riff Raff” for the store. He grinned and said, “I’ve played guitar all my life, and I named it after the AC/DC song from the ‘70s. It makes people curious.” If you are “curious” (and then some) about a beautiful new line of furniture for which Riff Raff is the exclusive distributor in our area, you need to come see it. And, if you want to shop at a family run business that is committed to exceeding the expectations of their clients, then Joel and his niece Kennedy are waiting for you!
Riff Raff Home Decor
107 E. Market St Athens, AL 35611
Hours: Mon-Sat 10-4
Facebook: Riff Raff Home Décor
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner