Old Temple Chicago opens
Affordable furniture from far off lands
08/11/2012 12:23 PM
Three years ago, David Cabanas had a dream of owning a furniture store. He even had the name and logo design, scribbled at the dinner table while he and his wife Aiste plotted their future.
Now that dream is a reality. Last week, they opened Old Temple Chicago at 843 W. Van Buren.
Old Temple is conceived as a source for one-of-a-kind pieces, both furniture and accessories. Walking through the space, you’ll find many unique items, often 100 years old. They also have an exotic feel. Think World Market, but much higher quality.
“We import from five regions—Thailand, Indonesia, Africa, India, and China,” Cabanas said. “When I was working for other stores, I developed relationships and friendships with suppliers in those countries, so now I have a source to acquire pieces.”
The inventory includes many large, distinctive pieces ideal for the open loft spaces common in West Loop condos and apartments. Most originate in China, which is tougher to ship from because of the paperwork. Keep in mind these are high quality antiques, not Ikea-grade mass-produced pressed wood. Most pieces include verification of origin.
The most surprising part of Old Temple: the affordable prices. A 50-by-70 inch elm and iron door from Shanghai dating from the 18th century is priced at $1,295. Another interesting piece is a writing desk and chair (from the 1850-1900 era) that folds up into a small cabinet size, for $875. As an introductory offer, Old Temple is taking an additional 35% off all large pieces.
Cabanas said his items are priced considerably lower than his competition. That strategy is designed to keep inventory moving out (I saw several pieces with a SOLD sticker) so he can continue to bring in fresh pieces. He gave me a tour of the building, showing a space he’ll dedicate to contemporary furniture. It’s been a long journey from concept to reality, he explained. Then he paused and smiled.
“It just shows that sometimes dreams can come true,” he said.