By Bruce Amaro
---- — How do you go from hairstylist to successful furniture salesman?
Aaron Pic did it by collecting furniture and decorative items from the mid-1900s as a hobby. When his hair salon changed locations and gained more space, he decided to put some items from his overflowing collection on display there and up for sale.
And when the items began to sell, he decided to turn it into a business.
Pic’s Modern Review furniture store is one of the latest additions to the mix of businesses in Haverhill’s growing downtown.
His store sells furniture, lamps, wall hangings, art work and household items from mid-century America.
The Mizan salon, where Pic works as a hairstylist, started off on the second floor of a Washington Street building above what is now Han’s Garden restaurant. It eventually moved to the first floor of 62 Wingate St. because the salon’s owner wanted a street-level storefront.
At the new location, the salon had more space than it needed. Pic decided to rent the extra space to display some of his furniture, hoping for some sales. He has turned it into a successful business that sells vintage goods from 1950s and 1960s with American modern style designs. Anything with straight lines and clean curves or corners made from a single material defines the style of items he sells.
“What I envision Modern Review to be is a store that’s into all things modern,’’ Pic said. “As long as the furniture pieces, decor or art is modern, I would carry them. The heart of the business is in the furniture, but I also carry home decor, accessory, glassware, and other items that fit in with the modern theme.’’
Looking around downtown, he saw a market for his new idea because the Haverhill area has always been a strong market for antiques and old furniture. Until recently, it has not done much with modern décor, but that has changed and the demand is increasing. With television shows that draw directly on the style of the 1950s and ‘60s, such as the popular “Madmen,’’ a growing interest in items and furnishings from that period created the market targeted by Pic.
A woman walked into his showroom a week ago and took several pictures of items. She asked for prices and availability. Before she left the showroom, she placed an order for almost everything she saw and photographed.
“She was doing some commercial interior design and I had exactly what she wanted,” he said.
With an eye for clean lines and function in his living and work space, Pic found that the mid-Twentieth Century furniture and interior designs unexpectedly drew him into opening a retro-furniture store. He fills it with furniture he picks up at auctions, from antique wholesalers and roadside stands throughout the region.
The retail furniture venture developed on its own.
“I like the ‘50s and ‘60s design and style and I collect it and furnished my own place with it,” Pic said.
Eventually he collected more than he could use so he started selling items.
Born in Cambodia, Pic grew up in Southern California.
“I am 37 years old. I moved to the East Coast in the early ‘90s and have been residing in Lowell on and off since,” Pic said about his past.
Working as a full-time hairstylist for the past seven years, Pic studied fashion merchandising and later landed a job doing visual fashion merchandising for Filene’s and Macy’s department stores. Macy’s has its roots in Haverhill. Founder Rowland Macy had his first store in downtown Haverhill.
“That was where I started to develop a love for furniture merchandising, interior design and my love for modern furniture,’’ Pic said of his work for Filene’s and Macy’s. “I was in this field for seven years, but left in 2007 when the two companies merged.’’
He went to hairstyling school, got certified and then started working at the salon in Haverhill in 2008.