An Artisans’ Haven at Vagabond Treasures
4236 W. Vickery Blvd.
Fort Worth 76107
Paul and Britta Haberman, husband-and-wife owners of An Artisans’ Haven at Vagabond Treasures in Fort Worth, have a two-fold mission.
Their new store in a strip shopping center on West Vickery Boulevard is designed to showcase original fine arts, not crafts, by local artists and artisans. With their new concept shop – a co-op for and by artists and artisans that resembles more of a gallery than a retail setting – the couple also is promoting a renaissance of shopping and dining in their West Side neighborhood. The store faces the new Chisholm Trail Parkway toll road and is in clear view of the Amon G. Carter Stadium on the campus of Texas Christian University.
“Rediscover West Vickery Boulevard. Come see what’s here,” Paul said. “Vagabond Treasures is a venue for artisans to show and sell their creations in a retail space. As far as we know, there’s not another co-op like this in Fort Worth.”
The Habermans are familiar faces on the city’s West Side. A native of Fort Worth, Paul is a field service technician with PAC Systems Inc., a service provider of fire and life safety products. “(I call myself Pac-Man,” he says). His father is noted architect Paul Haberman Sr. of HBJ Architects in Irving, whose many office and medical buildings, health care facilities, churches, restaurants and residences dot the Fort Worth-Dallas area.
The younger Haberman started his career about 30 years ago in the nightclub business, building the interiors. Veterans of Fort Worth’s alternative and industrial music scene may remember a couple of nightclubs the Habermans owned – the now-defunct SuSu Lounge off Camp Bowie Boulevard and the old Feathers nightclub at the long-gone Green Oaks Inn (where Elvis once stayed). Paul and Britta met at Feathers.
“There’s been a lot of road since then. I got into electronics because music doesn’t pay,” Paul said, adding his infectious laugh.
Britta, an Air Force brat, had moved with her family to Fort Worth about 1980. After she and Paul married, she stayed home to raise the children before working as a scrub technician at Baylor Regional Medical Center at Grapevine. Last year, the couple began talking about opening an interior furnishings business.
“We wanted to do something for ourselves and be our own boss,” Britta said.
While helping Paul’s sister, Diana Haberman, relocate her long-time West Side garment alterations and repair shop, Clothes Carpenter, from one end of Vickery Boulevard to the other, the couple noticed the empty retail space next door.
Britta had an epiphany after attending an arts and crafts show.
“We noticed how the artisans, most of them with phenomenal fine arts, were next to the crafters. We don’t need more crafters or furnishings stores or antiques shops. That’s where the idea of an artists’ co-op began,” she said.
The Habermans contacted the landlord of the vacant retail space, a former lighting store warehouse, and sans business plan or financial statements hammered out a five-year lease.
“He wanted to see a business plan. No. Didn’t have one,” Paul said. “I told him, ‘My wife wants a store. Our plan is to get 100 artists and artisans to pay us $100 a month each. If I can make that happen – great.’ It took blind faith to do it. We took a gamble.”
An Artists’ Haven at Vagabond Treasures opened Jan. 2 with four artisans. Today, more than 70 artists and artisans participate in the co-op. They pay a monthly shelf fee and 10 percent of their profit back to the house. Unlike traditional art galleries, all artwork in the store is unjuried and the inventory changes frequently. The owners’ 20-year-old daughter, Bri Haberman, handles all the placement of the artwork, designs the brochures, updates social media sites and does all the marketing. The store also offers jewelry and lamp repair.
“This is a place for the artists and artisans to show, a place where they’re a part of the gallery,” Britta said.
Fort Worth ceramic artist Stormie Parker is one of the original four who signed on and is a best-seller, along with her eight-year-old grandson, Izaiah “Z” Davalos, who is already a successful artist. Young Z dedicates one third of his profits to the local chapter of Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Shoppers also will find fine-crafted pieces carved from native woods by Southlake artist Ken Burghart; industrial-chic furniture by designer and fabricator Thomas Diel; sculptural pieces by Raymond Huyge; custom art glass lighting by Haslet artist Shawn Steichen; and paintings by Fort Worth artist Andrea Chicotsky. And for TCU fans, there’s a bounty of handmade horned toad jewelry, key rings and trinkets.
“Each artist has a story. That makes it very cool,” Paul said. “Fort Worth actually supports this. There’s nothing in here made in China. All the talent here is made within a 50-mile radius. Everything you see is one of a kind. This is not Crate & Barrel. We don’t have 50 more of an item in the back room.”
The Habermans are working to unite West Vickery merchants into a professional business association so they can get to know one another and promote the area.
“We want to bring in more business but we also want to make people aware of who we are and what we have,” Paul said. “It’s time people rediscover West Vickery Boulevard.”