Furniture, with local brewery’s flavor
Oozlefinch collection includes bar tables, storage bars, cabinets
When Aletha Norris’s boss empowered her to find unique furniture to bring to Haynes Furniture, she knew exactly what to pitch.
The 31-year-old buyer for Haynes kept envisioning a line of furniture that would complement the region’s craft beer movement, particularly as she kept hanging out at Oozlefinch Craft Brewery at Fort Monroe with her friend and Oozlefinch owner Russ Tinsley.
That relationship and idea led to Virginia Beach-based Haynes Furniture selling the Oozlefinch-branded furniture collection styled after the brewery’s aesthetic.
“I thought it was a cool idea. It’s kind of unexpected,” Norris said. “I don’t think we’ve ever done anything like this.”
The collection is on display as part of Haynes’ Furniture Hall showroom within the Virginia Beach store and is on the floor at the Newport News store.
The rustic-industrial collection features wood bar tables, storage bars and cabinets with metal accents and complementary stools. The bar-height tables feature metal-pipe footrests. Other pieces include a table with a barrel-shaped pedestal, a bar with a built-in cooler and a tufted bar-height bench. Most of the products come with the option for a “blonde” or “stout” distressed finish.
The 120-year-old, familyowned Haynes launched its Furniture Hall as an exhibitstyle area of the Virginia Beach store earlier this year. It’s designed to display artisan, local and innovative furniture and home furnishings on a rotating basis every 90 to 120 days.
That emphasis on interesting finds empowered Norris to buy pieces from a vendor for an on-trend furniture collection that would enable customers to bring the brewery vibe home. While Haynes sells some private-label brands, this marks the first time Haynes teamed up with a local partner for branding, President E.J. Strelitz said.
“It’s fun,” Strelitz said. “We’ve got to keep our industry exciting.”
Norris, who lives in Newport News, got Tinsley’s feedback for the collection. To open, Oozlefinch owners had handcrafted the brewery’s furnishings, including installing taps in ornate wood salvaged from the historic Boxwood Inn in Newport News.
Trust in Norris is what ultimately led to the collaboration, Tinsley said, adding he wouldn’t have sought out such a project himself.
“For us, it was another way to support a local business,” Tinsley said. “At the same time, it’s a great way to get out our brand and our name.”
The Nov. 10 launch and Oozlefinch beer tasting at the Virginia Beach store ended up introducing the brewery to folks in South Hampton Roads who hadn’t known about it, Tinsley said.
Conversely, a Haynes billboard with the name Oozlefinch got mom Ashley Beck of Norfolk to stop by the Virginia Beach store with her kids. Beck’s family enjoys hanging out at local breweries, including Oozlefinch. They also happen to love furniture shopping and discussed their favorite pieces.
“We love it. This is our style,” Beck said.
The Oozlefinch display at Haynes features a “tasting menu” that lists furniture items named after either Oozlefinch brews or references to Fort Monroe. Norris said she wanted to create the feeling of being at Oozlefinch within the store.
Haynes’ Furniture Hall evokes a market feel and is a throwback to the former 1869built Furniture Hall building at the corner of Granby and Main streets in downtown Norfolk, Strelitz said. That building, bought by the Strelitz family, housed the flagship Haynes Furniture store from the 1950s until the 1970s. Also known as the Ikon building, the structure was demolished in 2007. The hall features 10-12 manufacturers or designers, a list that currently includes Black Dog Salvage in Roanoke, Mexicannative brand Taracea and Giuseppe & Giuseppe by Nicoletti & Calia from Italy.
Furniture Hall caters to today’s more discerning and educated consumers who may watch HGTV or design shows and want furniture that can’t be found elsewhere, Norris said. While the Oozlefinch furniture pairs easily with entertainment spaces, she envisions the counter-height furniture could also serve as kitchen islands.
Furniture Hall is slated to come to the Newport News store on Jefferson Avenue early next year, Strelitz said. The Denbigh store is undergoing about a couple million dollars worth of renovations, he said. Tara Bozick, 757-247-4741, tboz[email protected]lypress.com, @TidewaterBiz. Sign up for a free weekday business news email at TidewaterBiz.com.
Aletha Norris and Russ Tinsley sit at the Oozlefinch furniture line in the Haynes store in Virginia Beach on Nov. 12. Most of the products come with the option for a “blonde” or “stout” distressed finish.