Eventually we decided that if we were going to keep bringing home these treasures, we had better sort and organize them so we would know what we had and could use them in our creations. As we worked, I soon realized we would never be able to use so many neat things ourselves and I would need to share them.
Lu’s Collections became a reality!
Since organizing all of the cool things we’d accumulated and getting them on display, we’ve learned more about our customers’ favorites, so we’ve kept our eye out for opportunities to find some of those popular items at auctions and elsewhere to add to our inventory.
Neither Larry, nor I, have as much time as we’d like to create with the things we want to, so a few years ago we hired our neighbor, Brian, to be our ThingMaker. We can now go to Brian with our ideas, often adding his own special touches. That way we can continue to be creative in the planning and design, while someone else who’s talented carries out the actual assembly of the project.
This is a really fun business we’ve gotten ourselves into. I dearly love all my trinkets and gadgets that I’ve collected, but have more than I’ll ever be able to use. I love meeting and brainstorming with customers and find that their enthusiasm is contagious. I’m often just as excited as they are when they leave here with a head full of ideas, a trinket, an armload, or a truckload of treasures. I love re-homing items so they will have another life with someone who is as passionate about them as I am!
As a kid growing up in a rural community in Southern Wisconsin, I loved scavenging bits of this and that and challenging myself to make something out of them. It seemed like people were always throwing out such cool and still useful items. So, in a way, I suppose you could say I was repurposing before repurposing was actually a “thing”. To me, it just seemed like common sense to not waste things.
My Mom didn’t really agree with my collecting habits and things found their way back in the trash more often than not. (I have a short attention span and always meant to get back to things!) To this day though, I don’t like this throw away world we live in.
Early in our relationship, Larry was manager of a 24 hour restaurant here in Sparta and after a few jobs of my own and the loss of my driver’s license for health reasons, I became a stay-at-home Mom to our three children and did full time home day care and foster care.
When Larry got out of the restaurant biz, he had so much extra time on his hands, he decided we’d buy and remodel homes for rentals. With this background experience of remodeling, we can truly understand and identify with our clients wanting to update their homes, and now with the enormous inventory, we have on hand, we almost always have something customers will enjoy using in their projects.
While Larry deals mostly with the larger wood and materials sales and with our flooring, wall and ceiling materials, and custom furniture orders, I’ve found a niche I really enjoy, working with a vast inventory of antiques and collectibles and rusty treasures I’ve loved collecting over the years.
From the deconstruction jobs we were doing, we brought home all the “extras” we found in the properties. We’d find old tools, hinges, door track and rollers, etc. in some of the barns, light fixtures, drawers and doors, medicine cabinets, and stuff left behind in the old houses – things I could see had potential for reuse. Generally, without a lot of time or adequate space to display any of these items, they wound up in a pile of boxes, totes, tubs and buckets in our basement.