EVERETT — Call it a window of opportunity.
Three years ago, the Boeing Store obtained 16 airplane windows from a decommissioned Boeing 747. Employees decided to polish the pieces and sell them as home decor.
“We thought we had enough supply for a year, but we sold out in a day,” said Madia Logan, the Boeing Store marketing manager.
All of a sudden, the Boeing Store had a new line of business.
The company decided to work with artisans to create a line of furnishings and decor made from aircraft parts. Now the Boeing Store offers more than 100 mainly high-end items under a product line called Custom Hangar.
The pieces include a chair made from an F-4 Phantom II ejection seat that retails for $19,500; a conference table made from slats of a 727-200 wing that goes for $18,000; and even a wine bar made from a 727 airliner rear-mounted jet engine offered at $10,500.
While those pieces are out of reach for most households, the Boeing Store has also added some more affordable options.
One is a ballpoint pen with the Boeing logo made with a circuit-breaker tab as the pusher. That sells for $50. Another option is a $55 wallet made from the leather of a 737 seat.
The Boeing Store, which has six public locations, including one at the Future of Flight at 8415 Paine Field in Everett, has seen impressive growth in sales for the unique items, Logan said. Sales doubled the first year after they put those 747 windows on sale.
This past year, the stores saw a third more growth than the year before.
“We’re just building the recognition and awareness that we have these products,” Logan said.
About 90 percent of the items come off decommissioned aircraft, said Gerardo Mores, a buyer for the Boeing Store. The company also looks for surplus aircraft parts wherever available.
In fact, Mores flew to Florida to meet a collector of warplanes who had a warehouse filled with aircraft parts. He purchased two wooden crates filled with four untouched B-17 Flying Fortress propellers. The crates even contained the original typed work order, Mores said.
“It was a kind of a ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ experience where we’re opening up this mysterious box,” Mores said.
The propellers were finished with a smoke-colored powder coating and attached to a base to serve as what’s being marketed as an “impressive display for the home or office.”
The store also picks through its own surplus aircraft parts at Boeing, although nothing has been used to make any items yet, Mores said.
The high-end furnishings is a departure for the Boeing Store, which started out years ago as small employee convenience stores that sold aspirin, magazines and a limited selection of logo souvenirs. Fifteen years ago, Boeing centralized all company stores under a new subsidiary, Boeing Store Inc.
For the most part, these stores only sold trinkets and other smaller items, such T-shirts, books and model airplanes. Now the Boeing Store is getting a handle on marketing 727 engine coffee tables.
The Custom Hangar pieces can be purchased at any of the Boeing Stores or online and through Amazon.
Logan said the company would also consider working with high-end retailers in the future.
Several artisans from around the country work with the Boeing Store to refurbish and finish by hand these products.
And the pieces that started it all off, the airplane windows are now in stock, including a $695 747-100 window called the Joe Sutter edition after the head of the 747 program who later came to be called the “Father of the 747.”
To see the pieces of aviation history, visit one of the public Boeing Stores, go to www.BoeingStore.com.