Pedro Caro works in a tiny shop in central Beaverton performing upholstery magic.  At Pedro’s Upholstery, 12655 SW 1st Street, he can take an old couch or chair with torn fabric and tired batting and make it look better than it did when it was new. It’s an old-fashioned kind of business involving working with your hands, your eyes, your considered and 

thoughtful opinion. The work requires cutting, sewing and assembly. He doesn’t advertise. Customers come to him through word of mouth. 

“I take a lot of pride in my work,” Caro says, “I am saving furniture, recycling furniture, playing a part in restoring a family heirloom.“ And apparently his customers agree.  He has nearly flawless ratings on yelp and, year after year, the business continues to flourish, the growth of which is limited entirely by the number of willing and skilled hands that can be found to do the work.

“My biggest battle,” he says, “in the 20 something years that I’ve run the shop, is finding good, consistent help.”

He, himself, started pretty much right out of high school, learning a trade he hoped would help him fulfill a teenage dream but it turned out to be so much more. “I always had an interest in cars,” he says, “That whole hot rider, custom car stuff, and a wonderful gentleman, Clint Vanderhey, had at the time, an ad for a shop helper, so I took him up on that.”  As a child he had watched his mother sewing clothes for the family and he was fascinated by the process of taking a flat piece of cloth making it perfectly fit a three dimensional object.  To this day Caro loves to recover boat seats or create special car interiors.  As busy as he is he says, “if we can do it, we will take on the project.”

After learning what he could in his first job, Caro moved on.  He worked with Robert and Penny Kim, people he describes as a “wonderful couple” at Kim’s Upholstery in Tigard until they retired and Caro bought the business.  It was a risky decision. “My family told me not to do it,” Caro recalls, “but I did. I bought him out.”  He remained in Tigard for another six years until he moved his business to Beaverton.  Though he didn’t realize it at the time, this decision would set the course for the rest of his life.  “I thought I would do it for some time,” 

he says, “but I’m 47 and it’s still going strong.” And Caro is not a man to make a decision lightly.  When he’s in, he’s in.  He bought the building and set about making his business and his family grow.

Oscar and Andres Caro
Oscar (L) and Andres (R) Caro

In all that time there has never been a shortage of orders.  There is always plenty of work to be done.  People are always reaching out to him to ask for his help, so much so that, right now, the shop is booked out three or four months for larger jobs. Caro says, “We might be a tiny shop but we have a good reputation and a strong following.”

The pandemic didn’t slow the pace of orders either.  They found themselves busier than ever. “Many of my wonderful customers who might have been traveling found themselves at home.  They wanted to fix up this couch, that chair, grandma’s favorite chair, family heirlooms.  We got crazy busy,” he says.  At times he says he felt overwhelmed and even considered selling up and moving away.  He didn’t though because his son, Andres, said to him ‘I want to learn. Let’s keep this going.’ “So here we are,” he says. 

It’s better now with Andres helping and through the years all of his four children have helped at one time or another. On the day that I talked to him, another son, Oscar, was also in the shop along with a neighbor that works with Caro part time.  The camaraderie is palpable, they all get along and the work, like the conversation, flows smoothly and gracefully from confidence and a sense of self determination.

“We are grateful for what we have here,” Caro tells me, “we don’t take it for granted.” He says he is proud of the work that he does: making things work again, keeping things out of the landfills and in people’s homes and hearts.  It’s a good place to be.