A little of everything

Michelle and Martin Van Gundy

Photo by Rachel Bush

After being in the trucking business for nearly two decades, Michelle and Martin Van Gundy were ready to get off the road and into a more settled lifestyle, so they opened Needful Things—an antique store in Paradise (8247 Skyway)—in the summer of 2018. After being open for just a few months, the Camp Fire hit, forcing the couple to take stock of their business. Last month marked a year since they expanded the operation by opening a spot in Durham. It was there they decided to grow their inventory, buying an 8,000-square-foot space where they now sell new furniture and kitchen appliances, as well as antiques and miscellaneous goods. Visit the Durham location at 9371 Midway. It’s open daily, from 9 a.m.-6 p.m.

What made you interested in switching careers?

Martin: We wanted to retire from the road, and I had a life’s collection of antiques, so we put that towards a new business.

Did you lose your business and home in the fire?

Michelle: No, the business didn’t burn. We had some stuff in mini storages that we lost, but the main loss was the people; they’ve scattered. Paradise was known for its antiques, and we were starting to gain a good reputation, but all of that was gone after the fire. We weren’t actually displaced at our home, but we lost a property, and that breaks my heart, because that’s where I raised my kids.

Martin: Our Paradise shop is still open, and my brother Michael runs that.

Where do you get your merchandise?

Michelle: We sell a lot of items that have been returned from department stores. We also get things from estate sales; we work with Judy Bristow from Pro. Sales by Judy. Our stock is always changing. Our regular customers like seeing that every time they come in there’s something different.

Do you have a favorite type of product you sell?

Michelle: I love the antiques, but the money is in the newer merchandise. I also love our collection of books. We have many more that aren’t out yet, and we’re going to add them to our collection and bring them out periodically. I have good deals on the books because I think they’re important.

Was there a learning curve in starting a new profession/opening a business?

Michelle: Oh, yeah. There’s been a lot of experimenting on what we buy and we’re learning what people want.

Do you have any customers who know you from your Paradise shop?

Michelle: We do. When we first started doing this, we were meeting people from Paradise who were restarting, and we outfitted a few of them with furniture for their new homes. We try to help out when we can, especially if it was someone who rented in Paradise, because their stuff wasn’t covered by insurance. I love Paradise.