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In The Ayr makes old new again

Old furniture can find new life thanks to a new business recently opened in Mount Ayr.
Bringing her experience restoring old furniture and her hobby of assembling an eclectic collection of vintage odds and ends, Nicole McGinnis has opened the door to “In The Ayr,” a small retail store located in the north end of the building at 102 N. Fillmore St. The building also houses American Family Insurance, of which McGinnis serves the branch manager.
“I’ve always refinished furniture for my own pieces that I wanted in my home,” she said. “I’ve always had a love of antiques and vintage, so I just started watching Facebook Marketplace and garage sales and finding dressers and small pieces that look like they were just about beyond repair. I just started salvaging pieces and putting them back together and kind of giving them new life for my own use.”
McGinnis explains how her hobby transitioned to a retail business.
“I got such great feedback [from her personal collection] and people wanting pieces of their own,” she said, “that I decided when I moved here to Mount Ayr that would be something that I could do on the side to kind of keep my creativity flowing.”
Despite the fact that furniture restoration is labor-intensive, In The Ayr is a one-woman show.
“I do it all by hand,” McGinnis said. “I do the sanding, the stripping, the repairs, everything by hand.”
The labor itself is done off-site at McGinnis’s home.
“I do it basically out of my garage, or sometimes in the basement during the winter,” she said. “Of course, all the sanding pretty much gets done outside and the stripping as well. It’s pretty small-scale right now other than the fact that I have a lot of project pieces.”
McGinnis said she has no formal training in furniture restoration. But she’s a quick learner.
“I just kind of taught myself the right way to do things and how to figure things out,” she said.
Plus, she’s had the advantage of the Internet to form relationships with other refinishers.
“We share a lot of tips and we trade secrets, like finding products that work well,” she said.
Furniture restoration, however, is not the only service or product offered at In The Ayr.
“I love anything vintage and antique,” McGinnis said. “I love the history that pieces hold. The thought of holding something in your hand that has been used for decades, maybe even centuries, and thinking about the history behind that thing always is very interesting to me. I research almost everything I buy if I don’t already know what it is or what it was used for.”
And again, McGinnis began collecting vintage items for her own personal use, but she understands the value such items may carry for other individuals.
“There’s a lot of different types of collections and collectors out there,” she said, “so you never know what’s going to be the piece that someone’s looking for to either finish out a collection or add to a collection.”
McGinnis also intends to help people reimagine the vintage items they may already own.
“I like to stage things to give people ideas,” she said. “It’s a matter of showing people what they can do with the items they already have or maybe the items grandma has or their mom has, something that’s been sitting in a box or in a garage. So, getting more people in the mindset of reusing and appreciating a little bit more history of things past.”
Plus, she stresses, keeping vintage items out of the landfill is a win-win both for the owner and the environment.
“My biggest thing is I want to keep this fun,” McGinnis concluded. “I don’t want it to become another job. It’s already got enough work involved in it, so I don’t want to take the joy away from that.”
In The Ayr is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, and McGinnis plans to open the shop one Saturday a month beginning October 16.

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