Vintage furniture shop
Reform Objects opened a storefront location for a well-edited selection of vintage furniture at 2620 N. Milwaukee Avenue just a week and a half ago. The store features primarily Mid-Century furniture (photo right), and also has some late 1970s furniture, the occasional 1940s Art Deco/Art Moderne, or any other clean-lined treasure that may catch the eye of owner Cintia Kruschke.
I’m so excited about this addition to Milwaukee Avenue, and not just because I found something for myself, nor even because on my first visit I met a neighbor who regularly reads this blog (hi Courtney).
I think the store is transformative for this stretch of Milwaukee Avenue.
Passion and business mix
Cintia has such a passion for her work, and, it would appear, good business sense.
She has a background in retail and an art history education. She has already built up a business and a following at Reform Objects on-line, where–with it all so new–“About” still reads, “One day I’ll have a showroom but for now it’s whatever free space I find.” Bringing this experience bodes well for the success of the bricks and mortar business.
She was particular about the location she chose, wanting to be close to the square, and she was diligent in making sure the rent was right so she could make a go of the showroom. She’s already utilizing the increasingly rare deep retail display windows to good advantage and has plans for even better visual merchandising to draw us into the store on a regular basis to view what’s new.
For Cintia, the thrill is in the hunt and the joy is in making others’ homes happy with her finds. Her current favorite in the shop is the chrome, rosewood and white formica sideboard in the back of the store (photo above doesn’t really do it justice).
Some of her finds are in vintage condition and don’t require much additional attention to sell themselves. Others require some TLC. When it’s necessary, Cintia enjoys the job of refinishing wood, but she has learned to farm out the re-upholstering to someone with a better temperament for it. She’s got a good source, though, that brings to the upholstered pieces an attention to the detail that Cintia clearly has an eye for (photo below).
Besides bringing a head for business to Milwaukee Avenue, I believe Cintia is on to some new directions in retail.
One of those is the idea of sharing space with other businesses that have a synergy, sometimes in ways you might not imagine. I read about one example of this, a men’s clothing store and a flower shop that shared a storefront. The flower shop enhanced the decor and presentation of the men’s shop, and men were the primary customers for both businesses. Shared space, shared rent, shared opportunity for profitable businesses.
Cintia already has had someone bring in a rack of vintage clothing because of course they might share customers with similar sensibilities. She’d also like to bring in some ceramics that complement the aesthetics of the store, but she’s being careful to take it slow and make it right for the business.
One of the most exciting things about the store to me is one of the most obvious: that it’s creating a second (third, etc.) life for good quality furniture. In our throw-away society, I appreciate quality, lasting items, cared for over a long time–classic clothing, well-built furniture and sturdy houses, for example. Much of my own furniture is inherited, hand-me-down or purchased resale, and I don’t think I’d ever buy a new construction home. This is both a frame of mind and a form of greentailing (also see Lessons from the Dill Pickle Food Coop: Greentailing).
And finally, while Reform Objects is a retail shop for consumption, the business is also a producer of the goods sold there. It’s literally transformative, taking furniture and changing its appearance or condition to create an object transformed for consumption.
The producer component of the business jives with my hope for Milwaukee Avenue having offices (producing services) above the retail stores, but takes it one step closer by combining the consumption and production functions. Transformative.