Those who have driven through the intersection of 5th and Avenue E in Alpine recently – and most must have by now – have to have been pleasantly surprised at what they saw.

I can see it all day long. It’s kitty-corner across the street from where I toil at my computer.

Brad Obbink has acquired the old Smith Furniture building that sat idle for years. Now, he has dressed it up with a fresh coat of two-tone paint with black trim and it looks really sharp. It already displays some of his wares – teak furniture.

He launched his new brand early last year in the small Alabama town of Guntersville after being introduced to teak furniture.

Now he is bringing it home as Alpine Teak LLC and plans a soft opening on Monday.

Gwen Bowling is the store manager and Amanda Mitchell is vice president for marketing. Mitchell lives in Union Grove, Alabama, near Huntsville. She said Obbink is trying to get her to move to Alpine and she is seriously considering it.

Inside are his wares, furniture shaped from teak that comes from Bali and Java.

Much of the wood comes from a 200-year-old teak plantation and, because it is so dense, the furniture takes the shape of the tree stumps or whatever from which it was made.

After cutting down teak trees, people were unable to burn the stumps so they plucked them out of the ground and fashioned them into tables, chairs and other furniture items. Teak also is commonly used for making boats.

Mitchell said that, while teak is very dense, it also can be carved easily and she showed me pictures of a carved horse head and an eagle head that appeared very lifelike.

Obbink said his furniture line also will include plush seating and other items.

He told me in November the teak furniture is “something like you’ve never seen before” and he’s right about that. Some people like it and some don’t.

Mitchell said the Alpine store will be the first of three in the U.S.

“I decided to take a chance on this market,” Obbink said. “A lot of sales will be on e-commerce and we can ship anywhere. But this is where I live.” 

Obbink said that, besides the furniture, he plans to put in a coffee and juice shop he will call My Place behind the furniture store. That will come later.

“You can invite your friends over to My Place and it really will be your place,” he said. “It will be the go-to place in town.”

Upstairs, he will offer executive office suites and mentioned Solairedirect as a potential client. Solaire plans one of three solar generating plants in the county.

The upstairs improvements, he said, are in Phase III.

“This is the highest-traffic corner in the county,” he said. “It will be one of the hottest spots in town.”

The paint job was completed two weeks ago but Obbink said he plans to add some more trim, including black highlights and the Texas star.

Last weekend, crews were diamond polishing the concrete floor.

The business community in Alpine clearly is growing.

We have a way to go but, hey, this is not a bad start. Not bad at all.

Jim Street covers Alpine and Brewster County for the Avalanche. He can be reached at 432-837-3334, or 118 N. 5th St.

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