“I was just tired of seeing empty buildings,” says Joe Grammatico. The veteran local builder opened Westside Furniture Consignment Emporium last month in his Scio Town Center on Zeeb. After Kitchen Port closed last year, “we racked our brains to think of something to put in here,” Grammatico says. “I wanted a green business. I thought of putting in a solar store or brokering geo-thermal systems–being builders, we could install them. But I don’t know, that stuff’s awful expensive, and I don’t know if it would sell right now.”

Grammatico is a hearty, outdoorsy guy with a yellow Lab named Bella who trots around the store after him. Disarmingly direct, he admits he’d rather be building homes, but “how can a builder compete with the foreclosures? I was going crazy. My mind is going a hundred miles an hour, and I had nothing to do.” So Westside Furniture is Plan B, and while he didn’t know anything about the furniture business or the secondhand business, he says it’s not that much of a stretch for a builder: “I’ve decorated a million different models. I’m good with colors. I’ve got all the tools. I’ve even thought of building some furniture if things get slow.”

In addition to selling furniture on consignment (Westside takes a 40 percent commission), he’s been “cherry-picking Craigslist. I’ll buy a table for $40 and put it back up for $65 or $70, depending on how much work I have to do to it.” His goal is “to keep it kind of high end but more modern than Treasure Mart.” He’s also selling some new arts and crafts, such as handmade dolls by Sandy Crews. Now that he’s populated the main showroom, he’s turning his attention to the backroom. “This will be the man cave,” he grins. “Tools, hunting, fishing gear, sports equipment.”

Westside Furniture Consignment Emporium, 283 S. Zeeb, suite C (Scio Town Center). 929-4500. Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Sun. noon-5 p.m.

Got a retail or restaurant change? Send email to tonymcreynolds@tds.net or sallymitani@gmail.com, or or leave voicemail at 769-3175, ext. 309.