HURRICANE — When Hurricane resident Sherry Graley and her husband Richard pull their truck and trailer up to a flea market or estate sale, they have not come to gawk or to idle away an afternoon.
They are on a mission. They have come to save the past.
As the Graleys, along with their grown daughter Emily, comb through mounds of stuff, they keep their eyes peeled for vintage treasures.
“You wouldn’t believe the furniture, old photographs and other items that families no longer want or use,” Sherry Graley remarks. “Our mission is to find antique or vintage items from a different era that may otherwise be thrown away or discarded and to save them to pass on to future generations.”
She wants to salvage the past.
“I want to honor our heritage and keep old, cherished memories alive. Antiques and vintage items capture a moment in time. When you enjoy history like I do, it is very satisfying to find and preserve those items.”
Graley’s shop, appropriately named “Saving Vintage,” pays homage to the past not only with its wares, but also with the building itself. Located at 401 Midland Trail in Hurricane, Saving Vintage is housed in a historical 1937 structure known to locals as “The Cottage.”
The quaint house oozes charm and character with its delightfully creaking floors and the rounded archways that lead from one room into another. Around each corner are those treasures the Graley family saved from past “pickin’” expeditions: mirrors, old books, vintage cameras and suitcases, birdcages, dress forms, architectural salvage, linens.
“I take pride in finding and offering unique items that can’t be found anywhere else in our local area,” Graley states. “Other than the line of Milkhouse Candles that I carry, I do not offer any wholesale items. You will not find multiple quantities of the same item in my store.”
She adds, “No one wants to come to an antique/vintage shop and find reproductions anyway.”
Combat veteran Robert Beaver and his wife Shelley stumbled upon Saving Vintage when they were waiting to pick up their daughter at Hurricane Middle School one afternoon.
“Saving Vintage is the cutest little store. When we went in, we immediately fell in love. Sherry has an amazing eye. As we have continued to shop there over time, we’ve noticed that Sherry is constantly updating the cottage. You can go in every day and see something ‘new’ and amazing every time.”
Graley and her team (comprised of her husband, daughter, and employee Micayla) offer more than shelves lined with unique antiques. Instead Graley advocates saving the past by bringing it into the present.
“Saving Vintage is not your typical antique store. Our main goal is to offer a variety of vintage items and show people how to use them in ways other than the originally intended purpose. Like using an old wooden shoe form as a bookend. This is called repurposing and the possibilities of repurposing are endless!”
Many items for sale at Saving Vintage have been repurposed by Graley and her team.
Like the botanical green accent table built from salvaged wood, topped with a white wooden 6-pane window. Or the coffee table made out of an old wooden door.
All part of Graley’s mission to save the past and make it current.
Although her little cottage is filled with old things, Graley manages to infuse the place with a modern vibe. Customers enjoy the free coffee bar and the scent of burning candles while grooving to music from a bygone era. Insta-worthy displays greet visitors at every turn.
Graley herself is a modern woman with an old soul. As a child growing up in Hurricane, her dream home was not an elaborate mansion but a certain little cottage in town…the cottage, incidentally, that would one day become home to Saving Vintage. She was inspired not by modern-day celebrities but by her grandparents, who owned and operated Jackson’s Market on Route 60 for over 25 years.
“I grew up in that store and I like to think that I am following in their footsteps,” Graley volunteers.
Although her life’s journey included sixteen years as a paralegal, her love of salvaging the past led to her realizing her dream as a small business owner.
“I had a booth at an antique mall for one year. Then I expanded to a storefront on historic Main Street in Hurricane for 1-1/2 years. The business continued to grow and I needed more space, so when the opportunity came to purchase The Cottage, I jumped at the chance.”
Saving Vintage opened at its current location in May 2018, and not even a global pandemic could slow it down.
“During the pandemic, I was closed for almost two months,” Graley says. “But I was able to sell items through my Facebook page and I offered curbside pickup. I mostly used that time to catch up on painting and craft projects and to clean and restock the store so that when I reopened it would be full of goodies.”
Another consequence of COVID-19 for Saving Vintage was the rescheduling of the popular Spring Fling Vendor Fair. Redubbed “Summer Fling,” the June 27 event welcomed fourteen vendors from around the state to sell handmade items, crafts, upcycled items, painted furniture, and yard sale items on the cottage lawn.
Besides the success of her small business, saving the past has had other benefits for Sherry Graley as well.
“The most satisfying part of my job is meeting new people and giving personal service and attention to every person who comes in. I have customers who frequent my store multiple times a week, and the friendships I have made will last a lifetime.”
The Beavers are some of those frequent customers-turned-friends.
“We constantly joke with Sherry that our house is the official Saving Vintage home since every room has at least one item from Saving Vintage in it,” Robert Beaver says. “Most of our rooms are almost completely made up of items bought from Saving Vintage.”
Friendships have also opened up other avenues for Graley’s expertise.
“My business has evolved into assisting customers with home decorating. Customers often bring in photos of a blank wall or an empty fireplace mantel in their home, and they ask my advice on how to decorate based on their own individual tastes. Some of my customers have asked me to hold classes on staging and some have asked me to actually come to their home and decorate it.”
These are services that she is considering offering in the future, once things in our world return to normal.
In the meantime, though, she is busy. Running a small business in a fragile economy. Hauling Richard and the truck to out-of-state auctions. Always taking the time to save the past.
“Saving Vintage is an absolute gem,” Beaver enthuses. “Anyone looking for one-of-a-kind, beautiful vintage pieces should check it out.”
For more information about items for sale or upcoming events, check out Saving Vintage on Facebook and Instagram. Business hours are Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.