Seaglass Salvage Market Showcases Local Artists
The monthly Seaglass Salvage Market showcases local artists, crafters and designers in the theme of Reuse, Recycle and Restyle.
PHOTOGRAPHY By Megan Deitz
Finding a tiny unexpected treasure like a beautiful piece of sea glass is one of those coveted treats in life. I felt the same way when I discovered the Seaglass Salvage Market.
Nestled in a warehouse off Highway 74/76 in Leland, the market is truly a hidden gem. It’s an innovative, fun and friendly shopping experience and is quickly becoming a destination for shoppers who want to find one-of-a-kind goods from local artists, crafters and designers. The indoor/outdoor upscale market is held the third Friday, Saturday and Sunday of each month.
For owner Kelli Benton, Seaglass Salvage Market is a dream come true. Her love for reusing and repurposing unique items has made her business a success.
Anyone who meets Kelli can instantly feel her energy and passion for her work.
“If anyone were to tell me a few years ago that I’d be doing what I’m doing now, I would have said, ‘You’re crazy!’ ” she says.
Originally from Brooklyn, NY, Kelli moved to Leland from Myrtle Beach eight years ago. Several years later she married her husband, Brad Benton, who is from Leland, and they settled in the Compass Pointe community.
“I love it here,” she says. “I love living in and owning a business in the same area. I like to get to know people.”
It all started a few years ago when she and Brad started making signs in the garage and selling them online.
“Brad turned out to be a great woodworker — unknowingly!” Kelli says.
“I kept it a secret,” he adds.
Kelli began meeting a lot of people when buying paints and other supplies for her projects. As her connections grew, her ideas for different projects expanded and she set about purchasing unique styled pieces of furniture, new and old.
“We tried selling these pieces as is, and they weren’t selling,” she says, “but then we started painting them. At first, it made Brad crazy to paint over wooden furniture, but when painted and repurposed, they started selling!”
In August of 2014, Kelli and two of her friends opened Seaglass Salvage Market. Shortly after, her friends moved on to other endeavors. At first Kelli thought perhaps she should move on too, but that didn’t quite feel right.
“I just really loved the business, and I wasn’t ready to let it go,” she says. “So I enlisted my husband’s help even more than before.”
Kelli stresses that Seaglass Salvage Market’s name doesn’t mean salvage as in “junk,” but rather in the sense of taking old and discarded things and making them new and exciting again.
Currently the business has 17 permanent vendors in its warehouse. Several vending spaces are left reserved for alternating vendors each day of the market weekend. Vendors rent ceiling to floor space and are able to decorate it however they wish. Outside areas are also rented.
“We try to accommodate our vendors as much as possible,” Kelli says. “That’s important.”
To keep the market fresh and eclectic each month, the Bentons are particular about renting space to vendors that may sell similar items.
“We are loyal to our vendors, and we try to make sure that there isn’t competition,” she says.
Kelli says she is awed by the amount of local talent she has seen through the various artisans to whom she rents: “To name just some of the items our vendors sell, we have upcycled, salvaged and repurposed furniture, antiques, home decor, stamped jewelry, pepper jelly and relishes, local honey, hand-poured candles, original artwork, coastal photography, homemade chocolates, handmade signs and lighting — from chandeliers to fun industrial pieces.”
Kelli and Brad have their own vending space as well, where they continue to sell refurbished furniture and other items. They take custom painting orders (using Annie Sloan paints) for furniture and home décor and also sell Seaglass Salvage Market T-shirts and coozies showcasing their attractive classic truck logo and their slogan, “Reuse, Recycle, Restyle.”
“Our vendors are like family,” Kelli says. “We truly enjoy each other. The energy in here during set-up on what we call ‘Seaglass Eve’ is amazing. We are like giggly kids.”
It’s like Christmas for the customers as well. Since Seaglass Salvage Market is only open the third weekend of every month, the customers line up early, waiting with anticipation to see what new things they will discover. Foot traffic gets heavier every month, too.
“When we first opened Seaglass we were so focused on trying to attract customers from Wilmington,” Kelli says. “But then we realized there are so many potential customers right here in Leland and other parts of Brunswick County. Now they don’t have to just travel to Wilmington to try and find the types of things we sell. We are right here!”
Customers also like the pleasurable atmosphere and camaraderie.
“We’re a fun group!” Kelli says. “I want our customers to know that someone at Seaglass will greet them — we appreciate who you are.”
On Saturdays, Seaglass offers a food truck from places such as A & M’s Red Food Truck, inc. and Trolley Stop. They set up tables and chairs outside, play music and set up a coffee and hot cocoa and cookie bar to make the whole scene enjoyable.
The outside facade may look like an ordinary warehouse, but on market days, the transformation inside is truly impressive. The vendor layout spaces are appealing and easy to navigate.
“To quote one customer,” says Brad, “It looks like real-life Pinterest in here!”
To him, one of the greatest compliments about Seaglass was when a customer came in the door, paused and with eyes wide, said, “Whoaa.”
“That was the best,” he says.
Seaglass has been a positive experience for the Bentons in every way.
“I’m very happy,” Kelli says. “Everyone I’ve come across in this business has enriched my life.”
Want to go?
Seaglass Salvage Market is located at 1987 Andrew Jackson Highway (74/76) in Leland. It is open the third weekend of every month: Friday from 9 am to 3 pm; Saturday from 9 am to 5 pm; and Sunday from 12 to 5 pm. For more information, visit seaglasssalvagemarket.com or facebook.com/seaglasssalvage