CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - What started as a hobby with a small box full of 3x5 cards has blossomed into a massive warehouse, retail store and museum that covers the equivalent size of 8 football fields.
Replacements, Ltd. in Greensboro, NC is a destination. It's a place to make a china set with missing or broken pieces whole again. It is a place where heirloom silverware twisted and turned in an over-zealous disposal can be returned to form. It is a place where chipped crystal can be smoothed enough to make it safe for drinking from again.
"In all we have a half a million square feet and product on shelving 16 feet high, row after row," said company founder Bob Page.
His trip to a flea market sparked his interest in connecting people with china, silver and crystal patterns prior to starting the business in 1981. Until then he worked for the state in a job that wasn't fulfilling. Opening Replacements, Ltd. made sense to him.
"I still get excited when I see patterns that are rare and things I know our customers want," Page said.
The goal is that what comes in one door from customers selling sets they don't want anymore will go out another door to those who do. They get as many as 70-thousand new pieces of inventory every week from priceless porcelain to grocery store giveaways.
There are 12 million people in the online database and the company employs 400 others.
"Its not so much a product but oftentimes its these memories. People say their grandmother had that or that they remember eating off of that when they were growing up," Page said.
Watch the video from our visit to Replacements, Ltd. to see some of the unique skills their trained artisans possess which help them restore collectibles to their original state.
We also learned some "tricks of the trade" for checking the quality of YOUR items at home. You can learn more by watching our web-exclusive video also on this page.