Home-renovation reality-show addicts know this story: Boy meets girl. They get married. They start a business renovating houses side by side.
Except that, in the Boise version of the story, the husband and wife eventually give up their home-flipping careers after taking seven houses down to the studs and completely redoing them. They open a retail boutique in West Downtown Boise.
Marley and Ryan “Abe” Abraham are that do-it-yourself team. The Abrahams, now in their 30s, made a name for themselves with renovated North End homes and Pinterest-worthy DIY projects such as a wooden slide built into a stairway.
Then, about a month ago, they opened Urban Duo, a furniture and home store at 1726 W. Main St.
Never miss a local story.
Most people who walk in assume it’s a consignment shop. But all the inventory is new. Most items are available to buy on the spot. Urban Duo also places custom orders and has two small warehouses full of items. The Abrahams expect Urban Duo to outgrow its space in about a year.
The couple invested about $100,000 in the venture, including the costs of renovating what used to be a woodworking space, importing and buying all their inventory, and renting the warehouses.
“We have pretty much leveraged ourselves personally as far as we probably could go to do this,” Marley said. “I think we’re that passionate about what we’re doing here that we felt like it was worth it to take the risk. I think we felt like, if we didn’t do this, it would haunt us.”
The couple’s story goes back about a decade, when Marley caught the house-flipping bug and began working in interior design and residential construction.
She met Abe when he visited Boise while working as a wildland firefighter. They liked each other, but at the time, he lived in Montana, where he had grown up watching his father run a construction business.
Abe eventually moved to Boise. He happened to move in across the street from Marley.
“Within two months, we were married, and he was part of the business and started doing the flipping with me,” Marley said.
Q: What happened next?
Marley: Our specialty was, kind of, finding the grossest, ugliest, nastiest home that nobody else wanted, that had been sitting for months, and showing people that everything [can be redeemed] with the right vision and floor plan.
It was fun, but it was also exhausting. You get so immersed in it sometimes that it’s hard to step away. It’s more of a lifestyle than a career.
The biggest issue for us was that we would put so much effort and work and passion [into a project for] at least six months. And at the end of the day, there was one buyer — only one person we got to connect with after all that time spent and passion.
We put our heads together a couple years ago: “Let’s figure out a way that we can connect with a larger group of people.”
Abe: We wanted to start our own furniture line. I also have a background in fine woodworking. So for seven to eight months in the space we’re in, we had a full wood shop in here. I was doing custom wood furniture. The demographic for Boise wasn’t that great for custom woodworking.
Marley: And we were sourcing chairs and smaller staging items from wholesalers. As we started connecting more with furniture manufacturers, we realized that there was actually some really pretty amazing stuff that wasn’t as expensive as we would’ve thought it would be. And that’s really when we realized Boise’s market for furniture was limited.
Q: How would you describe Urban Duo, the shop?
Marley: We call it “urban eclectic,” because it’s a little bit of all things urban. There’s some modern, some boho, some industrial, some mid-century. We’re a melting pot of urban styles.
Abe: We don’t want to be just another furniture store in Boise. There are a few suppliers that we are the only retailer for in Boise-slash-Idaho. The fireplaces [Vauni], we’re the only retailers in the country. We just picked up an outdoor line [Oasiq] that we’re the exclusive dealer for Idaho.
Marley: Our mission is to connect unique people with unique products, because we feel like everybody is individual and special, and their home should be reflective of that. In Boise, before, it was all kind of the same.
Q: Why this location?
Abe: We did all our marble and granite needs through Rock Hard Granite [on the corner of 17th and Main streets]. When we first hatched an idea for getting a space, I was there paying a bill for our house. I asked what they were paying and said, “Wow, that’s a really good rate for the location.” [The owner] called me back and said, “Hey, one of those spaces is coming available.”
Q: What are your plans for the future?
Marley: Have a combined warehouse and showroom so that we can backstock some of the faster fliers — the stuff that’s going to cater to a larger audience. [But] we don’t want to be a big warehouse showroom. It should be a more personal, boutique-y experience. Moving through the store would still be a cozy, personalized experience.
Abe: Everything is digital these days. So, granted, we have a website, but at this point we’re not even considering doing e-commerce. We really like doing the face-to-face and have people come see and touch.
About the shop
Address: 1726 W. Main St., Boise
Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday to Friday; noon to 6 p.m. Saturday
Phone: (208) 639-1831