Transforming trash — or at least old, used goods — into treasure is what Gae Sharp-Richardson is all about. It’s what she’s always been about.
“I’ve always been creative,” Sharp-Richardson said. “My husband calls me a cre-artist.”
But all of Sharp-Richardson’s “creativity” was starting to overwhelm their Cedar Rapids home — things such as revamped dolls and recycled decorative masks were starting to stack up, she said.
“We decided it was time for me to have a storefront to sell my art pieces,” Sharp-Richardson recalled. “Having the store helped me to be able to give them up. Before that, it was hard to create things and then sell them.”
Happenstance on 7th opened at 1026 Seventh Ave. in Marion on Dec. 1. Sharp-Richardson calls the business an original art store with decor, clothing, jewelry and more — all repurposed, reconstructed, recycled and revamped.
“I work with a lot of found objects,” she said. “If I were going to describe the store, it would be Bohemian, in a way.”
Sharp-Richardson’s partner and co-creator is Pam Hyberger, who specializes in reconstructing clothing. The store’s Facebook page deems Hyberger as an expert in “giving outdated shirts, sweaters, skirts and dresses a new/one of a kind fresh look.”
Photos on the page show cinched sweaters and midriff-bearing tops next to skirts created from scraps and sheer scarves.
“What I really think is her neatest thing is when she recycles T-shirts into jackets and skirts,” Sharp-Richardson said. “She’s taking typical dive T-shirts and turning them into something pretty.”
After opening the store last December, Sharp-Richardson and Hyberger have recruited about 10 more artists who contribute through décor, hats, bags and jewelry.
And the store itself is reused or recreated in a way. The location used to house a chocolate shop owned by Sharp-Richardson and her husband. The Chocolate Shop, the store’s name, now sits about two blocks down at1244 Seventh Ave., and Sharp-Richardson spends plenty of time at both.
“Most people see me walking back and forth from the chocolate shop,” she said.
Prices at Happenstance can range from under $10 for handmade cards and soaps to more than $100 for clothing and artwork.
“Everything is one of a kind,” she said. “It’s art.”
Sharp-Richardson boasts her business’s benefit for the environment, in that it keeps used material from ending up in landfills.
The store has struggled a bit this first year because of the weak economy, Sharp-Richardson said. In response, she’s adding artists and expanding the stock.
“I think that as we add more to the store, it’s becoming more attractive,” she said.
And, Sharp-Richardson said, the artists will do custom work to turn anyone’s found treasures into a keepsake. And, she said, they’ll open for special appointments if customers need clothes fitted or altered.
Owner: Gae Sharp-Richardson
Company: Happenstance on 7th
Address: 1026 Seventh Ave. Marion
Phone: (319) 377-7192
Hours: Noon to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, and by appointment
Favorite item you sell? “My very favorite thing in there are the dolls I make. They are the things that get me teary eyed when they go.”