Given the choice of thrifting at a flea market or visiting a shopping mall, I’ll always choose the former. I was in my element browsing the aisles and piles of Black Dog Salvage during my spring visit to Roanoke, Va., seeking a treasure with personality to add to my home.
Oh, boy. I sure wish I had driven up to Virginia, then again, my retirement account is grateful I didn’t, because there were reclaimed treasures begging to come home with me. The first thing I eyed walking up to the salvage yard entrance was the statue of a life-sized, concrete pig spray painted colors of purple and gold.
“I need that for my yard,” a little voice said inside my head.
Big, chocolate-colored eyes and a wagging tail greeted me into Black Dog Salvage. Fans of the reality television show “Salvage Dawgs” would recognize this personable pooch. She’s Sally, a black Labrador retriever and one of the co-stars on the DIY network’s show.
Mike Whiteside, co-owner of the salvage yard and one of the show’s TV stars, said “Salvage Dawgs” has doubled the yard’s business and tripled the employees. More people are visiting the 44,000-square-foot facility, or as Whiteside called it, “a reality TV museum,” and many are taking home a piece of pop culture in the form of salvage yard swag. Because of the national appeal, Black Dog Salvage expanded to online sales of its architectural antiques and custom designs.
“We’re not Wal-Mart, what we have is one of a kind,” Whiteside said. In addition to the architectural antiques he and his crew rescue from old buildings destined to junkyards, about 30 consignors sell their goods at Black Dog Salvage.
Indeed, most everything I found was unique. There were old metal signs kissed with a seasoning of rust, stained glass reclaimed from churches, and furniture made with classic car parts.
Looking at the economic benefits, the reality TV show has introduced a new stream of visitors to this Blue Ridge Mountain community. This means a new revenue source when visitors not only spend money at the salvage yard but when they dine in restaurants, stay in hotels and take in the local sites.
Nothing says old school more than visiting a salvage yard and that’s what I did. Not only is Black Dog Salvage a pretty nifty place to find architectural treasures that were most likely destined for the junkyard, it’s a piece of living pop culture, which I totally dig.
What did I bring back from Black Dog Salvage? Photos, memories and bragging rights from meeting Sally. Maybe someday I’ll drive so I can bring back something truly amazing for my home.
Do you watch “Salvage Dawgs” or have you visited Black Dog Salvage?
Black Dog Salvage
902 13th Street SW
Roanoke, VA 24016
The shop is open Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.