When Rhianna Romero and her husband Colton Toth relocated to Sarasota from Tampa in 2021, Romero was puzzled about how to take advantage of their rental home’s shed workshop. Fascinated by vintage furniture and creative hands-on activities, Romero decided to combine her passions and use the space to refinish a midcentury modern dresser that she found on Facebook Marketplace. A week after listing the piece on Etsy, the dresser sold, and the pair realized that they had stumbled upon a profitable side hustle.
“I’ve always been thrifty and enjoy repurposing things,” says Romero, “and when we sold the dresser, Colton recognized a business opportunity.”
They launched their shop, Retro Revival SRQ, on Etsy in 2021 and began collecting and refinishing a variety of pieces. Less than two years later, on Dec. 17, the enterprising couple celebrated the grand opening of a 1,600-square-foot brick-and-mortar location.
Together, Toth and Romero learned how to repair and refinish vintage pieces, a process that has brought them even closer. “We could not do this business if we didn’t have each other, because we both bring our own sets of skills and passions together to make this successful,” says Romero. “We are grateful that we get to work alongside each other every day.”
When they opened the Etsy shop, Toth, now 26, worked as an accountant, and Romero, now 27, was an executive assistant. Eleven months into the project, Toth left his job to pursue the venture full-time. Romero kept her job but continues to pour her free time into the business, which carries many dressers, bedroom sets and chairs.
Most of the pieces on offer are midcentury modern, post-modern or Danish modern, and were produced during the 1950s to 1980s. Romero and Toth are always on the hunt for new pieces, but mainly source them in Florida. Beyond having an inherently sharp eye for finding the pieces, though, there was a learning curve.
“When Rhianna first refinished the dresser, she painted it sage green, which we learned is a big no-no when it comes to midcentury furniture because the goal is to keep the piece as close to its original state as possible,” says Toth. The more pieces they refinish, the more the couple discovers how to ensure the furniture stays period-correct and is refinished to the highest standards.
“Six months ago, we would’ve just colored in a chip on a piece, but now we take the time to level and paint it, resulting in a higher quality end-product,” Toth says. The pair mostly spruces up the tops of pieces and fixes chips, striving to improve the finish of every piece. While pricing depends on the piece itself, most range from $500 to $3,000.
“Older furniture has more charm and character and is built better than what you get today,” says Romero, an element that has contributed to midcentury furniture’s rise in popularity in recent years. Toth also adds that supply chain issues have made vintage furniture more appealing to consumers who can purchase it right away and bring it home the same day.
Given Sarasota’s history as a pioneering city in the midcentury modern movement, it’s no surprise that the couple’s business is booming.
“Sarasota is a great area for us because of the history of midcentury homes and collectors in this area,” says Toth. In the future, the couple sees themselves continuing to curate an upscale store and giving Sarasotans the opportunity to shop for impressive vintage midcentury furniture locally.