Off the Water photo/CRAIG HAUPERT Ipso Facto owner Brandon Nelson is always on the lookout for the next big thing for his antique shop in Three Oaks. The store is filled with unique, hard-to-find pieces.

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Ipso Facto: The next thing

Published 9:41pm Wednesday, December 14, 2011

When Brandon Nelson was a young boy, there were few things he liked more than sifting through the remains of the old farm homes his father would purchase and renovate in Minnesota.

“There were all these buildings filled with old farm equipment and old weird stuff and whatever else. A lot of times old farm houses are filled with

Off the Water photo/CRAIG HAUPERT Ipso Facto owner Brandon Nelson has spent his life collecting the visually striking pieces, such as this car, that are featured at his antique store in Three Oaks.

antiques because people would just keep whatever came from their parents,” he said. “It was something I was always interested in.”

Decades later, Nelson, 42, is still searching for the next hidden treasure. Only now, he is doing it for a living.

Nelson owns and operates Ipso Facto, a unique antique store at the intersection of U.S. 12 and Elm Street in Three Oaks. Operating for the past 10 years, Ipso Facto deals exclusively in vintage and antique pieces. Products range from tribal art to trade signs, architectural salvage to garden antiques and everything in between.

“I am mostly looking for intriguing, unusual and visually explosive things,” Nelson said. “What I have here is a culmination of years of searching and collecting. It is perpetually changing so you will be hard pressed to find what I have somewhere else.”

Nelson is often asked why he named the store Ipso Facto and what the name means.

“Ipso Facto means, it is what it is,” Nelson said. “I always liked the meaning of it and the way it sounds. It is memorable and very representative of what this business is.”

Off the Water photo/CRAIG HAUPERT One of Ipso Facto's pieces

Most of Nelson’s pieces come from within a couple hundred miles of Three Oaks. He gets his products from farm sales, antique shows and auctions.
Finding the pieces is still part of the fun.

“It is an obsession for real antique dealers, the ones who do this for a living, because you are always looking for the next thing,” Nelson said. “That is what is exciting. I still feel like I’m a kid in the attic opening up the box to see what is inside.”

When Nelson isn’t looking for antiques or spending time with his wife and three children, he can be found playing in his band, Squirm Orchestra.

“It is hard to describe our sound. It is a mixture of electronic, jazz and folk music. It’s pretty all over the map,” he said.

Nelson worked as a sculptor’s apprentice and musician in Chicago prior to moving to Sawyer, about 15 years ago. He still lives in Sawyer with his family. He is a graduate of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Ipso Facto is open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday through Monday or by appointment. The store can be reached by phone at (269) 756-3404 or by email at

Ipso Facto’s website is

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