First-time visitors to Decor Direct Wholesale Warehouse often are overheard saying things such as "mind-boggling" and "overwhelming" as they try to take in the company's sprawling showroom.
Such is the variety, size and scope of a showroom packed with antiques, furniture, collectibles, jewelry, salvage, old equipment, tools and more.
As massive as the showroom at 2333 Whitfield Park Loop might be, customers often come for something very different: one-of-a-kind furniture.
Decor Direct repurposes wood from old trees, barns and elsewhere into one-of-a-kind works of art that are used as table tops, bars and other unique furniture.
Decor Direct is a leader in the manufacture of sustainable furniture, says manager Celeste Gruenstein, who turned from a career in law to something that allowed her to tap into her creative and entrepreneurial side.
"We go in and rescue the wood, bring it here and make exotic furniture," Gruenstein said. "All of our products are sustainable."
The company was started in Sarasota in 1998, on 17th Street, where Cat Depot is now located.
A decade ago, the company moved into its current location in southern Manatee County.
In its early days, Decor Direct did much of its business on Siesta Key and Longboat Key, but today, the lion's share of its business is north of University Parkway in high-growth places such as Bradenton, Lakewood Ranch, and Parrish.
The company also has an appreciative clientele in St. Petersburg and Tampa.
"We sell a lot of interesting products to interesting people," Gruenstein said. "We differentiate ourselves from the online merchandisers and the big-box stores. We are very, very blessed.
"We do a lot of kitchens and a lot of countertops," she said of the Decor Direct's slab furniture. "One customer in The Concession (a gated community in East Manatee) recently bought three dining tables."
Decor Direct delivers throughout Bradenton, Sarasota, Tampa, St. Petersburg and all of Florida. The company also ships worldwide by container load or by small shipment.
"We sell to the wholesale trade, interior designers, builders, architects, retailers and restaurants," the company says in its literature. "We also welcome the general public to explore and purchase right out of our artisan warehouse. It's a treasure hunt where you can purchase fine home furnishings that are unique pieces of art."
Wilma Padin is a local artist who shows her artwork at Decor Direct.
"I am not a big name, but Celeste cares enough about the self-taught, local artisan community to allow me to show my work. That means a lot. When I come over here and see all the items in the showroom, it's just amazing," Padin said. "They have a lot."
Decor Direct got a bit of national exposure with its slab furniture in Animal Planet's premiere episode of “Insane Pools: Off the Deep End.”
Decor Direct is open from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. The business is open to truckload dealers Monday through Wednesday by appointment only.
For more information, call 941-751-4180 or visit decordirect.net.