Salvage Firm Enjoying Brisk Business in New Location

By Amy Medeiros
Standard-Times Correspondent

Standard-Times file photo Wander around the halls of New England Demolition and Salvage in New Bedford’s South End and you might get a sinking sensation.

NEW BEDFORD — When buying and fixing up a new place, homeowners can spend thousands of dollars on building materials such as doors, windows, and hardware. But instead of buying new, buyers might want to take a look at a growing architectural salvage store, New England Demolition and Salvage.
Located in the South End, New England Demolition and Salvage has more than 110,000 square feet of vintage building materials, doubling the square footage of its previous location at the former Ocean Spray cranberry building in Wareham.
“We’re a specialty store, and there’s not many others around,” said Harry James, owner of the business with his wife, Jeanine.
The couple first opened their store in May 1998; they moved to their current location in New Bedford in April 2007.
“I think New Bedford is an up-and-coming city, and I think business is going to get better every year,” Mr. James said.
Business has increased in recent months, he said.
“Even when the economy improves, I believe business will still grow because people always want to save money, which is why we started the business in the first place.”
The company buys and sells existing architectural builiding materials, and offers items that are difficult to find in other places. It buys salvage rights and searches for buildings that are being torn down or remodeled.
“We go down to the site and look at it first to see what’s in it, then we make an offer,” Mr. James said. “You might find a building cabinet that’s unusual, and that’s the fun part.”
The store’s inventory includes 6,000 interior/exterior doors; all solid wood, along with 600 clawfoot bath tubs. Other items include vintage radiators, fireplace mantels, newel posts, columns, ironwork, molding and trim.
In addition, the business has an extensive inventory of sinks, and windows ranging from one pane to 12, including wooden storm windows.
It also offers a large selection of stained glass windows, along with unique lighting options from stained glass fixtures, to chandeliers, to outdoor fixtures.
The store’s hardware selection also is extensive, with doorknobs in glass, porcelain, metal and brass.
Not only does New England Demolition and Salvage offer one of a kind items, but it also offers materials at steep discounts, Mr. James said.
“Some people can’t afford to spend $150 for a door at Home Depot,” Mr. James said.
“Our doors are sold for $40 or $50.”
Often items customers purchase in chain stores are expensive, and not nearly the quality of materials found in a salvage store.
The couple discovered over the years that if they refinish and sand their materials before selling, the cost will increase, so they try to refrain from cleaning up anything.
“People get a sense of pride fixing up our materials and refinishing it themselves,” Mr. James said.
“We get a lot of people who send us back pictures of what they’ve done with our materials so we can show others what can be done.”
Often, customers send the business owners a picture of something unusual they have done with the items, such as turning a front door into a headboard.
The business also is known for its antiques.
Inside the store are 16 booths available for antique dealers to rent. Circa Vintage Wear is located inside of the business.
New England Demolition and Salvage also has found itself working with movies that are being filmed in the Rhode Island and Boston areas.
“They buy and rent materials from us,” Mr. James said. “Once they are done using it, we buy the materials back at a cheaper price and sell it again.”
At one point, the salvage store was working with eight movies at one time.
“Now we’re even getting calls from New York about our radiators,” he added.
Salvaging building materials saves labor and landfill costs, and allows customers to keep the vintage look of their homes or buildings, while saving money in the process.
“I like the effectiveness of the store, and I love the idea that we’re recycling,” East Freetown resident and customer Patricia Knight said.
“It’s a great use of an old building.”
Ms. Knight discovered the business when she was passing through the South End.
New England Demolition and Salvage is at 73 Cove St. in New Bedford.
Business hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday to Monday. It is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
“Everybody’s going green, with more and more people getting into recyling, and that’s what we do,” Mr. James said.
For additional information, visit the store’s Web site at, or e-mail Harry and Jeanine James at
August 3, 2008
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