SEBRING — Mandy Baker recalls a few years ago when people were looking for vintage furniture in Sebring they came to a small, cramped warehouse on U.S. 27, where she was one of the vendors.
Baker said the place didn’t have any air conditioning or running water. She added it was cold during the winter and “super’’ hot in the summer. It wasn’t a pleasant experience for shoppers — especially for women, according to Baker.
“I felt terrible for the women that came and shopped,” she said. “They would be trying to talk to me about custom pieces and the sweat was just dripping. I would sweat,” she said. “I would sit there during the day and not be doing anything, and I looked like I had lactated all day. I was embarrassed to get up and talk to people ...”
Both the name of the store and the location have changed since then. It is called The Painted Hummingbird and is in downtown Sebring at 100 Circle Park Drive. The store opened in December. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.
The store’s previous name was Not Too Shabby when it opened in the warehouse. It had two previous owners before Baker bought it. She said the store “is basically the same,” but noted “our tastes have changed.” One owner liked shabby and rustic and the other “all rustic,” Baker said.
“I love all the pretty, girly stuff,” Baker said. “When I took over the store and redid it all the ladies were starting to come back and say ‘it looks so pretty. This is what it was when it first started...’”
Baker said the color of a piece is important. She added she has heard people in the store say, “I love that piece but it won’t go with the rest of my furniture.”
“I love white,” she said. “But I know, after listening to people walk around the store, and they are whispering and they say ‘I love that piece, but I don’t like the color or it just wouldn’t fit.’ So then we offer that we can repaint it.”
She said that she does custom painting.
Baker, who is from England, said she painted furniture while living there. She noted that when she got bored with her coffee table and china cabinet she would paint them.
“My tables and chairs probably got about six coats of paint,” she said. “So I did this in England before it became a big thing.”
Baker said she talks to a lot to people and some send her photos of what they are looking for.
“I just know what I like, what I would like to see in a store,” she said. “So when I’m looking for furniture and I’m thinking ... ‘I’ve got to have it for the store.’ That’s what sells.”
Baker said she drives all over the state to find things. She drove to Jacksonville to pick up a desk and said the day-long trip was worth it because the piece sold shortly after she posted a photo of it online.
“My gratification is people message me and they say ‘you have some amazing pieces’ and that’s what people talk about and that’s why they come to me,” she said. “I like nice stuff that I know no one else has here.”
Baker is planning to hold a weekly class for a small group of people this month. She said it will start by having participants bring a chair that they will paint and distress. They will also be shown how to do a transfer of print and learn about applique design. There will be cheese, wine and crackers. Baker wants it to be fun or, as she says, “have a giggle with the girls.”
Her telephone number is 863-991-2699.