St. Marys Journal Argus
Nestled in a downtown St. Marys building that is praised, in a historic plaque attached to its street-facing wall, for its “charm and simple design,” newly-opened business Art, Antiques and Architectural Salvage is operated by two long-established St. Marys businesspeople who have proven their love of preserving heritage.
Wendy and Mark Czajkowski have owned the A. Workman Building, recognized as the oldest surviving downtown St. Marys store constructed originally of wood frame (in this case, subsequently covered with a brick façade) for about five years. Wendy has been operating her Strands hairstyling business from that location since they bought the building. And, since a quiet opening in February of this year, the couple has also been operating the new antique and salvage business in the 145 Queen Street East shop adjoining Strands within the same building.
Opening an antique shop has never been too far from the couple’s minds. “We’ve both got the disease,” smiles Wendy, adding they’ve spent many days over the years looking for collectibles in antique stores or flea markets.
“We’re suckers for old books. And one thing that Mark really has trouble passing up on is old registers and old grills (for heat ducts). They can be really neat when they’re recycled into a different use.”
But they knew that, if they ever did so, they would want it to offer something different. And over the past couple of years, as Mark began noticing an emerging trend in his established Czajkowski Creative Carpentry business, the idea gradually began to take shape for the store.
“It was the architectural salvage stuff that really pushed us,” Wendy explained. “Last year, Mark took down two houses, one near Motherwell and one just north of town. And he’s been collecting old doors, and trim, and chairs for years . . . But with some of the things that he was taking out of these houses, he knew there were other people that might be interested in them.
“The recycling thing really seems to be taking off.”
Czajkowski Creative Cabinetry, operating out of a spacious workshop on King Street South, specializes in restoration of heritage construction and furnishings. Over the years, Mark has also branched into custom creation of furnishings — such as cabinets built from old desks; or benches utilizing the backs from old wooden chairs — from materials salvaged from other items.
“The Internet has been a wonderful thing for that,” Mark comments. “People see something and get an idea in their head about what they want to do. And the great thing about what I do is that I can look into their ideas and make them happen.”
It’s a skill he learned, he says, while working years ago in the set department at the Stratford Festival. Back then, he notes, a director or set designer might come to the carpenters with an idea, and the carpenters would have to turn it into reality.
With the new store, Wendy says, “it works out really well because we always try to keep some of the pieces he has made on display and, if someone wants something custom-made, they can see some of the things he’s done in the past and maybe get some ideas.”
Having the King Street workshop, meanwhile, is also beneficial. It gives the Czajkowskis a place to store items and materials that aren’t on display in the store currently, but could be at some time.
“The biggest thing is keeping it interesting,” Mark comments. “We’ll change it up. We’ll have something different on display, and move some things out if they’ve been here for a while.”
They add they want to make sure the store doesn’t become cluttered, as is the tendency in shops selling antiques.
One space that won’t be used for display purposes, however, is the storefront window. That’s been reserved as painting space for Mark, whose artwork is also on display on the walls of Antique, Art and Architectural Salvage. Czajkowski is a successful artist, and can sometimes be found working on a canvas in the 145 Queen Street East window.
Art, Antiques and Architectural Salvage can be contacted at 519-284-4823, and they also have a Facebook page with updates about what’s available from the store.