By Sally Deering
Photo of Tad Eaton and Chris Morelli in front of The Frayed Knot by Sally Deering
Move over “Cake Boss”! Chris Morelli and Tad Eaton, owners of The Frayed Knot, a vintage furniture and brick-a-brack emporium in Hoboken are fast becoming the new darlings of reality TV. Friends and business partners, Morelli and Eaton star in “Storage Wars: New York” an A&E TV reality show that follows an eclectic group of ‘treasure hunters’ from the Metropolitan area who search for hidden bounty in repossessed storage units. It’s like a twist on that old game show “Let’s Make a Deal”. You get to see what’s behind Door No. 1 but you don’t know the true value of your deal until you rip open the boxes and pick through the spoils.
Photo Courtesy of A & E TV
Making its January 2013 debut with six episodes, “Storage Wars: New York” is a spin-off of the “Storage Wars” franchise which also includes “Storage Wars: Texas.” The New York cast features Joe Pauletich of Queens, Candy Olsen and Courtney Wagner of Brooklyn, Mike Braiotta of the Bronx and Morelli and Eaton of Hoboken. Auctioneer is New Yorker John Luke.
In the debut episode, “Beg, Borough and Steal” several cast members including Morelli and Eaton bid on and buy goodies inside three separate storage units. The girls unearth several pairs of high-heeled shoes and possibly a pole dancer’s costume; Joe ‘P’ discovers some interesting art and photography; and Morelli and Eaton excavate a brand new gas grill and two French chests called commodes they bring back to their shop, paint bright red and put out for sale in one of The Frayed Knot’s splashy showrooms. Photo inside Frayed Knot by Sally Deering
Photo of Chris Morelli, Tad Eaton and Dottie courtesy of A & E TV
Stepping inside The Frayed Knot is like falling through the rabbit hole and landing in a retro wonderland of vintage furnishings, dishware, knick-knacks, lamps, old dial phones, manual typewriters, ad signs, carpets, quilts, mini and life-size mannequins and sparkling chandeliers. If you like vintage, you’ll love the eye candy at The Frayed Knot where the walls, floors and everything in between are filled with objects that seem to capture moments in history.
“Everything here has a story,” Eaton says, putting firewood into a working fireplace. “We are an antique store technically but that word doesn’t describe what we do. I’m not a big fan of antique stores. They’re dated and ‘your grandma’. This is not your grandma’s antique store. We try to bring the past present. We show people they knew what they were doing back then. We look for the unusual, bizarre and out-of-character.”
“We try to find mid-century and older furniture,” Morelli says after selling a gilded mirror and miniature sailing ship
replica to two business owners looking to dress up their shop. “We find things we can put a spin on.”
Joining the conversation with her baritone bark is Dottie, a black-and-white Jack Russell who lost her eye defending her pups, Eaton says as he puts her on his lap. Wherever Eaton goes, Dottie goes and that includes storage unit auctions where viewers can see her sweet mug on camera. Dottie may even become reality TVs new celebrity dog with her own fan base.
The whole realty TV celebrity thing is brand new to Morelli and Eaton. After all, the show just aired a couple weeks ago and it’s still uncertain if the producers will opt for another batch of episodes.
“I love it,” Morelli says. “It’s a lot of work, but it’s fun.”
There are no restrictions to how they participate in the show, Morelli says. The cast members are never forced to bid or buy a storage unit.
“You go to the auction; you buy it if you want to buy it,” Morelli says. “It’s like any other reality show. You do ‘talks’ to the camera. That takes a while, but it’s 100 percent real.”
And the ratings?
“I understand the ratings are really good so far,” Morelli says.
Morelli and Eaton act the same on camera and off – and it seems their friendship runs deep. They moved to Hoboken in 2005 after meet at Morelli’s bar and restaurant in New York. The two realized they had a lot in common and Eaton, who was recovering from a motor vehicle accident, and Morelli who was selling his restaurant business, joined forces to start their own business restoring and selling furniture they found curbside.
“We started seeing stuff on the sidewalk and we would fix it up, put it on Craigslist and sell it,” Eaton says. “We would make enough to cover our rent, then enough to rent a garage, then a two-car garage. We expanded to a 5,000 sq. foot warehouse in Union City and moved here in 2007. The business has consistently grown each year.”
So far, the bounty they’ve discovered on “Storage Wars: New York” has brought them a profit. The outdoor grill they pulled from the back of the storage bin in “Beg, Borough and Steal,” was appraised for $1600.
On a recent Friday afternoon, one of their regulars, Jeff Goldstein of Jersey City stops in to take a look around. Goldstein has decorated his home with many Frayed Knot purchases including a coffee table, ‘60s recliner, kitchen table and chairs and vintage soapbox derby race car that hangs from his living room ceiling.
“I like that you can customize,” Goldstein says. “If the lines are good but the upholstery’s off, they help me customize it. I like the ‘50s and ‘60s. That’s the period with a little edge to it. It has that industrial vibe.”
Goldstein also caught the guys’ appearances on “Storage Wars: New York”.
“I watched the first two episodes,” Goldstein says. “I thought they were engaging and entertaining in the way they approached the process. Knowing them, it’s all natural. There’s nothing forced.”
Tad, who was a sales manager for Progressive insurance for several years, says he learned to reinvent things from his childhood in New Mexico and his grandparents’ influences.
“If we didn’t have it, we made it,” Eaton says. “I grew up with that in my blood. My grandparents came out of hard times. They came through the dust bowl. My grandfather was always finding pocket knives buried in the dirt. He used to say, ‘Keep your nose to the ground, you never know what you’re going to find’.”
“Storage Wars: New York”
Tues at 10 pm
For more info and to view episodes, go to: www.aetv.com