Architectural Sow's Ear Turned Into Silk Purse (VIDEO)

By Eric Olson

November 5, 2013 Updated Nov 5, 2013 at 12:50 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (21Alive) -- In a corner of Fort Wayne’s historic West Main neighborhood is an example of what a little TLC can do.

This is what 1753 West Main looked like four years ago when Pam and Bob Michel bought it from the city for back taxes. The couple restored the home and turned it into a business, Mercantile on Main, purveyor of fine antiques….with a special emphasis on antique lights, most of them restored by pam.

“That was something that I bought and collected before I got in the business,” Pam says. “You get too much in your collection you end up in the business!”

The shop is full of neat stuff besides beautiful lights…dishes and kitchen items, beautiful handmade wood toys, just gorgeous. And these interesting decorative pieces…they’re old LP records that have been softened with heat and molded into flowers. Even the kitchen is a sales venue for the shop, watched over by a classic Kit-Kat clock. Mercantile on Main is a family business; daughter Addie manages the store while upstairs daughter Hanna displays her own collection of vintage clothing, all for sale.

“Most people comment it’s a very fun shop,” says Pam, “and they really enjoy coming in and shopping.”

The place remains a work in progress. Next door is the latest venture, an authentic and historic railroad depot bought by the Michel’s and moved next door to the store, awaiting restoration. Plans are to restore this building as well and use it to display architectural and garden antiques. This is a real success story, Mercantile on Main…an abandoned eyesore rescued from oblivion and repurposed…living out its new lease on life as a viable, profitable business and dressing up, very smartly, an historic corner of 21 Country. This is Eric Olson reporting.

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