ELYRIA — The art of taking something others would see as old, dated or unusable and turning it into a piece of functioning furniture is something Carrin Andress has made her life’s work for close to 20 years.
Andress has turned her passion into a lucrative business that has survived numerous moves, even though Andress only opens the doors to Chic Unique once a month to show off her inventory of hand- worked furnishings. Andress is busy in her studio the rest of the month.
With each change, Andress’ faithful customer base has basically stalked her sales events, even lining the street outside her newest location on Middle Avenue when she held one of her infamous sales.
“I love that aside from a few pieces that sometimes carry over from sales, I typically have an entirely new stock each sale,” Andress said. “My customers love my in-the-rough-and-beyond refurbishing pieces that I find because they know when I set out to work on them, I will turn it into something great.”
The Elyria business owner is set to use her next sale 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday to benefit efforts to deter downtown crime.
Andress moved into the location in the fall and soon became aware of a problem that the businesses on this street have been experiencing.
People were often breaking into the buildings and stealing copper from the air conditioning units.
As a working solution, building owners and tenants have been asked to provide a small amount of money to go toward the installation of a gate that would block access to the alley leading to their businesses.
The alley does not have any vehicle traffic and dead-ends behind several buildings on Middle Avenue.
“I felt that there was a real need for the gate,” Andress said. “A gate would provide much-needed safety for the tenants of the building.”
However, some of the businesses on Middle Avenue and Broad Street would not put any money toward the gate. That’s when Main Street Elyria, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the revitalization of downtown Elyria, decided to step in and gave the business owners on the two streets the rest of the money they needed.
“This is about promoting a safe and inviting downtown for residents and business owners,” said Tamela Grubb, executive director. “It’s about changing the perception about coming downtown. This alley has the potential of becoming an extension of the businesses on the block if it is used in the right way.”
The 8-feet-high gate is going up and will be situated between two 11-feet posts. The plans for the gate have been in the works for weeks but a recent theft of copper sped things up.
An appreciative Andress wanted to help pay it forward, so to speak, for the nonprofit.
So she decided to take her antique refurbishment business and gather a few other antique and jewelry vendors for a sale. The vendors paid a fee to Andress to participate. All of the proceeds from the vendors will go to pay back Main Street Elyria.
“I really appreciated the way Main Street Elyria was able to step in and give us the money needed to build the gate,” Andress said. “This sale is just a way to pay them back.”