M &M offers more than 30 years of furniture experience – The Union-Recorder

After half a lifetime repairing and refinishing furniture, there’s little that Marvin Medders hasn’t seen.

At M&M Refinishing, the small, tucked-away shop he has maintained for roughly 30 years, Medders has repaired and refinished all manner of modern and antique furniture, turning oftentimes damaged, decades-old pieces into unique works of art. In repairing pieces that clients are reluctant to part with, of which many have been passed down from parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents, Medders has essentially made a career protecting some of people’s most valuable possessions.

“When my grandparents died, they left me some furniture, and I started redoing that,” said Medders on how he got started in the business. “People saw it and wanted to know if I would do a piece for them when I was doing it out of my carport at home, and finally I built a small little shop in my backyard. It got to a point where my wife said ‘You can’t keep storing these in the house’, so I had to move it out of the house and come here.”

In his shop hidden deep within the Oconee Commercial Complex on Barrows Ferry Road, Medders repairs damage in everything from fire, water and floods, age, and even missing or broken parts. Although each new piece he takes in presents a new and unique task, the repairman of nearly 40 years has a clearly defined method for each one.

“We’ve got a big vat in the back, and we’ll put chemicals in it and put the furniture in it. We strip all the old finish off, and that’s all completely done by hand with steel wool and paint scrapers,” said Medders of preparing a piece of furniture for refinishing. “As soon as it dries, we’ll take it out, sand it, and stain it. After we stain it, we’ll use a sander-sealer on it and sand between the coats. We’ll put anywhere from two to three coats of a real hard finish on top of it … each procedure has got to be done right: If it’s not stripped or sanded right, it’s not going to turn out good.”

Although the process of repairing furniture might seem alien to some, Medders obviously knows it well enough. Aside from being the only dedicated refinishing business in Milledgeville, Medders regularly receives commissions from Atlanta, Macon, Warner Robins, and even places as far north as Elijay and Dahlonega. Locally, the shopkeeper has worked on furniture for Andalusia, Lockerly Arboretum, Georgia Military College and Georgia College, and even the wife of former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue (“I think they even brought the NFL moving van down here to load it up,” he recalled).

Medders prefers to let his clientele come to him through word-of-mouth, and the rows and rows of furniture in his shop serve as proof that quality is the best advertisement.

“I’m doing another generation now,” Medders said of some of his more loyal customers. “The people I started out with, their children are getting married and having children, so now I’m doing furniture for them and their children.”

In his nearly four decades of refinishing and repairing furniture, Medders can recall only three instances where he has been forced to redo a piece. This fact is made more impressive by the sheer number of projects he takes on — the shopkeeper cites his propensity to overload himself with work as his biggest challenge in running the shop. Although Medders has no shortage of pieces to work on, in a line of work that regularly involves handling other people’s priceless family heirlooms, the seasoned repairman said it helps to be his own harshest critic.

“A lot of this stuff belongs to grandmamma and great-grandmamma, and it may not even be worth five dollars, but to them it’s worth thousands,” Medders said. “You’ve got to do a good job and you don’t want to mess it up because it’s irreplaceable.”

M&M Refinishing is located in the center of the Oconee Industrial Complex at 951 Barrows Ferry Road. The shop is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and can be reached by phone at 478-452-6838.


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