GTPulse: Community Rallies Around Newly Opened Traverse City Business

“It’s desk season?”

“It’s desk season,” Carla Weaver told me as I sat next to her inside of newly opened EB2 Vintage. The Traverse City vintage store has seen a steady flow of traffic since opening this month, something that Carla is grateful for after having to shutter her previous business and location, Empireblu Vintage Furnishings.

She doesn’t want people thinking that EB2 is just a reopening of her previous store. It’s a new concept altogether.

“We are a different store, different business. I owned Empire Blu for six years and we had to close down on June 1st.”

They had closed for business on March 16th, and Carla had hoped to return to the store, but life had other plans. She had to leave the lease early due to the pandemic and was forced to be pragmatic quickly. She started hunting for a new storefront to begin again. A sweet little shop located on Eighth Street caught her eye.

“I found this place within a week, it used to be a comic book shop. When I saw that they were gone I thought, ‘What’s happening?’”

The community has rallied around Carla and her business. While navigating uncertainty after leaving her old space, she had locals offering up help with finding a new location.

“When people found out I needed a space I was getting calls from people telling me they had space available, or they knew of a place where I could go.” 

While in quarantine and business limbo, she kept busy sewing masks for others. She also kept busy with setting up shop online, territory she hadn’t waded into as a business owner yet. 

“The second we shut down in March our website went live, and it wasn’t perfect. When we decided to move into this location it was about two thirds the space that we had before, but we were selling stuff online. I love this North Boardman area. It just felt like us.”

EB2 Vintage is the reimagined business that Carla has pivoted too since the pandemic. With a smaller space, the fresh beginning has given her the freedom and creativity needed to explore new concepts.

“We have something called the Rosie Collection. Maybe you’re looking for a buffet table or something, and I have only two in the store, but I have a whole collection of pictures of things my vendors have at their house. It’s stuff that they’re going to bring in here, but because we have less space they haven’t yet. If you want to see something it can be brought in, or we can set up a time for you to see it at their house. It just gives us that much more inventory in addition to the website.”

Carla has been restoring and selling her recreated and revived furniture 9 years ago, with her first items being sold at Reclectia.

“This was not a dream of mine. I was a teacher for 22 years and I loved that. My first nine years I taught at a boys school in Montreal, Canada. Then we moved back to the States and I ended up getting my Montessori teaching certification. When I moved to Traverse City in 2009 I started painting just for fun and for therapy. I filled my house, my parents’ house” she laughed.

She began selling the painted and distressed furniture at booths before quitting teaching and opening up her own shop in 2014. Dressers, desks, dining sets and more were transformed from drab to fab under Carla’s hand. 

EB2 is thriving. Online sales have taken off in a way that Carla never imagined, and sales through social media have surprised her too.

“Even now, I post every day on Facebook and Instagram and people will ask, ‘What are the dimensions? I want it!’

With students going back to school virtually, and more working adults working from home, it’s only been busier with those looking for a new desk or ways to refresh their home office. While chatting we had a mother and her two young boys come in to pick out chalk paint.

“Is someone getting their desk ready for school?”

The little boy smiled shyly at his chosen blue paint. A new beginning for him too.

Her store may have changed, but the community surrounding her and her business is just as supportive as ever.

“The thing that kept us going was this community. When I was crying and didn’t know what I was going to do, we got over 800 messages, texts, emails, letters, from people, our customers, and this town saying, ‘I love you. You’re our favorite store. We want you back.’ So much kindness and I’m so grateful for that. I love this work. I love refinishing furniture, I love talking to customers. I just want to say thank you. To everyone.”

Whether you’re looking for some new home decor, furniture, or a way to refresh your desk, check out eb2vintage.com or visit them in-store at 516 E. Eighth Street in Traverse City.

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Categories: GTPulse