It all started with an online vintage store, an energetic friend, and a family connection in a reawakening business district.
In late October, Amy McMeeken opened her dream business in REO Town, inspired by friend and co-owner Aimee Macklin. Dubbed Vintage Junkies,
the 900-square foot retail space brings vintage clothing, home décor, hand-painted furniture and jewelry to the previous Kwast American Bakeries at 1829 S. Washington.
"Vintage Junkies is something I've wanted to do for many years," says McMeeken. "When I met Aimee, we realized we loved to do the same kinds of things. Being the little go-getter she is, she managed to get us a store very fast."
The two business partners set out to recreate McMeeken's Etsy site from the ground up within the 1,500-square-foot Kwast facility. McMeeken says the space held a special connection for both her and Macklin. Both grew up in Lansing. Both live in REO Town. And Macklin herself had spent time in the Kwast bakery as a child, watching her aunt decorate cakes.
"I felt a brick-and-mortar store was more what I was looking for rather than simply an on-line presence," says McMeeken. "It gives you more opportunity to have larger items, and it's a place where we can both be creative."
McMeeken and Macklin share a passion for giving new life to old things. As part of prepping the old bakery for retail and work space, the two built merchandising displays from discarded items, including a dress form from a floor lamp and chicken wire, a wall display for scarves made from a box spring, and antique license plates connected together to form a lampshade.
"We plan to do a lot of our artwork on site," says McMeeken. "We also want to eventually add classroom space for art and photography, and even a coffee shop."
For the time being, McMeeken will continue repurposing items and curating merchandise from estate sales, auctions and donations. She also plans to connect with more local artists and provide opportunities for exhibits, displays and sale of artisan items.
"I love this side of town," says McMeeken. "I'm a GM baby, and my dad used to work down here. We love the history. We love that it's still really raw and new. It's fun to be a part of it."
Source: Amy McMeeken, Co-owner, Vintage Junkies
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor