Where antiques are brought back to life
‘Jug’ on avenue since ‘82
Darlene Roina describes the modern world as a “throwaway society.” She and her husband Joe haven't mounted a crusade to change that, but for the past 20 years
they have been working full-time - not to mention several part-time years before that - to save some of the best things made in the past.
Operated in a partially converted 99-year-old house at 1420 W. Colorado Ave., the Roinas' business, Jug & Basin, restores and sells antique furniture. “Restores” might not be a strong enough word. Joe, who is responsible for that side of the business, typically shops for larger, higher-end samples of fine wood craftsmanship that have fallen into disrepair (and sometimes are about to be scrapped). He then goes to work in the garage behind the house. It's not uncommon for him to strip a piece down to the ground before reassembling it (such as a recent Swiss Chalet China buffet from the 1880s that was “terrible” when he got it). En route, he repairs the broken parts and builds in missing sections, matching the type of wood and following the necessary historical criteria. Many hours of toil later, the Jug & Basin sales floor has another antique that looks as good as new.
“It takes a lot of patience,” Joe noted.
“It's a labor of love,” added Darlene.
One thing it's not is lucrative. By working out of their house on the avenue - just the two of them now, but they also raised two sons there - and keeping on top of the antique business, they manage to make ends meet, but not a whole lot more, the Roinas said.
In fact, they are becoming a lost breed. Antique furniture-restoring businesses are disappearing. The reason, according to the Roinas, stems primarily from the labor- intensiveness and increasing cost of wood and chemicals. “It's very expensive and hard work,” Joe pointed out. Even with just the two of them working out of their house, the Roinas have to be choosy. “The lower-end items just aren't cost-effective to repair anymore” he said. “It's a shame because a lot of them are just going to the wayside now.”
The types of customers for the Roinas have changed over the years. One of the reasons they chose the avenue originally, going back to 1982, was its visibility to passing tourists. “That was our niche,” Joe said. “Now [due largely to transportation cost increases], it's dropped to zero.”
But there is still a demand for what the Jug & Basin has to offer. Word of mouth reputation, built up over time, brings people to their door from near and far. Buyers have included such luminaries as George Lucas' Skywalker Ranch in California and former NBA basketball player Danny Schayes.
On an everyday basis, what the Roinas have found is that historically Colorado Springs homes and businesses had fewer of the more elegant pieces than Denver. So what the couple does is to buy in Denver and restore/sell down here - although they also participate in a weekly Denver co-op along what's known as “Antique Row.”
Joe and Darlene are both ex-Air Force. That was how they met, back in California in 1971 before being transferred to Colorado Springs. They were married a year later. Their first child had certain developmental disabilities. Needing a second income, they came up with the idea of repairing old valuables and reselling them to make money. Initially, this was old cars, such as Bentleys and Thunderbirds, during their military tour of duty in England in the mid-'70s.
Later, they expanded to other items, using the local flea market when they were stateside. Returning from their second tour in England, they brought with them a quantity of jugs and basins. So that was how the store name came about (even though, as Darlene noted, they had no way of replenishing that inventory once they'd sold them all).
Their first shop was in Cimarron Hills in 1981. They moved to the present address a year later, for the avenue exposure as well as to be closer to Old Colorado City's Goodwill Industries, where their older son still works. The business became full-time when Joe retired from the Air Force in '88.
In the early days, Darlene helped Joe with the stripping, but now focuses entirely on managing the salesroom floor.
For his part, Joe enjoys the restoration work. “I love bringing something back that was going to be destroyed,” he said. In an exception to his larger-item rule, he recently worked on a youth chair from the early 1800s. “You can see where children dragged their feet on the footrest,” he marveled.
Westside Pioneer article