Editor’s Update: The store is no longer in business. :(
The quaint Charlotte General Store is salvage shop in town that I often frequent while out running errands. It’s no secret or big announcement that I’m a salvage junkie, I just live for rainy days spent exploring other people’s trash, which is just what I did recently when I stopped in to browse (and snap some photos with permission).
The shop, founded and maintained by Joe Benvenuto is a tucked away little gem like most other salvage shops you’ve probably come across in your travels. It’s one of those places where when you start to poke around, you’re bound to find something great that that can be reused, repurposed, or given a second shot at life.
And like other salvage shops, the scope of it’s inventory can be alarming, but that’s part of the fun.
Joe and his family have a long-standing history in Rochester too. It’s a sweet story.
In the early-mid century, his father and uncles ran and managed Benvenuto Bros., a well-known and recognized demolition company that participated in their share of Rochester’s rejuvenation and revitalization efforts. From commercial and industrial to residential demo, the family was one of the last companies in their era to artfully salvage and retain as much of the original construction and historical components in each of those properties. Lanterns, I-Beams, tongue and groove flooring, hinges, you name it, they took it.
Their appreciation and effort for the reclaimed is more than just kind of cool when you think about it. It was revolutionary.
It allowed other contractors, homeowners, and industries the opportunity to upcycle and retain the area’s art, re-infuse the economy, gain production efficiencies, eliminate landfill waste, and appreciate a more resourceful lifestyle and business model.
And as hard as it is to imagine a company being contracted to demolish mansions and estates previously inhabited by original innovators of life-changing industries (like Kodak multi-millionaires), the Benvunito’s preservation efforts left us more treasure than trash.
In the 60’s and 70’s, the brothers opened a 12-acre salvage yard in town; the site remained a loved and popular resource for both common and unlikely salvage from the immediate area, and served the community well until it closed in the 80’s.
Over the past few decades, and continuing on via the Charlotte General Store, much of Joe’s work has revolved around distributing and selling the treasures that his father and uncles had accumulated over their decades of work. In more recent years, those treasures are supplemented by an array of suppliers and companies who buy into the same reclaimed-treasure way of existing.
It’s to everyone’s benefit. No lie, I’ve sourced a lot of stuff from Joe at Charlotte General Store since it opened a few years ago. Like my real-life front door. He’s got some nice stuff.
And this lamp from early in the summer which in all honesty, I still haven’t finished working on yet. Someday soon perhaps.
Until I finish it, I’m not giving myself permission to buy more lamps, although here’s a base that I crushed on recently:
As I’ve said, there’s a whole lot of stuff to look through if you stop in the shop at 4450 Lake Avenue.
In amongst hoards of items including building materials (like traditional nails, screws, and tools)…
… you’ll also find flawless vintage housewares:
And perfectly good hanging baskets with a pleasantly rounded shape (on iron chairs that with a new seat, would be good as new):
And the occasional gem from someone’s childhood, like this bouncing horse (and a lei, and a single bowling pin):
Joe has amassed a collection of prints and posters too; the florescent pink of this political poster gets me every time (but doesn’t quite seem perfect for my home):
Naturally, because of our scooter obsession, we’re big fans of this child-sized battery-powered motorcycle. No battery or power cord included, but we imagine some motorcycle fan happily restoring this for their daughter or granddaughter. Girls Rule.
Furniture is prevalent too. From reclaimed church pews and park benches, to vintage elementary school desks, bedroom dressers and vanities in need of love, there’s a constant turn-over to keep things interesting.
This time, for instance, I spied this great rocking chair from afar. I think it has a broken rocker, but how cool are those arms?
I also dig this desk chair (can’t identify who the original manufacturer was, but think it’s cool, and would be cooler with a little reupholstery jobber). At $4, it seems too good to be true, but I didn’t buy it (yet).
And every time I visit, I’m enamored by something new. Like this well-preserved pinball game. Perfect for a little kid’s room or an office, or maybe a non-functional wall-hanging, it was hard to pass up at just $5.
I hope you all have something like this to appreciate in your own respective towns! Any exceptional salvage finds of late? Anyone feel compelled to become an American Picker?
(P.S. You can like Charlotte General Store on facebook too.)