A Repurposed Life
“There’s so much here that sometimes they come in, and they’re overwhelmed,” she says. “They have to come back a few times just to digest it all.”
Beckler, a retired Lorain City Schools teacher, and her daughter, Amy Cseh, opened their first City Salvage & Design location three years ago in Mentor with the contents of a shuttered antique store. “We both very much enjoy refurbishing and repurposing,” Beckler says. Much of their subsequent stock — doors, windows, porch posts, banisters, moldings, etc. — was provided by Cseh’s Maximus Consulting, a Mentor-based business whose services include building demolition. Beckler notes that many of those structures contained abandoned furniture, too. Business was so brisk that they opened the Amherst operation last year. Today their wares are acquired primarily from “pickers” (those who search for salvage but don’t want to handle retail sales) and families looking to downsize or liquidate a deceased relative’s estate.
“We don’t take just anything,” Beckler cautions. The list of things she and Cseh won’t buy include clothing, upholstered furniture and appliances.
City Salvage & Design also helps clients turn finds into functional pieces with its custom design services. Beckler gives the example of the young woman who came into the shop with a century-old leaded-glass door from her grandmother’s farmhouse. “She wanted the door as a keepsake, but she wanted to use it,” she remembers. The door became the back of a bookcase built by shop staff, which consists mostly of family members such as Beckler’s husband, Doug, a retired business manager for Lorain City Schools and Oberlin City Schools.
“We’ve always done this kind of stuff, but not to this degree,” Beckler says when asked how they acquired their skills.
The shop also offers classes taught by staffers and other experts in everything from refinishing and rewiring to making wreathes and candles. Classes generally are limited to 5 to 15 people and priced at $35 to $95 per person.
Beckler admits she’s had trouble parting with pieces over the last three years. She singles out a painting of a horse-drawn carriage she still regrets selling. “The power and the emotion of the painting was unbelievable,” she raves. “I didn’t have time to research it — it was significantly old. We set it down in the shop, and someone picked it up and wanted to buy it.” But the next gotta-have-it item — hers or her customers’ — is just waiting to be discovered, perhaps in the three big trucks she’s helping unload or during meetings with potential suppliers scheduled for later in the week.
“You just never know what you’ll find,” she says.