Shark Gravy, the Treasure Hunters who Never Stop Moving

Erick and Kayla, fulltime treasure hunters.

Erick and Kayla, full time treasure hunters.

If there was ever a more resolved duo, it would be the Chicago-based couple behind Shark Gravy. Kayla Benedict and Erick Pausz have plenty of goals for 2013. Aside from selling secondhand furniture on Krrb, they are working on “Hell on Earth”, an animated television pilot, never mind learning woodworking and animation programs. Wowza!

When it comes to their home, that New Year’s purge is more of an ongoing process. A lot of times, Kayla and Erick use the furniture they’re selling to furnish their own home until it is sold, so they are constantly starting with a clean slate. First on their to-do list is to find a wardrobe solution. Kayla and Erick just sold a Broyhill dresser set that housed their own clothes. Read on to find out why we can’t get enough of these treasure hunters.

Tell us a bit about yourself.
We are Erick and Kayla, a couple who recently decided to start our own business reselling mid century modern furniture. We are also writers, currently working on a couple pilots to enter for competitions. In our spare time we enjoy playing instruments, DIY projects, playing Scrabble, and treasure hunting.

Where are you from and where do you currently live?
Erick is from the South side of Chicago, a suburb called Evergreen Park. Kayla is from a small town in Indiana called North Manchester. We currently live in an apartment near Logan Square/Avondale.

A truckload worth of found treasures.

A truckload worth of found treasures.

What is the most awesome thing in or about your neighborhood?
Red Apple Buffet. It’s an amazing Polish buffet! We recommend only going there if you plan to do nothing else the rest of the day. And we mean nothing. Lie down. Your day is done.

Where do you go locally to discover hidden treasures?
Whenever we go thrift shopping up North we always try to stop at Lambs Farm in Libertyville. Though we’ve never gotten any furniture from Lambs, we have found plenty of other gems in the thrift store. Lambs is a wonderful program which helps people with developmental disabilities lead productive and independent lives. We are happy to support Lambs Farm and love to visit! Plus they have chocolate and animals!

What blogs or websites do you visit regularly?
Apartment Therapy, of course! Design Sponge.
Under The Table and Dreaming is one of Kayla’s favorite blogs for new project ideas, recipes, and creative motivation. Erick likes ESPN!

As a kid, were any of your toys and clothes hand-me-downs? Stories please!
Growing up, Erick’s mother was a clown. Literally. In her quest for recycled outfits in thrift stores, she brought along young Erick who developed a unique taste for cowboy boots and leisure suits. (He has since outgrown his “Western professional” look, much to Kayla’s dismay.)

Today, how often do you go to garage sales, flea markets, etc.? What is your modus operandi? Any personal tips you’d like to share?
We spend so much time in thrift stores, going to estate sales, searching on Craigslist, it can be exhausting. But it’s a pretty fun job! Some days we are strictly looking for furniture. “In and out,” we have to tell ourselves. Other days we have a more leisurely approach. It is very easy for us to get sucked into looking for vintage clothing, books, quilts, and so many other knickknacks. Our tip is to not get too attached to anything. Everything must go! We joke that everything in our apartment is for sale. Make an offer!

A coat of white paint freshens up this revamped dresser.

A coat of white paint freshens up this revamped dresser.

Have you ever taken home an object you found in the street or dumpster? If so, what was it? And where is it now?
Definitely! Alley finds are the best! My favorite incident: We spent two days scouring Indianapolis thrift stores and returned to Chicago empty-handed. As we pulled in our back alley, we found a mid century credenza a half a block away from our place. A bit tattered and torn, yes, but we fixed it up and sold it in no time!

Are you a hoarder or a minimalist?
We strive for minimalism, but find it very hard not to become hoarders. What can we say, we love stuff!

Shark Gravy's garage, a photo studio and workshop all in one.

Shark Gravy’s garage, a photo studio and workshop all in one.

What is your most cherished thrifted, secondhand, vintage, upcycled object you possess? What’s the story behind it?
One of the first thrifted things Erick bought for Kayla was a bed frame; she’d been sleeping on mattresses on the ground for years. Erick came along and said, “Girl, we gotta get you off the ground!” And even though it took her a while to avoid running into those darn corners of the frame, the gesture meant a lot to her.

A $5 find has a permanent spot in Erick's home.

A $5 find has a permanent spot in Erick’s home.

Erick’s favorite thing is a vintage vinyl orange lounge chair. It’s gorgeous! We found it buried under a mound of clutter at an estate sale for $5 – it was half off! There was an elderly gentleman who advised we take it back to the city and sell it for $75 on Craigslist. Kayla initially listed it online for $200. There were a lot of interested buyers right away. Erick said he loved the thing too much to sell it for $200, so he marked it up to $400 as a way to keep it to himself!

Do you create/make things? What are you working on these days?
We are currently revamping two dressers that don’t exactly fit into our regular selling market. It is our first time doing this and if all goes well (i.e. we sell them) we’d like to keep it up. Kayla just started taking woodworking classes and plans to build a kitchen butcher block amongst other things. She also loves to bake and experiment in the kitchen. Erick is learning Adobe After Effects and we are drawing cartoon sketches in order to animate our new TV pilot. Other upcoming projects: Homemade bagels, leather plant hanger, and lofty wood working projects.

On the by and by, what’s your day job?
Straight up treasure hunters!

Thanks Kayla and Erick!

The Short List

Red Apple Buffet, 3121 North Milwaukee Avenue in Chicago, Illinois

Lambs Farm, 14245 West Rockland Road in Libertyville, Illinois

Shark Gravy Online
Shark Gravy’s Krrb corner
Twitter @shark_gravy


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