On the east wall of the White Elephant Emporium is a large sign that reads “Beitzinger’s: Appliances, Parts, and Repair.”
It’s a nod to a couple of really important pieces of this story: Pittsburg and family.
“We knew my father and uncle owned this amazing old building that was basically just storage for the past 30 years,” said Stephanie Watts, maiden name Beitzinger, who co-owns the White Elephant Emporium with her sister-in-law Danielle Beitzinger. “Nobody thought two women our age would go into that warehouse and do what we did.”
The warehouse she’s talking about is located at 108 E. 8th Street and is the former home to her family’s appliance repair shop. It’s now home to an eclectic collection of unique home decor in an open air emporium. After just one step inside, it’s hard to imagine it was ever “just storage” for anything.
“It’s been pure desire and hard work,” Watts said, “but we are both driven and we both know how to get work done at this point in our lives. We’ve had a blast together doing it. It’s been a real family affair.”
Watts and Beitzinger have worked for years in the design industry, and they’ve done it all over the world. Kansas City, Los Angeles, London, Orlando. The White Elephant Emporium is the realization of a dream they’ve both had, but perhaps with a few unexpected details.
“We created a design studio and business that we both have been working toward for years,” Watts said. “We just didn’t realize it would be in this building and in Pittsburg, but the stars aligned.”
The two designers are “quintessential American pickers” and are quite meticulous about selecting items for White Elephant.
“When we aren’t open, every single day is spent hunting down items that are coming from all over the Four States, or for that matter, from all over the U.S.,” Watts said. “Once we pick it up, it gets out into the Emporium and then the fun begins. We tinker with everything — shift it, possibly paint it, re-work it until we get just the right look for the vision we are going for. It’s truly a decorator’s dream.”
Tinker. Shift it. Re-work it. That’s pretty much the story of Pittsburg these days.
“Pittsburg isn’t your parents’ town anymore,” Watts said. “It’s changing, becoming more sophisticated. Our buyers are savvy and well-traveled. We were a bit surprised at just how much our customers were craving a real brick and mortar store. They want to see, touch, smell, and enjoy the entire shopping experience, which means we want them to sit in one of our seating vignettes and have some cider, eat a cookie and listen to some music. Pittsburg was craving this, and we are thrilled to bring it to them.”
For Watts, who recently returned to Pittsburg after living in Orlando, moving home has been a “total positive lifestyle change.”
“I don’t spend hours sitting in traffic, or waiting in lines at a grocery store or check-out,” she said. “I can breathe here and think here, which has allowed me to expand and have more time for my family, hobbies, even create a new business. Danielle and I both believe we could have never done this anywhere but in Pittsburg.
“This town allows you to have a dream, have the time, energy, and money to go for that dream. Our beautiful small city has a quality of life that is unmatchable.