Shelby Lum / Lantern photographer
Many antique stores come with the faint smell of mothballs, along with generic soft jazz. Tomorrow’s Antiques in the Short North plays Nirvana.
Tomorrow’s Antiques, located at 15 E. 2nd Ave., is a furniture store with a twist. Co-owner and head carpenter, Justin Smith, greets customers at the door, still wearing safety goggles from his most recent project. The store refurbishes, repurposes and resells antiques as new and different items. Sunday marked the store’s one-year anniversary of opening.
“It’s not just furniture made in China and shipped over here, and it’s not just antiques that have been floating around for 100 years and put into a store,” Smith said. “We try and take the best of both worlds.”
The Short North is already home to several furniture shops, including Grid Furnishings, Mary Catherine’s Antiques and ReVue, but co-owner Steven Mills said Tomorrow’s Antiques occupies a unique niche within the furniture store business.
“I think there’s very few, if any, stores that make their products in the Short North,” Mills said. “We cater to the neighborhood.”
Mills agreed with Smith, that products made in China are not representative of Tomorrow’s Antiques.
“When you go into a store and everything is made in China … it’s not what the neighborhood is about. This neighborhood is very self-contained, and we are just trying to go along with that,” Mills said.
But after a year in business, not everything is the same. The store is more focused on creating custom, original work for customers than when it first opened.
“Nine out of 10 jobs are new build, custom jobs,” Mills said.
As the head carpenter, Smith builds the requests right in the store.
“People bring in stuff all the time and ask, ‘What can you do with this?'” Smith said.
Having Smith in the store for new builds has been a distinguishing factor for Tomorrow’s Antiques.
“In the area … I don’t know where you find a carpenter where you can walk in the door and say, ‘Hey I want to build this,’ and someone is there, willing and capable,” Mills said.
Smith’s presence might fill a niche, but the location of Tomorrow’s Antiques itself is out of the way for many customers.
The store is not located on High Street, and that has created a disadvantage for its business, Mills said. Other local shops have helped drive customers toward Tomorrow’s Antiques in the past year, though.
“Other businesses in the area have really helped us out,” Smith said.
The Lamp Shade, which sits on the corner of High Street and East Second Avenue, has been promoting Tomorrow’s Antiques since its opening last year.
“Those types of things that they do at Tomorrow’s Antiques are good for our business and brings more traffic and more interest to the area,” said The Lamp Shade owner Marianne Lannan.
She said she frequently sends customers around the corner from The Lamp Shade to Tomorrow’s Antiques if they need custom work or small furniture pieces her store does not sell.
“They can do more custom things, which I think is their niche,” Lannan said. “They have been a great asset to the area.”