When Scott Strain was playing football at Blue Springs High School in the early 1990s, he had a dream.
“It was the same dream of any high school kid who plays football, I wanted to be on a state championship football team,” said Strain, who along with his wife Nichole recently opened Bent Hinge Trading Co., at 26 E. 39th St. in downtown Kansas City.
“Well, I graduated in 1991 and the Wildcats won the state championship in 1991, so I missed it by a year.”
Well, that dream didn’t become a reality, but the Bent Hinge Trading Co., has more than made up for the lack of a state title.
Strain believes that if you lose out on one dream, you follow another.
“You bet, because this store is a dream come true for me and Nichole,” said Strain, a master wood craftsman who spends most days creating unique furniture that has to be seen to be truly appreciated.
“I met Nichole eight years ago and they reshuffled some people where she was working and she lost her job. Well, we both had a passion for working with wood and we visited her uncle in Savannah, Missouri, and he had an old wood corn crib that he was about to push down with a bulldozer.
“I took one look at it, and saw all the possibilities of working with the wood from the crib. We salvaged the wood, and visions of tables, and table legs, popped into my head – and really, that was the beginning of all of this.”
Today, the Bent Hinge Trading Co., offers a wide variety of wood, metal and concrete home décor.
“It’s kind of funny,” Strain said, chuckling, “you can tell the people who get it, and the people who don’t. We might have someone walk in off the street, and they turn and walk about before they even get through the door. Then, we have the people who get it – and I can’t tell you how many customers have purchased something from us, and come back and purchased more.”
The Bent Hinge Trading Co., is like discovering a buried treasure box, says Independence resident Jeff Barge.
“If I could, I would live in his store,” said Barge, who purchased a vintage wood craftsman’s mallet on a recent visit. “It’s like walking into a century-old loft of rustic treasures.
“Scott has wood products that bring out the personality of the wood, accentuating the beauty of a raw edge of a walnut table or cutting board.
“Vintage butcher block tables that tell the story of decades of use, full of character. Its rustic chic’, something you can’t buy in a department store anywhere in the world.”
A ringing endorsement like that doesn’t just come from a customer like Barge.
“I met Scott in the West Bottoms (the art district just east of Kemper Arena) when he had a booth, and we really hit it off,” said artist Tom McPherson of Diamond Crow Art Studio.
“I approached him about putting some of my art in his new store and he was really excited about it, and so was I. And that’s what I like about Scott – he gets as excited about the artists who are featured in his store as he is about his and his wife’s own art work.
“And I love the store. It can be a little bit overwhelming when you first walk in because you’re going to see so many things you just aren’t used to seeing in a store.”
Strain does most of the woodwork, creating tables, shelves, benches and chairs and custom work in the homes of his many patrons. His wife creates cutting boards and jewelry.
The work of Steve Kingsoliver of Copper Rooster Restoration, Stevie’s Antiques and the American Barnwood Co., are also featured in the Bent Hinge Trading Co.
“I remember when I sold my first piece, and I can’t even tell you how excited I was, the buzz I got from my first sale,” Strain said. “Now, I get that same buzz when I call someone who has their work here and I sell something for them.
“I can’t wait to complete the deal and call them and tell them that they sold something. I think, in some ways, I’m as excited as they are.”
When he’s not creating one-of-a-kind works of art, he still follows his Wildcats.
And he has a special connection with coach Kelly Donohoe, who owns four state championships and has taken Blue Springs to back-to-back state championship games the past two years, only to come up on the short end of the scoreboard.
“We lived in Harrisonville before my family moved to Blue Springs, and my older brother Kevin graduated from Harrisonville High School with Kelly in 1986, so we’ve followed Kelly his entire career,” Strain said. “Small world, isn’t it.”
It is, and in the world of the Bent Hinge Trading Co., it’s a treasure trove of creativity, too.
Bent Hinge Trading Co., is open Wednesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and First Fridays, Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. and by appointment by calling 913-207-0692.