By Laura McAlister
To James E. “Jim” Davis, one man’s trash truly is another’s treasure.
That’s why over the years, he’s gotten the nickname “the Twig Kid.” The 73-year-old collects twigs and discarded wood to create one-of-a-kind tables.
He’s been selling them at Prime Time Treasures in Homewood for some 10 years. Patrons there also agree that what some have discarded and thrown away have become treasures thanks Jim’s handiwork.
“We call them our twig tables, and people are just wild about them,” said Liz Judd, who is in charge of the shop that’s one of the Assistance League of Birmingham’s three charities. “They’re just really beautiful and so unique.”
Jim, a military and Delta Airlines retiree, is one of about 400 senior citizens who sell their crafts at the store on Oxmoor Road. As is true for many of the seniors involved with the shop, Jim said it’s a way to stay busy after retirement while also making a little money.
Prime Time Treasures also offers shoppers unique crafts, all made by hand and made in Alabama.
“It gives me something to do, and it keeps me happy,” Jim said of building his twig tables for Prime Time Treasures. “It’s really something I do for my grandchildren. I have eight of them. I give the money to them, just for spending money.”
Jim makes the twig tables from his home in Altadena. For the table legs, he prefers to use crape myrtle, especially the wood that’s a little more red and brown than white. For the table tops, he likes to use cedar, but it depends on what he can find.
He said the tables take about half a day to make, and any given week he spends about 10 hours working on them. They’ve become so popular he now has people call him when they see scraps of wood on the road that might be suitable for one of his creations.
“The only thing I have to buy is nails, screws, glue and saw blades, lots of saw blades,” he said. “There’s really not a whole lot into it. I come from the generation where we don’t believe in just throwing things away.”
Jim, like the other craftsmen who contribute to Prime Time Treasures, comes from a generation where goods were actually made by hand instead of purchased at a store or online.
That’s what makes shopping at Prime Time Treasures such a unique experience, Liz said.
Jim’s twig tables are just some of hundreds of crafts sold at the store.
Prime Time Treasures has handmade toys like dollhouses, fire trucks and rocking horses. They even have one crafter who sews American Girl doll-sized clothing. The store has all sorts of furniture, artwork and jewelry as well as knit potholders, scarves and gloves.
During the holidays, it’s a place to pick up unique Christmas decorations like stockings and ornaments.
“The things you get here are just things you can’t get anywhere else,” Liz said.
The Assistance League of Birmingham opened the craft shop in 1977 as a way to help talented seniors sell their crafts for additional income. A percentage of sales goes to the cost of running the shop, while the rest goes back to the seniors.
Over the years, more than $3.7 million has been paid to the senior craftsmen.
Prime Time Treasures is open to all artists over the age of 50. Liz said those interested in selling at the shop just have to make an appointment to show their work and fill out paperwork and discuss pricing.
Jim, who found out about the shop from a friend, said making his twig tables has turned into a great hobby, and one that helps support his family. It’s also helped him make a few friends.
“The people here are just really great,” he said. “They invite us for a meal two times a year and really go all out. You really meet some sweet people, and everything here is made in America, and they are good quality things.”
For more information about Prime Time Treasures or the Assistance League of Birmingham, call 870-5555 or visit www.assistanceleaguebhm.org.