Norwalk Reflector: Milan shop showcases 'upcycled' art

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Milan shop showcases 'upcycled' art

By Michael Harrington • Apr 15, 2019 at 2:00 PM

MILAN — Milan is known for its antiques, but one shop has taken advantage of a rising retail trend to turn old discarded items into art.

According to the Retail Industry Leaders Association, 93 percent of consumers expect the places they shop at to support local, social and environment issues.

This has led retailers, both big and small, to adopt “the upcycling trend,” which is the process of taking discarded objects to create a product with a higher value than the original, according to Forbes.

Major companies, like Adidas and Tommy Hilfiger, have started upcycling, but it can also be seen at the local level with shops like Crosstown Goods in the village of Milan.

The consignment shop, located next to the Invention Restaurant on the village square, specializes in showcasing products created by local artists.

“Most of us are local artists from Erie and Huron counties, so it’s a great way to support a local business that supports area artists,” co-owner Joan Fisher said. “We have people who do all kinds of upcycling, which I like because it doesn’t end up in a landfill.”

Fisher partnered with Taylor Lombardo to open in the shop two years ago after they met at a Christmas party and realized they had similar beliefs.

At their shop, they sell one-of-a-kind items made from everyday objects, like a table made from antique yardsticks, a centerpiece sculpted from old spoons and signs built from torn-down bleachers.

“All of these things would be in a landfill or a dumpster, but, now, they’re art,” Fisher said.

The unique items on display have led to the shop gaining a positive reputation, and it’s grown to include about 40 local artists. Since opening two years ago, Fisher and Lombardo said they regularly have people coming into the shop just to see the items on display.

“When we first opened, we only had two vendors, and I was biting my nails wondering where we were going to get people,” Lombardo said. “But, now, they find us all the time. It’s amazing.”

“You’d be amazed how many artistic people there are,” Fisher added. “If you saw a person walking down the street, you wouldn’t know they were the photographer or made jewelry.”

The shop also seeks out artists through websites and festivals to find products they need seasonally, such as Christmas ornaments and Easter decorations. It also sells other products that aren’t upcycled like hand painted cards, coasters, jewelry, photographs and more.

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