Stop in to the Workshoppe Nov. 16 – Nov. 24, Black Friday, as well as Small Business Saturday for the Fall Market! We are extremely excited to open up the Workshoppe to local vendors during the beginning of this holiday shopping season. Browse the handmade gifts and home decor made by locals from the area while taking care of some of your shopping list at the same time!!
As the fellas carried out our game plan – remove the ceiling tiles, paneling from the office and gift area, and pull the carpet – we ran into a few roadblocks. There was a fiberboard underlay below the carpet. The installers had nailed this crumbly, wafer-like fiberboard with 8 penny nails roughly every three inches. Removing this was extremely labor-intensive, adding hours to this part of the project and stress concerning the shape of the floors below. These poor floors already had nearly a hundred years’ worth of traffic and abuse, not to mention the hundreds of nail holes from the underlay. All we could do was hope that when the dust cleared, there would be something salvageable underneath.
The tin ceiling looked great on one half of the room. Because the gift area was two different store fronts at one time, the other side had a completely different ceiling. This meant that we would either have to find a suitable match to fill in, or adjust our plan. To make matters worse, the plaster beneath the tin and the paneling on the walls was crumbling in so many places, it almost seemed like it would be more work to try and hold everything together than to just gut it all.
This all started to seem like a bigger job than we had signed up for. What if we started pulling layers of the different series of remodels from the various decades of use and we uncover more problems than we can handle? Anyone that has attempted to remodel an old house or building, anyone that has watched any of those renovation shows on TV (Renovation Realities, for example), anyone that has watched The Money Pit knows, you can quickly bite off more than you can chew. As most of you locals know, we chose to gut. Through the crumbling plaster there was something glimmering as bright as gold. You can see what we saw in the featured image above – something way better than real gold, an original element to the building that could serve as a beautiful focal point (assuming it doesn’t cave in on us hilariously à la Shelley Long and Tom Hanks) – a brick wall. Our bet paid off, better than we could have ever imagined. It helped define the space and exposed an amazing ceiling that was just as good, if not better than the tin ceiling. See photos below.
Now, the ceiling on the other hand, was not in such great shape. Some of the trusses did not survive the stress of numerous roofs over the years (more problems, right?? Of course!). Steele Construction was happy to oblige helping us shore the ceiling up for at least another hundred years. As we began to throw around ceiling ideas, we soon decided that less is more – leave it alone. The old trusses looked great, we would just have to blend the old wood with the new. After some deliberation between the minds, Sarah (Luke’s wife) stained all the new wood to match the tone of the old and blended well.
After the dust cleared, we began to appreciate the surrounding space for something more than we had previously envisioned. We felt good in there. What we had done felt right and it was time to think bigger than before. Yes, we still wanted to have retail space available for the hardware store, but it felt like it should be more than that. We have always wanted to involve the community more in what we do. This seemed like the perfect opportunity. Did we have all of the details figured out? No. We did know that if we were going to involve the public in whatever this space was going to be, we had to make some adjustments to the space. Specifically, the office and lack of an entrance. – LK
The photo you see above the headline is what The Workshoppe used to be. Just past the counter in the front of the store you could step up and shop through our gifts, housewares, and the many re-purposed decor items from Old Things Made New – the moniker employee/manager, April Munson, creates under. If you look closely at the floor, you can see some commercial carpet that Ted installed following our last remodel of this area in the 90’s. At this time, we moved the paint department to where it is today and Sally Kramer (Ted’s wife, my mom) maintained home decor and gifts in this area. The carpet served its purpose valiantly, but was showing its age and was even tearing on one of the steps up.
With a renewed sense of vigor from our new logo and a front end overhaul, we knew we needed to use this momentum to continue updating the store. The main focus was the worn carpet. As we began to plan our attack as a staff, Ted had said that there were wood floors below the tattered carpet, but wasn’t sure exactly what kind of shape they were in. Ted also knew that above the drop-ceiling there was four to five feet of space that may help the room feel less claustrophobic. He even mentioned that the actual ceiling was adorned with tin, but he didn’t think it was in great shape any longer. The possibility of all of these great, original features got all of us excited (if any of you know April, you know that she was hooked the minute the words, “tin” and “ceiling” came out of Ted’s mouth).
Our plan was simple: 1). Take out the drop-ceiling, bringing the ceiling height back to the original height and utilize the existing tin, hopefully only making minor repairs. 2.) Pull the carpet to examine the original flooring underneath, refinish if viable. 3.) A little paint refresher on the walls. 4.) Put housewares, and April’s merchandise back in place. Done! Little did we know that this would lead to much, much more… LK
Over the past year, the southern half of the front of our hardware store underwent a dramatic transformation. The look, the scope, and the concept changed so much from when demolition began to where we’re at now. Reflecting back upon all of those changes, ideas, and circumstances that helped shape the space, it became clear that this wasn’t really where this project truly started. After backing up a few years, the photo above pinpoints the exact beginning of The Workshoppe.
The photo was taken around 2012. We had just reluctantly left the True Value co-op after their freight fees and national advertising fees had gone up, yet again. This was an extremely hard decision for Ted. Pecatonica Hardware had been Pecatonica True Value since 1971; that’s a long business relationship. You get used to the systems, the people, the products… I still catch myself answering phone, “Pecatonica True Value, how can I help you?” – I apologize in advance if you are so lucky to receive this greeting. Leaving True Value meant we needed new systems, a new name, and a new logo.
We thought that Pecatonica Hardware would be the most fitting, taking the name back to what it was when Gene and Ruby bought the place in 1967. Pecatonica has had a store by that name since phone numbers were single digit in town – check out one of the promotional yard sticks on the wall behind the counter the next time you stop in.
We also wanted the logo to reflect some of this history by incorporating elements of 50’s and 60’s graphic design. I immediately thought of a friend whose record store has been a haunt of mine for over a decade now, Lauren Davis. Lauren and her husband, Skyler, own Culture Shock in Rockford, IL. Lauren also owns and operates Lauren Davis Creative which specializes in graphic design. Lauren is a champion for local businesses, buying local, the benefits of spending one’s money in the local economy, small business mentality, the heritage of proud small business owners in a town, etc. – I knew she would nail what we were going for, and I think she did.
Once we had the logo finalized, we needed some new signage. As you can see from the front of the store in the picture, we needed a bit of a face lift. Gene and Ruby had Bennett Construction remodel the facade in the 70’s, but other than a few coats of stain every few years, it was exactly the same for the last forty years. The cedar shakes were shot and we had been hearing for years that people had trouble seeing the sign from the road. With a little help from Signs Now from Rockford, some tin roofing from Top Notch installed by Steele Construction, a little painting by my favorite team, and voila!
Updating the front got us excited to keep going. It sparked the conversation about doing something about the worn out carpet up in the housewares/gift room. It got us to start questioning how things would look without that confining drop ceiling looming so close to our heads. Improving things helps build that energy and motivation to do more. As circumstances changed, ideas changed from simple store improvements to something to involve the whole community in our little world in a new way. That, though, is a story for another day. More pictures, more info, more renovation. – LK
Our first blog post, and what a great opportunity to discuss our new venture here at Pecatonica Hardware! Today, Signs Now from Rockford, IL installed our new signage outside a section of the store that has long been housewares, gifts, and more recently, April Munson has been selling re-purposed and re-imagined goods through Old Things Made New. Today it unofficially became “The Workshoppe.”
What is The Workshoppe? Over the past year of renovations, we asked ourselves this thousands of times. We wanted this space to remain connected to the hardware store, but provide an opportunity to interact with the community in new ways. We wanted the space to be flexible enough to meet our needs (retail space, demonstrations, project days, etc.), yet provide an inviting space for people to congregate in downtown Pecatonica. We also wanted it to be available to community members for special occasions.
How are we going to do all of this? We don’t have all of that entirely figured out quite yet. What we do know is, The Workshoppe will be a space to shop, a space to work, a space to learn, a space to meet, and a space to celebrate….
We are still putting the finishing touches on the room and the details of this new venture. Keep checking back for updates, leave comments, contact us with questions, suggestions, etc. We are so excited to open the doors and we will let you know as soon as we have a date. In the meantime, we will be posting photos and stories of our renovation journey. – LK