By India Yarborough The Topeka Capital-Journal, Kan.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) "4 Girls' Garage" is a store where the old is made new again and where upcycling is queen. The women purchase many of the items they sell, and they put their own spin on the pieces before setting them out for sale.
The women behind 4 Girls' Garage haven't always been expert crafters. In fact, their passion for upcycling furniture arose years after they started other careers and as their kids were moving away from home.
"Doing dorms, first apartments, first houses, that kind of thing -- we liked what we were doing," said Debbie Geist, one of three women still operating the business. "From there, we really wanted to support NOTO."
Geist, Carol Ingenthron and Sandy Martin own the store. Geist and Ingenthron are Topeka natives and have known each other since they were 14 years old. Martin is a Topeka transplant who first came to the capital city to attend college at Washburn University.
Walking into 4 Girls' Garage, at 837 N. Kansas Ave., one can find refinished antique cabinets, odd decorations turned into light fixtures, green ceramic pumpkins and so much more. It's a store where the old is made new and where upcycling is queen.
"We're very eclectic, and I think once people get in here ... everybody finds something -- either it brings back a memory from Grandma's house or they think, 'Oh this is cool the way they did that' or just something makes you laugh," Geist said. "I have a plate that says 'Wicked chickens lay deviled eggs.' No matter what -- when people read that, somebody will chuckle. You can almost tell where they're at in the store by what they say or where they laugh."
4 Girls' Garage first opened in late summer 2012. Up to that point, for about six months, the women had been re-purposing furniture and selling it two days a month out of NOTO's Two Days Market, which is only open on First-Friday weekends.
In 2012, NOTO was just getting started. Martin said there were plenty of buildings in the area for sale at the time.
"So at that point, why not just jump in and buy a three-story building?" Ingenthron added.
And that's exactly what they did. Geist, Ingenthron and Martin's fourth business partner -- who still owns the building with them but eventually decided to branch off and do her own thing. 4 Girls' Garage became three, but the name was already a staple.
According to the trio, their varied interests are a key to the store's success. The women purchase many of the items they sell, and they put their own spin on the pieces before setting them out for sale.
"We have thought maybe that's why we've been successful is because we each buy differently," Ingenthron said. "We have our merchandise in here -- but it's the three of us, and we each have very different taste. With that comes something for everyone." Martin loves vintage fabrics and architectural salvage -- "those odd, weird, metal pieces."
"When I shop, that is the number one, top thing on my list," Martin said. "You know, how can you take that odd piece of metal and turn it into something really cool for your table or something like that?"
Ingenthron likes painting furniture.
"My husband's a woodworker, so we can do quite a bit to upcycle and make them different from what they were," she said. "But I really like painting and finishing the different pieces and finding them."
Geist loves hand lettering. She is also a fan of painting furniture, but for her, it's more about the details.
"I like to change things up with, well, I call it weirdness," Geist said. "I painted these pumpkins with a pour art, not just a paint.
Or I see a table, and I'm thinking, 'OK, what can I put on to paint it, and then what can I paint on top of that decoratively?' I like the artistic side of that."
But their differences don't stop there.
"We each bring business wise -- as much as we do shopping wise and interest wise -- something different to the table," Geist said.
Their diverse tastes and varying methods of doing business, though, don't tear the women apart. Above all, they have one rule -- that love comes first.
"We're also moms and good friends," Geist added. "We made a pact that the friendship always came first, and families." ___ Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.