GTPulse: New Owners of Old World Gifts and Furnishings Add a Modern Twist
Old meets new at Old World Gifts and Furnishings in Grawn, Michigan. Maurice and Jackie Hayden have been the proud owners of Old World since its opening in 2004. They’re passing the baton to their daughter and son-in-law, Alyssha and Ross Munt, and all are excited about the new adventure.
“I’ve made furniture for over 55 years,” Maurice said. “My parents are Amish, and when I got close to retirement, they needed somewhere to sell their ware at. Plenty of places like to say they sell Amish furniture. This here is the real deal.”
In Amish culture, turning the other cheek is rooted in their Christian lifestyle. Those who sell unauthentic Amish furniture will never face legal consequences from the Amish because it’s not apart of their way of life, hence, it can be hard to know if what you’re buying is genuinely Amish-made. Hallmarks of the real thing are dovetail drawers, hand finishing, quarter or plain sawn wood, and is made out of a hardwood.
Maurice was raised by Amish parents but was never baptized himself.
“I did a bad thing by joining the service. They’re the passive kind, so you don’t go anywhere near the military. Anyway, since I was never baptized, I can talk to them and I can be amongst them since I’m just a wayward son. Had I been baptized, they would have had to shun me. They couldn’t talk to me or sell to me.”
Maurice spent his career as a contractor, and as he was preparing to retire his parents told him about their troubles. They were losing sales to faux Amish furniture and were struggling to find a place to sell their items.
“One thing led to another. Jackie and I designed the building and we put the furniture in it, and we’ve been doing it ever since!”
But now, they’re ready to live grandparent life with Alyssha and Ross’s kids. Prior to moving up here, Alyssha and Ross were living in Texas designing furniture. Alyssha has followed in the family footsteps as a furniture designer. She and Ross are excited to retain old traditions at the store, as well as create some new ones.
“Most recently, I’ve been working a lot on office furniture. Before the move, I was working from home, Alyssha was working at home. When we got up here it dawned on me that there’s an opportunity to design for folks working at home who are tired of sitting at their kitchen table. So there are two desks I’ve designed since moving up here in August and they were incredibly fun to work with,” Ross said.
The desks are spacious with streamlined designs. What sets them apart are the touches of technology. Pull up power stations and a wireless phone charger are convenient additions to a writing desk. A more executive style desk includes built-in power outlets and easily converts to a standing desk.
“I’m not sure, but I’ve yet to see another solid wood power lift top desk in this market,” he said.
While home office furniture continues to grow in popularity and necessity, the dining room will continue to be a timeless gathering place. While most of us spend our time at home predominantly in the living room, the dining room is the true place for togetherness. It’s one of Alyssha’s favorite rooms to design furniture for.
“I was really interested in modernizing not only the tables but the colors as well,” she said. “So I’ve done two-tone with solid cherry and Northern maple, but if a customer ever doesn’t like a color choice we can make them whatever they want.”
Farmhouse, mid-century, and traditional styles are all represented beautifully in Alyssha and her father’s designs. Each can be customized with its own kind of wood and finish depending on personal preference and price point. As with everything else in the store.
“It’s all domestic, renewable wood, and we can work with any budget,” Ross said.
While Alyssha and Ross transition into running the store full time, Maurice and Jackie are looking forward to true retirement and spending time with their grandchildren. But they’ll still be available to offer their expertise when needed.”
“As designers, it’s always fun to collaborate together,” Maurice said. “But we got grandkids to look after! They brought a couple of up with them so it’s time to you know, smell some roses. They’re bringing this store into the 21st century which brings the Amish into the 21st century so they can stay vibrant.”
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