Real Estate, Retail, and Small Business & Startups

New vintage décor store opens in Alger Heights

Husband and wife bring love of farmhouse finds and industrial salvage to life.

May 20, 2016
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Reinspired Treasures
Reinspired Treasures had more than 200 people come through the door on the first night it opened in the Alger Heights Business District. Courtesy Jay Brooks

Anyone looking for an eclectic mix of vintage décor, farmhouse finds, industrial salvage, rusted metal and artisan creations from West Michigan artists need look no further than the newly opened Reinspired Treasures in Alger Heights.

The store is owned and run by husband-and-wife team Jay and Barbara Brooks, empty-nesters who say they have always been interested in having this kind of a business.

The 2,800-square-foot store at 2417 Eastern Ave. SE held a grand opening celebration May 5.

“It was great. We had 70 people waiting at the door when we opened — more than 200 people through the door the first night we opened. It was amazing,” said Jay Brooks.

“Down the road, we could see ourselves opening another business. We’ve been talking about the possibility of franchising as we grow this brand. I think the unique thing is we’re mixing the vintage with (work from) local artisans. At the same time, we’re mixing it with our own products, both vintage and new merchandise.”

Reinspired Treasures features unique vintage pieces that have been “re-inspired” by the Brookses and a number of pieces from various West Michigan vendors.

“We actually travel all over — mostly Michigan … but we travel to vintage markets and buy stuff from vintage markets around the state, and then we go to estate sales, and we’re just starting to have people who are picking stuff to bring it to us,” he said.

“We will definitely accept consignment items as long as it fits the overall theme of our store.”

The Brookses have partnered with Tom and Becky VanRavenswaay from Holland, who help manage the store.

“They have another business where Tom makes furniture and home décor items out of recycled and reclaimed materials, and then they also make wooden toys for children — Swaay Boardworks … and Bug Guts Wood Toys,” Brooks said. “They’ve been friends (of ours) for years.”

The Brookses are no strangers to Alger Heights, having lived in the area from 1988-1998. Those 10 years left a good impression on them and now they hope their store, located next to Real Food Café and just across from Ken’s Market, will have a positive impact on the area.

“Alger Heights is the perfect location for a store like Reinspired Treasures. We're bringing to the community the reclaimed, reused and recycled home décor items they desire and are currently driving to the outskirts of the city to find,” he said.

“We always liked the Alger Heights area, in particular. Right now, it appears to be in a nice upswing with a lot of young families moving in, and we live very close, only five minutes away. … When looking for a store, we wanted something close and in town. When this space opened up, we jumped on it. It was an international market before us.”

The Brookses have always enjoyed shopping in vintage stores, especially whenever they travelled to little towns or resort communities, he said. “It’s the eclectic way we decorate our home,” he said, adding, “We like to have stuff that comes with a story as we decorate our house.”

Jay Brooks worked in marketing and advertising for Family Christian Stores for about 10 years, before starting Affinity Marketing Services, which provides marketing services for small businesses and nonprofits.

Starting a vintage home décor business felt natural to the couple.

“We started two and half years ago with a booth at an antique market (Pinky’s Place, 4790 Alpine Ave. NW), and we mixed it with reclaimed items like furniture, industrial finds, farmhouse finds, home décor, vintage kitchen-type items. … When we started our business, we planned all along that it was something that would grow into a store. I branded it right away.”

In September 2014, the Brookses opened a second booth at Lost and Found Treasures of Old and New, 445 Century Ave. SW in downtown Grand Rapids. That space had more of an industrial mix of products, he said. Then in the fall of 2015, they opened a third booth at Vintage Plus More, 2455 29th St. SE.

“That kind of grew into a place where we were ready to open a store,” he said.

“I think we generally pick items to put into our booths that would be things we would have in our home … stuff we would want ourselves. I think that translated into people liking our stuff. Plus, I think we have an eye for being able to take items you can look at and show people how to merchandise them in their homes for decorations.”

Shoppers are looking for ways to mark their own style in meaningful ways, he said, and that often means decorating their homes with items that have history, character and a story.

“I think the whole lifestyle in our society right now is just figuring out a way to reuse and recycle items, and I think this type of product really encourages that. People are excited about taking old items — even rusty old things out on a farm junk pile — and turning it into something that has a story and place in their home,” Brooks said.

“People are tired of the cookie-cutter lifestyle and more interested in creating a unique and signature style in their home with Old World things with a story and New World things that are practical.”

Reinspired Treasures is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Tue., Wed. and Fri.; 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Thu.; 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sat.; and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sun.

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