Buckley & Douglas co-owner Mark Miller effortlessly jumps through hoops to give customers a unique and inspiring antiquing experience every time.
Industrial pieces, once tossed aside to be forgotten in abandoned warehouses and barns, find new life at Buckley & Douglas, where each piece is artfully displayed to receive the grandiose attention it deserves. Located in an antique warehouse near downtown Grand Rapids at 441 Century Avenue SW, the shop boasts an open floor plan and selective lighting, making each item feel like a treasure. Miller’s employee, Lizzy Zoodsma, describes him as a “shopaholic”, spending much of his “off” days searching for new finds.
Case in point, Miller was fresh off a two day shopping spree, evident in his pile of new finds placed near the doorway. A bear trap here, a stovetop corn popper there, each item still had yet to be tagged and rearranged, yet the steady stream of shoppers coming through the entrance didn’t seem to mind. Zoodsma greeted each one with a friendly “hello!” while Miller called out prices and exchanged friendly banter with his customers.
Miller and co-owner Christian Freeman began building their name in the Grand Rapids antique world early. They rented a warehouse space above Lost & Found (their other antique shop, located in the same warehouse), to rehab furniture in their free time to sell at nearby markets and shops. Miller became frustrated in his various retail management positions, finding that his companies were downsizing due to the shrinking economy of 2008. When a phone call came offering them the space that now houses the mid-century modern furniture haven of Lost & Found, Miller and Freeman jumped at the chance.
“Buckley & Douglas is (what’s) in my head,” Miller said of his second shop, explaining why he chose to open a store that carried a curated selection that was much different than Lost & Found.
“The industrial pieces that I love so much did not fit into my Victorian home or Lost & Found,” he said. Opening a store that stocked utilitarian finds such as lockers, dissection tables, and letterpresses was the only logical answer.
Judging by the amount of traffic I experienced in the short time during the interview, it was evident that Grand Rapids is enjoying Miller’s creation as well. In addition to having a great eye for what fits in the store, Miller knows his target market well, whom he estimates are in the 20-40 range.
“Many of our customers are just starting their lives, and I want them to be able to afford interesting and well made pieces for their homes,” Miller stated while explaining why he prices the items the way he does.
Miller was passionate about his excitement for antiques, and wants others to be, too.
“I am interested in the lost art of Functionality,” Miller says, animatedly picking up a forest green coffee can, naturally patina-ed so only remnants of the yellow word “coffee” and flowers peek through, allowing us to see a slight glimmer of the beauty of the past.
Miller and Zoodsma were not afraid to ask customers what they planned to do with their purchases, or even offer suggestions for ways of breathing new life into items. They were also adamant about educating customers about their very unique products-and even allowing them to try hand crank machinery out!
If you’re looking some inspiration, or even a simple break from the antiquing norm, step into Buckley & Douglas, now a year old, to hit the refresh button.