My Biz: Cedar Rapids shop owner turns modern design hobby into full-time gig

Owner says interest in mid-century modern décor increases

Published: December 5 2013 | 6:00 am - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 12:29 am in
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David Owens is mad for modern design, and Mid-Century Modern furniture specifically.

Owens was collecting pieces as a hobby — going to estate sales and thrift shops — for many years before deciding he could turn his hobby and eye for design into a full-time gig.

“I was buying this stuff before I knew what I was buying,” Owens said of the furniture pieces dating from the 1950s to the 1970s.

His starter home was built in 1956 and after moving in Owens realized it didn’t need fixing up so much as it needed the right pieces to furnish it.

“That got me interested and the next thing you know I had two or three too many couches,” Owens said. “That’s what prompted me to go into resale.”

Owens opened his shop in June 2011 as 1st Class Finds. The business was recently renamed Mad Modern to more obviously explain what customers will find inside.

“I never dreamed I’d do this for a business,” he said.

Owens worked in construction for a number of years before turning his passion into profit.

“I did know there was a need for it here though,” he said.

Owens said Cedar Rapidians don’t realize how lucky we are.

“Some of these pieces are not just common run of the mill pieces,” Owens said. “This is stuff people in Los Angeles drool over. We are in a nice geographic location where we can actually obtain them.”

Business really has picked up in the last two years, Owens said, as interest in mid-century modern décor increases.

“Now, I get calls that mom is downsizing and I need to come and take a look at her time capsule,” Owens said. “More and more this stuff is starting to find me.”

“People have heard there is a place with retro stuff in town. When they come in for the first time — whether they wandered in or someone told them about it — they are really excited to be here.”

As Mad Modern’s sole employee, Owens is excited to come to work every day and keeps busy with a variety of tasks. He spends his mornings making deliveries and house calls on potential pieces to sell in the shop before opening up and helping customers.

Owens said relies on his fiancé to handle all the behind-the-scenes bookkeeping work.

“She keeps me organized,” he said.

Owens feels his location at 227 14th Ave. SE in the NewBo District also is a valuable business asset.

After completing interior building renovations earlier this year, Owens hopes his efforts to restore the exterior of the building will help spur further neighborhood growth.

He also hopes Mad Modern continues to grow.

“I’d love to expand to hire more employees to meet the demands for deliveries and other services,” Owens said. “I do this because I am passionate about it.

“I like being my own boss. It’s rewarding, and I don’t really consider it work anymore.”

At a glance

  • Business: Mad Modern
  • Owner: David Owens
  • Address: 227 14th Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids
  • Phone: (319) 533-8162
  • Facebook:

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Business: Mad Modern

FYI body with bullets_44: l Owner: David Owens

FYI body with bullets_44: l Address: 227 14th Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids

FYI body with bullets_44: l Phone: (319) 533-8162

FYI body with bullets_44: l Facebook:

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