Secondhand store in North Lawrence features eclectic mix of new and old items

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World photo

Michele Johnson opened her North Lawrence secondhand shop Reclaimed by Michele in late December 2020.

Finally, I have found a piano I’m qualified to play. Its keys are frozen and its upper cabinet has been converted into a wine rack. It is one of the items in North Lawrence’s new secondhand shop, Reclaimed by Michele.

Owner Michele Johnson says the shop at 628 N. Second St. will be a place to find slightly funky items that have been reclaimed in new ways. The piano is an example of that. But Johnson said the store wouldn’t paint itself into a corner by focusing only on vintage items or only on the offbeat finds.

“I want it to be an eclectic mix of all things new and old,” Johnson said.

It was that broad vision that gave Johnson fits when she was trying to come up with a name for the shop, which is just a block north of the railroad overpass and next door to the Uplift Coffee Shop. She knew she wanted her name in the shop’s name because quite a few folks are familiar with her after she spent nearly a dozen years managing the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Lawrence.

“For a while, though, I thought I was going to have to call it Michele’s Lost Her Marbles,” she said. “I was going crazy.”

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World photo

A combination piano/wine rack is one of the items at Reclaimed by Michele, pictured in January 2021.

She landed on Reclaimed by Michele because it adequately describes the vintage side of the business but also the desire to get into the outlet business, reselling new items from other retailers that have had to get rid of inventory. For example, she recently attended an auction of a Sutherlands home improvement center that was going out of business. That’s why Reclaimed currently has a shelf full of brand new faucets.

Down the line, she hopes to add a small hardware section to the shop to save North Lawrence residents from having to cross the river to get a basic nut or bolt, she said.

In the meantime, a mix of items is already available for people to explore, including vintage dining room tables and chairs; antique light fixtures; tons of wall art; memorabilia; old kitchen pots and pans; and seemingly random new items, like a bin full of basketballs or cartons of casters, the wheeled devices that you put on the bottom of cabinets, tool chests or other things you want to roll around.

There is even a jar full of marbles. (She didn’t lose them, but will sell them to you.)

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World photo

Reclaimed by Michele aims to carry a mix of old and new items, like vintage dishes and a scooter, pictured above, plus new wine stoppers and pet toys, also shown above.

Johnson said that when her time ended at the Habitat ReStore, she realized she missed dealing with people, and she particularly missed dealing with the assortment of items in a store like that. She said watching people interact with the items was rewarding. She said sometimes people simply are looking for an accent piece for the home, while others are looking for something less defined.

“They are just looking for memorable treasures,” she said. “They see something and it reminds them of a good time from the past.”

Others, she said, just need something. Such utility seekers also are among the people the store hopes to serve.

“I like the idea of figuring out how to use something instead of just throwing it away,” Johnson said.

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World photo

Reclaimed by Michele in North Lawrence, 628 N. Second St., stocks an eclectic variety of items.

Johnson gets much of her store’s inventory through a network of friends and partners who go to auctions and estate sales and just generally have an eye for interesting stuff, she said. When she can, she likes joining in the search too.

“I love the materials,” she said. “I love old iron. I’m so excited when I get to go through what I call a rusted, metal graveyard.”

Johnson opened the shop in late December. She said business has been good.

“I don’t know exactly what is driving it, but there is a lot of repurposing and reusing in this community,” she said.

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World photo

Reclaimed by Michele has renovated a portion of a former contractor’s building into new retail space. The business at 628 N. Second St. is about a block north of the railroad overpass in North Lawrence.


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