Lily Grace Brings New Life to Hidden Treasures
What's old is new again at LilyGrace on Central, thanks to the creative vision of Fort Dodge native Laurie Hagey.
"We're Pinterest in person," said Hagey, who opened her business in November of 2011. "We recycle, re-imagine and re-purpose vintage furniture, architectural and farm salvage, and anything else in which we can see 'something else.'"
Hagey and her friends scour estate sales, auctions and other venues around the region to find distinctive items ranging from barn doors to metal wagon wheels. "We shop Iowa," said Hagey, who named LilyGrace after her pet dogs. "We're like Fort Dodge's American Pickers."
While Iowans have always been very practical and utilitarian, that doesn't mean items like dishes, egg baskets and furniture can't provide ready-made dcor or be transformed into unique statement pieces.
"Where others may see old things that are shabby, used up and worn out, we see the treasure hidden behind chipped paint and worn edges," Hagey said. "Most of our pieces are re-purposed, which means once they were something, and now they're something else. We also have a treasure-trove of things-some people would call it junk-just waiting for people to put their own creative stamp on."
Inspiration abounds at Lily Grace
All it takes is imagination, Hagey said. "When I see a pretty vanity, for example, it's fun to think about where it began its life. Was it a gift from a father to his beloved daughter, or was it the first piece of furniture a newlywed couple purchased together? Whatever its history, it deserves a make-over and a brand new life."
From time to time LilyGrace offers classes where customers can try new things, learn new skills and make new friends among a community of budding artists. Even if class isn't in session, the coffee's always on, there's a huge stack of home decorating magazines and books to browse, and there's always something being reimagined in the back room, Hagey said.
"We don't profess to know everything about re-purposing old things, but we're happy to share what we do know and learn along with you," Hagey said.
Downtown offers a perfect fit
The benefits of recycling and repurposing extend beyond the shop walls at LilyGrace, said Hagey, who is proud to help revitalize downtown Fort Dodge.
"I grew up in the community and can remember when downtown was filled with thriving businesses like the Boston Store, Fantels and the Rialto Theater. The downtown area's historic buildings are tailor-made for specialty shops, and they are the perfect reuse for our city core."
Hagey, who has served customers from as far away as Idaho and beyond, praises the Market on Central for helping attract more people downtown. She's excited about keeping the momentum going.
"If you love old things, LilyGrace offers a store full of treasures. We're proud to recycle things that are local to Iowa, because it's our history we're saving."
LilyGrace is located at 521 Central Avenue and is open Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, log onto www.lilygraceoncentral.com.