Opening a retail business can be a daunting experience under normal circumstances. Imagine adding a pandemic into the mix. Jorge Martinez, a Lake County woodworker and furniture maker, decided to take a leap of faith after he noticed an empty storefront on Sonoma Highway.
Martinez had previously sold his rustic furniture pieces in a Napa Valley consignment store. After fires and pandemic shutdowns, the store had closed permanently and he had moved his furniture into storage. As he kept passing by the empty storefront on his way to a construction job, he thought to himself, “I think God is trying to show me something.” He decided to give it a try, signed the lease, fixed up the storefront and, in February, opened Wine Country Decor.
In between customer visits, Martinez can now be found on the patio outside his store where he cuts wood with the help of an assistant and works on new furniture pieces, which can be customized using different materials — a wood vanity in the store, for example, is topped with a stunning double sink made out of copper. Martinez uses mostly recycled wood for his furniture (98 percent of the wood is recycled) and slabs of wide and wavy-grained wood are finished with wax instead of shellac for outdoor use.
Running a new retail store while also creating its inventory is hard work, but Martinez doesn’t complain. “My life is working hard,” he said. “This is my passion.”
Martinez grew up in Mexico in a family of artists. His mother was a painter, his father made furniture and when Martinez was around 7, he began learning painting, pottery and woodcraft together with his 11 siblings. He’s been wanting to bring the furniture designs of Mexico to the United States for some time. In addition to his own furniture pieces, he now imports oversized terra cotta pots that he embellishes with paint, metal-framed mirrors which he paints to create a patinated look, as well as paintings, sculptures and other decor.
Customers are starting to take notice of Martinez’ meticulously crafted furniture and unique decor offerings and he’s enjoying seeing the momentum build.
“It makes me so happy,” he said of opening the store. “(It’s) opening my eyes. It makes me feel stable, like a rock.”
Wine Country Decor, 6001 Sonoma Highway, Santa Rosa, 707-843-7619, 707-495-8487, winecountry-decor.com