The three Rs of good environmental stewardship — reduce, reuse, recycle — has gained an unofficial U addendum in recent years: Upcycling. This growing movement, which involves the transformation of castoff materials and furniture into artistic home décor, has found a home at several stores around town. But the Nook, a new store coming to REO Town in May, will be the first local shop completely dedicated to the craft.
Co-owner/operators Trevor Hoover and Lindsay Leonard are putting the finishing touches on the space, 1136 ½ S. Washington Ave., next door to Vintage Junkies. It’s a spinoff of the duo’s Junk in the Trunk online venture, which itself is a spinoff of Hoover’s Haslett-based recycling business, Reclaimed by Design. They’re shooting for a May 1 opening, and have to make some hard decisions about what’s going to be on the sales floor come opening day.
“Right now, our home is wall-to-wall with all the furniture we’re preparing for sale,” Hoover said. “It’s very hectic.”
In 2010, Hoover took over the Meridian Township Transfer Station recycling center, which became Reclaimed by Design. As more stuff came in, he and Leonard tried to be inventive with some of the bigger items, and in 2013, Junk in the Trunk was born. When someone brings in scrap wood or a discarded piece of furniture, Hoover and Leonard will pull it aside and refinish it. They’ve also started doing custom orders, such as giving a Batman theme to an old dresser.
“Lindsay’s the real talent,” Hoover says. “She takes these things that people are just throwing away and uses her design powers to transform them into these new, vibrant pieces. And people love it.”
Hoover and Leonard scour the flea market circuit and secondhand furniture fairs. At just 350 square feet, the Nook more than lives up to its name. But it’s a foothold in REO Town’s mini-thrift district, which includes Vintage Junkies next door, Thriftique across the street and the recently renovated St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store a couple blocks north.
(Speaking of thrift, Metro Retro is opening soon in Old Town — more details on that soon.)
For his part, Hoover thinks the upcycling trend can be chalked up to a combination of Metro Lansing’s devotion to supporting new art and the post-recession mood of being frugal.
“There’s something that’s just so desirable about owning something old that wasn’t mass produced and has a lot of usefulness left in it,” Hoover said. “Recycling and reusing old things is beneficial to everyone in that it keeps more (trash) from accumulating. There’s also something to owning something unique. That’s what we take pride in.”
BAD Brewing Co. in Mason was conceived without a kitchen when it opened in July 2012, and its current expansion plans have no plans to change that.
“We’re happy with what we’re doing and wouldn’t change stuff if we could,” said owner/brewer Brian Rasdale. “Staying small is the way that we’ve always operated our business, and any growth we can manage we want to keep in line with the original vision.”
That vision includes little more than a comfortable place to sit and a friendly environment in which to consume BAD’s signature beers, all brewed on-site. The business has struck up a friendly, synergistic relationship with the farm-to-plate themed food truck Good Bites, enabling customers to enjoy food Tuesday through Saturday without the need to dedicate kitchen/prep space. But Rasdale said an expansion wasn’t really a choice.
“It’s getting to the point on Fridays and Saturdays where we’re so busy that people are walking in, seeing how busy it is, and leaving because we’re too full,” he said. “That’s not really how I want to be known.”
Last May, Rasdale purchased the building next door. A knickknack store was set up there at the time, but it closed shortly after Rasdale closed on the space, and it’s sat mostly vacant since then. Last week, he closed BAD to conduct construction work, punching a 9-foot doorway between the two spaces and two “windows” in the wall. A new cement-top bar is in the works, as well as new table seats.
“That new space has a nice feel, with the hardwood floor and the exposed brick,” Rasdale says.
“We’re going to be able to expand from 49 to almost 80 (seats for customers). It’s going to make a lot of people happy.”
When the dust settles, BAD will take up about 2,600 square feet inside the historic building, which was built in 1869. He said the work would cost about $60,000 to complete. Next up: a beer garden tentatively planned for the back. But Rasdale insists it’s about the beer, not the money.
“I’m not a big money guy,” Rasdale says. “I like to say that we’re the family that has to save to go to Disneyland.”
BAD Brewing Co. 440 S. Jefferson St., Mason 3-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday; noon-midnight Friday-Saturday; noon-10 p.m. Sunday (517) 676-7664, badbrewing.com