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Shopping and Style: Salvage Sisters is a 'happy place' for antique lovers

Alyssa Zaczek, azaczek@stcloudtimes.com

WAITE PARK — While Ann McClintock and Renee Lelwica may not actually be sisters, they say their store still feels like family.

"We meet a lot of different people, including our vendors, and we've all grown to be friends and almost family," McClintock said.

"I would be willing to bet that most of our vendors, and Ann and I, would consider this our happy place," Lelwica agrees.

The pair own Salvage Sisters, a "repurposed store" in Waite Park, where 30 different vendors of repurposed furniture, antiques, vintage finds and other home decor. The store is the 2016 winner for Best Antique store in the Best of Central Minnesota competition, beating out five other nominees to secure the coveted spot.

Salvage Sisters opened in May 2014, with the goal of bringing repurposed and reinvented furniture and home decor to the Waite Park area at an affordable price. McClintock and Lelwica say the customer response has been "amazing" ever since; the waiting list to nab a spot on the sales floor is a dozen vendors deep.

"The vendors are awesome. We wouldn't be here without them," Lelwica said. "We really feel that the key to our success is our vendors. It's not about Ann and I. We just work well together with the vendors. With 30-plus people, that's hard to say!"

McClintock and Lelwica said that due to the number of vendors in the space, the inventory is changing constantly.

"If you see something you like, buy it. People don’t understand that it really does change in here daily. I could probably post photos of new product on Facebook 12 times a day," Lelwica said.

"And the store is big, so plan on spending some time," cautioned McClintock. The 8,000-square-foot property boasts hundreds of items from all different eras and styles of design, something both the owners pride themselves on.

"I love the mix, the eclecticness of it all ... It's fun to have a bit of everything. There's really something here for every taste and every budget."

For both McClintock and Lelwica, there's satisfaction in knowing that the pieces "re-homed" through Salvage Sisters are bought by people who will value the item.

"You take a great piece of furniture, there's a reason it's still around 50 years later," Lelwica said.

"People buy things from us because they love it and are going to take care of it," McClintock said. Salvage Sisters does buy outright ("If you have an end table at home that you hate, we'll buy that off you," Lelwica said, laughing. "We'll give it a new life."), but both owners were surprised at the emotional attachment some sellers had to their pieces.

"When we sell items bought from people who aren't professional vendors, for us it isn't about drumming up business. It's more about peace of mind, that you’re not just sending it to a landfill. We get a lot of people coming in to sell for that reason," Lelwica said. "It's a comfort for people to know that someones going to love it enough to put it in their own home, so then it’s going to carry on. You kind of know what happens to it."

While McClintock and Lelwica do credit the creative spirit of their vendors for their continued success, they said that one of their biggest advantages is simple: They love their coworkers, and they love the work.

"You can tell right away, when you walk into a store, if there’s friction between the people who are working there. That just isn't happening here," McClintock said.

"We like being here."

Follow Alyssa Zaczek on Twitter @sctimesalyssa, email her at azaczek@stcloudtimes.com, or call her at 255-8761.

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