Business partners Tony Falcone and David Smith of Fast Buck Freddie’s At Home travel the archipelago of Indonesia, searching for Shangri-La-worthy pieces to put in the stores’ showrooms on Caroline Street and Flagler Avenue.
“To the people of Indonesia, the root ball at the base of the tree has no value; they only care about the wood in the trunk. I see the beauty in the knots and curves of the teak, tamarind and mahogany trees. Sometimes I envision it being the base of a table or a piece of furniture,” said Smith.
Smith and Falcone spend days traveling through the Pacific and said every trip is an adventure. Falcone has been making such trips since the mid ‘80s, but it wasn’t until he met Smith in 2000 that he decided to venture to Indonesian cities, including the capital Jakarta.
“I was a little hesitant about going there because it is a primarily Muslim society and it was just after 9/11,” said Falcone. “I told people I was Saudi Arabian at first.”
The first trip was tumultuous. Smith said a volcano was erupting, spewing poisonous gas and passengers were issued masks at the airport. After a few days in the main city, the pair realized they needed to escape the city’s centers to find the authentic goods.
“I wanted to retire after we closed Fast Buck Freddie’s on Duval Street two years ago, but David encouraged me to keep the one on Caroline Street open on the strength of the exciting trips alone,” Falcone said.
In the rural countryside, Smith and Falcone encountered barefoot artists carving elaborate designs in shacks with dirt floors or in the backyard. Often, the artists’ skills are passed down from generation to generation.
Although the furniture from the Pacific islands is among the most awe-inspiring goods in the store, it’s actually only a small part of the furnishings and accessories for sale. Couches from Italy, banana leaf rattan sets, modern glass light fixtures and stylish patio furniture are a few other pieces. Also Christmas trinkets, ornaments and unique gifts are also available — items similar to those stocked at the former Fast Buck Freddie’s on Duval Street.
The store on Flagler Avenue is 100 percent for locals and has reasonably priced, high-quality items. Most of the items are from direct importing so they are not known brands. They do carry a line of Amish furniture called Norwalk from Ohio, where the Amish do all the woodwork. They also carry furniture from the stylish design company Four Hands. Some inventory is out of Europe and some is from South America. Falcone said by importing unique items the store avoids issues of online shopping and big box stores.
Fast Buck Freddie’s location in Old Town is at 726 Caroline St. and their New Town location is at 3229 Flagler Ave.