The last 18 months brought nothing but hardship for most small businesses. But for Jimni in downtown Culpeper, it led to a chance encounter that has resulted in renewal.
John Beck, who recently moved from Tallahassee, Florida, to Culpeper to be closer to his granddaughter in Alexandria, had visited the store when he saw a golden opportunity. “I fell in love with this store,” said Beck, a woodturner who makes wooden bowls.
Owner Jim Schorr, who creates one-of-a-kind, custom furniture, used his Jimni store to sell his products, but it was mostly an artisan showroom for others. “He would have outside artists,” Beck said. “We do support our local artisans. They do bring their goods in here; we take a commission and we sell it.”
However, Beck saw that Jimni could be so much more. That’s when he pitched the idea to Schorr to let him work for free for a couple of months, giving Schorr more time to develop his wares.
“I don’t mind changes. I grow every time I make a change in my life,” Beck said. “I said, ‘Jim, what do you need?’ He said, ‘I wish I had more time to develop and create the furniture I do best — live-edge furniture.’
“I saw a diamond in the rough,” Beck said. “I’m getting something out of this. I’m getting a commission out of this; I’m not an all-saint guy. I just love it. It’s a beautiful story on how it all came together.
Beck made a win-win offer. “I just moved to Culpeper, I’m retired, I’m new here and I don’t know anybody and that’s what I have, nothing but time,” he told Schorr.
This all happened while other people with time — as well as pent-up frustration and money — decided that they were ready to spruce up their surroundings, whether at home or the office.
“The pent-up people are out and they’re spending money, and the No. 1 home renovation is the office,” Beck said. “We have a lot of people come in and say, ‘I need a desk. My boss said go out and buy a desk.’ They’re tired of the kitchen Zooming and homes are being built up with offices.
Schorr has a couple of artisans that help him build “living-edge furniture,” where one side cannot be touched by mankind. “[They] can take the bark off, and that’s it,” Beck said.
That’s what Beck, a retired marketing director for SC Johnson, said Jimni needed to be showcasing. “We brought in a few pieces of furniture and we more than tripled our sales within two or three months.”
The wood used to create Schorr’s pieces comes from local sawmills. “This is expensive furniture, but the process that it goes through [can be years],” Beck said, adding: “You have to understand that the quality of the wood and the simplicity of the wood speaks for itself.”
“We try to do live-edge furniture and we’ve added this section into the store and hope to bring more products into the store. Anything that anyone needs to be made or have something special done, we will do it for you,” Schorr said.
At a Chamber of Commerce ribbon-cutting July 16 at the store, Beck said Jimni is a celebration of friendship and community. “This ribbon-cutting is not for Jimni. This is to introduce our furniture, but it’s really for downtown Culpeper. Let’s celebrate COVID hopefully coming to an end,” Beck said. “I’ve got people across the street asking if there’s anything we can do for you. That’s the community we live in, which I love and adore. This is a ribbon-cutting for all of us.”
As for the correct pronunciation of the store, Beck shared this story. “[Schorr’s wife, Alice] used to say, ‘Jim and I started the store,’ ‘Jim and I opened the store,’ and that is how Jimni got its name.”
Editor's Note: A previous version misspelled the name Jimni.