Thomas Gromme has been a jewelry appraiser, a property manager, the owner of a retail establishment and a higher education administrator. He’s even sold antiques and renovated old homes. That route along the road of life finally led to the fulfillment of a longtime dream: joining Southeastern Galleries as a designer.
“Interior design has been a passion of mine ever since I was a little kid,” Thomas, a California native, says. “My dad was in the military, and we moved around a lot, so it became second nature for me to arrange my room as soon as we moved into a new place. Later, in college, I had my own apartment, and I always furnished it nicely.”
He has gained a wealth of experience that now serves him well in the world of interior design. For example, he was responsible for coordinating general maintenance and major repairs for four homes in the Los Angeles area and also managed renovation work on an older home, buying all the furniture and working with the architect and contractor.
Thomas bought and renovated his first home in downtown Charleston, an historic residence on Tradd Street, a quarter of a century ago. He’s done the same with two additional homes in the Holy City since.
“I understand how the Board of Architectural Review works,” he says.
He also interacted with several designers during his home-renovation days, “picking up training on the more technical aspects of design.” Co-owning and operating an antique retail store on King Street in Charleston, where he sold furniture and other items, was a plus as well. He inventoried all merchandise and traveled to Europe to purchase antique furniture on a regular basis, all the while garnering the retail sales experience he would need to succeed in his new job at Southeastern Galleries.
“I was very comfortable in the furniture world,” Thomas says. “And I always admired Southeastern and the companies they represent because it’s a family business. The whole setting is very attractive to me. I feel like I’ll do really well.”
What does Thomas like best about his new position with Southeastern Galleries?
“I like the interaction with people and being able to talk to them and get involved in how they’re arranging a room or replacing furniture,” he says. “I find that very entertaining, and it challenges my skills. It’s really rewarding to be able to help them find the right furniture for their specific needs.”
He adds that the most important aspect of his job is listening – being receptive to his clients “and being able to provide them something from our store that meets their needs.”
Thomas earned a degree in business administration at Georgia State University, and he also is a graduate of the Gemological Institute of America. In his spare time, he enjoys riding his bike across the Arthur Ravenel Bridge and spending time at the beach. H also practices meditation and yoga every day and has worked as a volunteer with the Veterans Administration.