New business opening FridayPublished 10:19am Wednesday, November 4, 2009
By JOHN EBY
Dowagiac Daily News
After a frantic couple months of sleepless preparation, Dawn Schlipp might finish Oh My… with an exclamation point followed by, What Am I Doing?
But usually the unusual name for the store she’s opening in downtown Dowagiac Friday, Nov. 6, reminds her of her grandmother’s generation exclaiming, “Oh my!” when something took their breath away.
And there are gasp-inducing moments in Oh My…, 204 S. Front, one storefront south of the former Wren’s Nest.
Buzz Meyer owns the building.
It’s not everyone who shares Schlipp’s ability to look at a grandfather clock and see its potential as a birdhouse.
She could have had it at an auction Oct. 31 for $12, but she was too tired to consider carrying it.
“There’s more stuff out there, enough for all of us,” she said philosophically.
One can’t help but browse, there is so much to see, from doors hung like big picture frames to lampshades recycled from skirts.
As Dawn Huff, she graduated from Union High School in 1974 with The Marshall Shoppe owner Sue (DeShazo) Kazlauskas.
Paula (Miller) Barnes is another friend with whom she keeps in contact.
Many think Dawn’s eclectic Eau Claire home ought to be featured in Better Homes and Gardens.
She frequently elicits from her own daughters, Darci Busby and Megan Dudley, the response, “I never would have thought to do that, but she visualizes eye-catching stuff.”
“Rooms change like the weather. My husband doesn’t want to go over any more because he got tired of moving furniture. If a dog chews a table leg, it’s junk to some and they throw it out. Mom’s going to cut it off and make a coffee table,” Darci said.
Where Karla Wiker Schley opened Captured Memories photography studio in 2000, Schlipp has assembled an array of colorful refreshed furniture along with some retail, such as the Tyler line of candles, hand soaps, detergent and auto air fresheners with provocative names such as High Maintenance (her personal favorite), Diva, Hippie Chick, even Sour Cream Coffee Cake, jewelry, purses and collectibles.
“Fun, affordable stuff,” she said Tuesday evening, when she could be joined by her husband, Doug. They also own an auto body shop in South Bend, Ind.
The second name she considered for her business was My Serenity because purchasing and painting are a creative outlet that started as a hobby.
She is an artist whose canvas is furniture she enjoys “making look new again.”
“I didn’t do this on purpose. I just went out and started buying stuff” that caught her eye. “It all just kind of fell together,” she said.
“She had so much in her house she had to open a store to sell what she had,” Darci laughs.
“I can take her to Goodwill or any store I go to and (Darci) can find nothing” while Dawn has her eye on several items, their potential instantly apparent to her.
“She has a knack for decorating. Her house should be in Better Homes and Gardens,” adds Megan.
Schlipp selects bold fabrics for tired old furniture and works with the body shop’s upholsterer to complete pieces.
“I have new stuff every week – every other day,” she said. “I’ll never have the same thing twice. Kind of like (her friend) Laurie Anne (Kinzler, then of Watervliet),” who brought “shabby chic” clothing and furniture to the central business district Nov. 1, 2003.
“I’ve never done anything remotely close to this,” Laurie Anne, who grew up in Mattawan, said at the time.
“I’ve always worked in a cubicle for somebody else,” from advertising for Flashes Publishers in Allegan for five years to accounting at Lane Automotive.
While Schlipp is less into clothing, she offers purses “if they catch my eye.”
Dawn said she’s venturing into business now despite the tough economy because “my kids are all raised. I needed to do something I enjoy before time runs out.”
It doesn’t seem like all that long ago she was a senior at DUHS, doing some modeling for Shapero’s The Fair store, which spanned the city block from Zeke’s to Kris Lamphere’s WHO kNEW? consignment.
“I forgot I did it until I found the newspaper clipping in my mom’s stuff after she passed away,” Schlipp recalled.
Trimmed in lights above the door is a Shriner car driven before they switched to mini-bikes.
She and Doug worked all day in South Bend, then every night hauled something to Dowagiac.
“Tim (Dowsett) the chiropractor gets to see more of me now. Darci works there,” she said.
“Megan works for Kemner-Iott” insurance agency across from the Law and Courts Building in Cassopolis. “They both live in Dowagiac.”
“Right now, my hours are going to be from 10:30 to 5:30, Monday through Saturday,” Schlipp said, “then, with feedback from customers, I want to choose one night to be open late.”
Schlipp worked for Glen Meek Auto Body in Niles for nine years until about six years ago, when she opened a little shop in Eau Claire.
That’s where she met Vickie Phillipson, Downtown Development Authority and Chamber of Commerce program director.
The couple have had the South Bend body shop for about five years.
About the only thing Dawn doesn’t do there, ironically, is painting “because people want their cars perfect. I like it shabby chic or distressed. I like the retro look. I’ve taken lights, painted and restrung them and made hanging lights out of them. I make my own lampshades” from cast-off blouses and skirts.
“My mom made all my clothes when I was younger,” she said.
“She sewed a lot. I don’t sew clothes. I like to sew other things.”
Even distinctive display shelves and interior windows salvaged from Habitat for Humanity to show off curtains are resurrected from previous lives.
“She enjoys doing it more than she enjoys the retail part,” Doug said. “Everybody wants to buy it cheap and turn the biggest profit, but her thing is to make a little something and see somebody take it to their home and enjoy it. I believe you can be successful, yet today, with that philosophy.”
“I want people to come in and spend time looking,” Dawn said.
“That’s what I like to do when I go places. I have to go back a couple of times.”