After I moved in with my fiancé last year, we realized we needed a home for his massive 42-inch TV. My tiny television stand and his old desk just weren’t going to cut it, so we scoured Craigslist for media consoles. We’re both mid-century modern aficionados, and it quickly became evident from our searches that there was a dealer with a clutch of storage lockers in Bethesda housing an incredible collection. Hans Wegner, Milo Baughman, Lane, Knoll—many of the biggest names in mid-century modern were there. We met with Doug Meyers and were awed by his pieces. Whenever we thought we’d seen everything, he said he had another storage locker to show us—eight in all.
So when he opened Modern Mobler last May, he had no trouble filling the store with his wares (he continues to rent two storage lockers). Among his collection are dozens of sleek tables in rosewood and teak; low-slung, straight-lined lounge chairs; and bright ceramic statement lamps. The prices aren’t cheap, but considering the quality and authenticity of what you’re getting, they’re eminently reasonable. “There’s this anti-Ikea revolution going on, which is partly why I, and I think other similar retailers, have been so successful,” Meyers says. “People are tired of disposable furniture.
“The stuff that I sell in general is 30 to 60 years old, and I tell everyone, ‘It looks this good because it was made well, and it was well taken care of. So if you take good care of it, it will last another 30 to 60 years.’”
Modern Mobler’s white brick storefront in Takoma is marked by a cheerful orange pod chair. “I can’t tell you how many customers I’ve gotten to come in because of it,” Meyers says. “It’s paid for itself three times over. Wives will see it as they’re driving by and make their husbands turn the car around. It’s kind of become my marquee.” Though he was initially planning to open on 11th Street by Columbia Heights Coffee, he’s happy he found his location just up the street from Walter Reed. “Everyone who comes in from the neighborhood is like, ‘Oh my god, this is fabulous. We want to help you, we’ll tell all our friends,’” he says.
Though neighbors constitute a healthy percentage of Meyers’ clientele, he has had the odd brush with celebrity. When rapper Trey Songz was in town last year filming a music video in the presidential suite at a downtown hotel, he rented some of Meyers’ furniture for the set, including a ’70s black vinyl sofa bed with chrome trim. “I was like, ‘Really? You want that? I’ve slept on that,’” says Meyers.
In the end, my fiancé and I purchased a Broyhill Brasilia credenza for his TV. The total came to about $600, including tax and delivery. I’ve seen similar pieces selling on eBay for nearly $1000. Meyers says it’s important to him that his customers love his pieces as much in their own homes as they do in his store. “I don’t want you to come home and be unhappy,” he says. As the proud owner of an iconic, exceptionally well-priced piece of furniture that I expect to use and love for years, I most certainly am not.