We knew we would want to document the ups and downs of transforming a 100 year old building into the shop we dreamed about. Here is a fairly close play by play that has unraveled over the last few weeks (minus most of the boo-boos and extended vocabulary we may or may not have used at one point or another). It took us six weeks to completely renovate, reset, and fully stock the store for a May 1st Grand Opening.
I am still in shock that we pulled it off. The crews, the workers, and the passer by-ers (it’s a word) all chuckled at me when I said (and repeated excessively) “We will be opening May 1st!”. Then I chuckled all day long May 1st as the hordes of customers flooded into our store.
From 1965 up to March of this year this place was a fully operational dry cleaning business (and trust me, everyone and their brother has tried to drop their dry cleaning off with me since March 17th and is completely surprised that they have retired). To say we had a few items to move out of there is a very serious understatement. We hauled out, conservatively, 15,000lbs of metal. What was not metal we filled several 20ft dumpsters, which is saying a lot for these junkers because we don’t throw away anything!
I will admit that I am disappointed with myself, as I did not photograph any of the last few weeks of work (chock it up to the piles of paperwork, permits, licenses, and overall stress of opening a new store). But here are a few before and afters:
First things first, while the demo process was happening I (Stefanie) decided to use a ladder, a fridge, and a 130 yr old safe to hoist myself into the ceiling area of the back stock room. I found some excellent treasures up there! 100 years worth of grocery store ledgers, and other grocery fixtures. Even some cases of shoe polish and bug bombs.
As the demo and work progressed we also discovered several other things. We had no idea what the original walls looked like when we got the place. They were covered in wood paneling from the 60’s. Behind the panels we found an amazing rock wall, and a few spiders *shivers*. We decided to keep the walls just as they are, and have sealed them to protect them. You can still see pieces of charred wood from the big fire of 1955 that burned down the entire block. Moving closer to the front of the store we were met with a different challenge, 3 types of wall coverings in one. Huh? Rock, brick, and a concrete-like plaster. It left much to be desired. Dad and I mulled it over for a few minutes and beat it with a sledge hammer for a few minutes more for good measure (I guess we thought we were going to beat it beautiful? Not sure…). Then the light bulb went off, cover that bad boy with a mural! So the next 20+ hours were spent creating, and cursing my grand idea, but mostly creating. Special thanks to my mom and sister for pitching in and helping me shave off a good 8 hours from the total time spent masterpiecing (it’s a word).
I had so much fun with that one that I also made a Moon Pie mural for the back office. It was a great set of projects for me to focus on and distract myself from the mountain of business related stuff I was supposed to be working on. I mentioned earlier a 130 year old safe. In 1885 the safe was purchased by Mr. Yarbrough who owned and operated Yarbrough Bros. Grocery in the building from 1915 (possibly a little later than the date of the building’s original construction)-1955. This safe sat in the back stock area of the building, survived the fire of 1955, and was still in use by the dry cleaners. Once we started our work we were in contact with Mr. Yarbrough’s grandson, and he purchased the safe and hired a crew to remove it from the building for us. Nine men, one crane, and a boom truck slowly yet surely removed the safe over a 5 hour period. The safe was inched out with steel bars and lowered onto a steel plate where the crane narrowly missed all power lines, lifting it over the buildings and then onto the boom truck. What an absolutely nerve wracking fiasco!
We had a new ceiling installed, completely re-wired the entire building, all new plumbing, HVAC system installed (phew!), accessible emergency exit and a deck for the back of the building- you name it we probably had to hire someone to install it. We got very acquainted with City Hall, inspectors, and zoning folks. We cleaned, cleaned, and cleaned until our fingers bled. We wore masks for weeks on end.
Slowly yet surely we made progress, and started to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It all fell into place nicely as we neared our May 1st date.
We were given the “Okay” to move fixtures in on a rainy Saturday morning. We unloaded 3 trailers, and close to a dozen vans full of product and fixtures. Took 5 days to set the inventory in place, all finishing touches, install phones, internet, and surveillance system. During this time we also had the sign I hand painted installed, a new awning installed, and several other odds and ends. I don’t even have the time to completely explain the extremely large, straight from a horror flick Boiler that we had removed so that my office could fit into the building’s plans. Maybe another day!
We will have professional photos coming soon but this is our glimpse into the ins and outs of transforming an antique building into an antique store. Would I do it again? Sure! Honestly though I hope I don’t have to do anything that labor intensive for a while, it really did a number on us. Kudos to my family for not murdering me during the process, and to my dad for not telling me that any of my ideas were too crazy that we couldn’t try. Special thanks to all of our crews and companies who helped us with our grand project. The biggest thanks goes to all of our customers and visitors who have given us an overwhelming welcome. We are so glad to be here.
Come by and see the place for yourself!
Junk Drunk Jones, Where Every Day is a Treasure Hunt!
175 West Main Street, Canton GA 30114
678-951-8500 Tues-Sat 9:30-5:30, Sunday 10:00-2:00, closed Monday