By Kelsey Landis
The Telegraph, Alton, Ill.
When their house, two-car garage and storage unit were all completely full of furnishings and home decor, Barbie and Bryan Bryanildsen decided it was about time to open up their own shop.
With four rooms and one showroom full of refurbished and unfinished furniture from 10 consigners and the owners themselves, shoppers at WOW Furnishings can peruse furnishings, home decor, artwork and more. Bryan Bryanildsen also offers painting services to customers who would like an old piece of furniture fixed up. Bringing items back to life is one of the Bryanildsens’ goals.
“We take pieces that people don’t see the value or beauty in anymore,” said Barbie. “And then we try to give it new life again.”
After about three weeks of customizing the leased space, the Bryanildsens opened their store a week ago Friday at 513 E. Third St. in Alton. Bryan completed the design of the floor with detailed finishes like industrial lighting and a wall made from refurbished wood. The overall effect is what Bryan describes as an “old-timey, industrial look.” The historic building’s original wood floor remains.
Refurbishing old furniture has been a hobby of the Bryanildsens for some time, said Barbie, but they were not able to actively pursue it while raising their five kids. They managed to place some of their items in consignment shops, but weren’t able to dedicate themselves to it full-time.
But after their kids were all raised and out of the house, Barbie and Bryan suddenly found they had a lot of time.
“When all of our kids were raised, we realized there’s a whole life after kids,” Barbie said with a cheerful laugh.
The store is named after the reaction many of the pieces cause when customers look at them, Barbie said.
“They see it, and they say, ‘Wow!'”
In addition to wowing their customers, the Bryanildsens say they hope to contribute to a bigger cause by donating to charities and fostering entrepreneurship in the youth community.
“Young Entrepreneurs” is the startup program the Bryanildsens created. Once it is in full swing, youngsters ages 7 to 17 will have the chance to make items to sell in the store. The Bryanildsens said they took inspiration from raising their own children to start the program.
“All of our five kids worked,” said Barbie. “We think it’s important to learn what it takes to work, and discover a talent.”
The couple says they hope to partner with area businesses for a monthly informational meeting with youth in the program, where they can learn about entrepreneurship.
To learn more about the program and for updates on events at the store, contact the Bryanildsens through their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/wowfurnishings. The store’s website is not yet active, but will eventually be updated at www.wowfurnishings.org.
WOW Furnishings is located at 513 E. Third St. and is open from noon to 8 p.m. Thursday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, or by appointment. They are open from 6 to 9 p.m. the first Friday of every month for Ladies Night, when the store puts on special events.