What do an antique baby buggy, a homemade replica stagecoach, a vintage vinyl kitchen chair, an NBA courtside press table and a 1965 Corvette have in common? Chris and Darla Worrell have fabricated or done upholstery recovery on each of them.
The Worrells own Chris’ Recovery Shop. Between the two of them, they have the skills to remodel, fix or recover just about anything on wheels or in a home or business. It is difficult to categorize their occupation. They recover and refurbish boats, cars, trucks, and custom hot rod interiors. They also upholster furniture.
Many of the shop’s customers are commercial or industrial accounts. Their work can be seen around town at Famous Dave’s, Taco Bell, Shari’s and McDonald’s, as well as Outback and Legends Casino. The couple is accustomed to dealing with large franchises, but those accounts can present unique challenges.
“McDonald’s designs their interiors but then the local franchises are able to use us for repairs and maintenance,” Darla said. “Original vendors for their materials may be out of business or sometimes they have used a proprietary color or fabric. Those are challenges, but if it takes looking through 15 books to find a match we do it!”
Darla said they especially enjoy working for small, individually owned companies. Locally, they have recovered interior furnishings at George’s Wok, the Old Town Station and Dairy Queen on 72nd Avenue. “We usually can go pick up on a slower day, strip the item, recover it and get it returned by noon, leaving no down time for the business,” Darla said. Larger jobs require more time, of course. When The Recovery Shop revamped the bar area of Second Street Grill the eatery closed for a week.
Chris learned the upholstery trade from his mother and stepfather, owners of Ray’s Upholstery in Yakima. Although he knew running an upholstery shop was not quite what he wanted for a career, Chris continued to trade on his skills and in 1999 he and wife Darla built their shop on East Nob Hill Boulevard. By using sketches, Chris was able to help friends or customers visualize the possibilities when restoring their hot rods. Chris also taught himself to weld, and over time, Chris’ Recovery Shop became a go-to shop for vehicle, boat and home remodeling.
One example is a Mercedes-Benz van they converted into a camper. Chris removed the third-row seat, built a bed framework from scratch, sent it off for powder coating, and upon its return welded the frame into the van and made a mattress and cover, which they installed. “Some customers already know what they want while others walk into the shop and say ‘call me when it’s done,’” explained Darla. So when they and their crew of three employees tackled the complete redo of a classic Corvette, it included a tires-to-roof, fender-to-fender makeover.
“It’s like a dance,” is the way Chris explained the process that included the car moving back and forth between The Recovery Shop and local auto shops that did the overhaul on the engine, transmission and exhaust systems as well as body work and final painting. The fabrication (cutting and welding) of frame repairs was done by Chris with their entire shop contributing to the historically accurate interior restoration.
The Worrells are dedicated to keeping current with the latest trends, attending car shows and monitoring vehicle auctions. Several local customers use the recovery shop for interior work on cars they intend to sell at some of the world’s largest collector car auctions, such as Barrett-Jackson and Mecum Auctions.
“Over the years things have changed a lot,” said Darla. True tuck-and-roll upholstery (hand-stuffed individual tubed pleats that are then sewn together) had been out of style for a while, but is making a comeback on the classic car scene. But tweed fabric and piping, longtime favorites for hot rod interiors, are now out of style, replaced by accent stitching on nylon, velvet and leather.
Speaking of leather, Darla used it as an example of how their choice of distributors and vendors makes a difference in the quality they are known for. “We only buy first quality goods,” she said. “Recycled leather is available on the internet but it’s not the same. It is second-quality. We don’t want to put in the time and a customer’s money and have it fall apart in a year.”
The experience the Worrells have gained over the years is what guides them in such matters regarding what make and model of interior fabrics they may need down the line. They admit it is a guessing game, but so far, they have been lucky. Expertise plays a large part in that “luck,” as does their dedication. While their business description is not easy to pin down, the Worrells describe the shop as “lateral.”
“You can easily put yourself in a box,” Chris said. “There are upholstery shops and then there is us. We have purposefully done much more and that keeps us busy.”