Orr-Reed Offers DIY Crafting Kits for COVID-19 Boredom Cure

Hannah Hargrove isn’t just trying to keep her business alive during COVID-19 shutdowns, she’s trying to keep her family legacy – and Dallas institution – up and running.

Orr-Reed Architectural Company has long been the go-to place for preservationists and people who have bought that older home and want to replace broken fixtures, doors, or repair flooring, for example.

“Orr-Reed isn’t just a business to us – it’s our passion,” she said. “We get to save history and help people make their dreams come true.

“My parents bought the place in 1993, and I took over in 2013 with help from my mom after my father was murdered.”

But the store’s legacy extends much further than that – originally called Orr-Reed Wrecking, it was founded in 1946, and has remained the staple for many designers, homeowners, and old house rehabbers ever since.

But all of that picking out takes an in-store visit – and what do you do when that isn’t safe? For Hargrove, the answer was in her inventory.

She began looking at the various doorknobs, casement windows, wood, and more in her shop, and realized that she could capitalize on the boredom setting in while people were sheltering in place.

Her craft kits were born.

“It’s not like people are buying hardwood floor in the time of pandemics,” she said. “COVID has forced us to get very creative and change our entire business model in under a month.

“These craft kits are the only thing keeping us in business right now,” she added. “It wouldn’t be possible without the hard work and dedication of my amazing employees – it’s not just a job to them, either.

“They feel like it’s their home just like I do.”

Her first kit was a custom hook rack that uses doorknobs attached to wood. Since each utilized salvaged materials, each is unique, too. Greenhouses made from casement windows, birdhouses, planter boxes, and small candle and plant stands made from salvaged wood followed.

Each kit is made to order, and made for varying skillsets. Don’t have a drill? They can pre-drill the holes for you. Have everything? You can do it entirely yourself.

Hargrove said she’s determined to keep the business afloat, but worries – like many businesses are right now – about making her overhead.

“The kits are the only things keeping us afloat right now,” she said. “We are doing so much better than other small businesses, but with a typical monthly overhead of close to $28,000, we need to sell more kits.”

“In the last seven years I’ve lost my father, my son got sick, I nearly lost my sister and brother-in-law, and less then a month ago I lost my grandfather to COVID-19,” Hargrove said. “I just can’t lose Orr-Reed on top of it – I think it would be the thing that broke me.”

To see the current kits, and new ones, check out Orr-Reed’s Facebook page.

Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson, deputy editor at People Newspapers, cut her teeth on community journalism, starting in Arkansas. Recently, she's taken home a few awards for her writing, including first place for her tornado coverage from the National Newspapers Association's 2020 Better Newspaper Contest, a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She doesn't like lima beans, black licorice or the word synergy. You can reach her at [email protected].

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