Whitney and Denis Koehn find new life for old objects. The couple use their skills — sewing, welding and painting — to repurpose vintage items that they find at auctions.
"We joke that we go where no man has gone before. We get stuff that nobody wants until they see it in our booth," Whitney said.
Their booth, Henry's Chase, has sold treasures large and small at the Kansas Barn Sale in Hesston for the past five years. Recently, the Koehns decided to take their enterprise to the next level and opened a store in Newton.
"We were at a point where we were either going to quit completely or really do it," Whitney said.
Henry's Chase, located at 108 W. Broadway, will celebrate its grand opening from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 23.
Whitney fell in love with the architectural features that have been in place ever since the building served as the Ragsdale Opera House. The store's design leaves many of those elements open to the public view.
"My husband worked very hard," Whitney said with a smile.
At first, Whitney had to persuade Denis to take the time to find and clean the pieces they would sell. Now, she said they both have gotten into the "thrill of the hunt."
"He's in love with going to auctions," Whitney said. "He's the biggest junker you've ever seen."
Using their imagination and skill sets, the pair turn everyday items into pieces that can be both decorative and functional.
"Sometimes you have to rebuild and sometimes, if you're really, really lucky, all you have to do is use soap and water," Whitney said. "We don't get that lucky very often."
Henry's Chase is filled with furniture, wreaths, vintage decor, pillows and antique doors.
"A lot of what we find is stuff you can use to make stuff," Whitney said. "People like to do that, but they don't have time to go digging like we do."
Lamps and keychains are just a few of the repurposed items for sale at Henry's Chase.
"It's just fun to see what you can make out of nothing," Whitney said.
The business's name is a play on the idea that the project would be like a wild goose chase.
"Henry was my dog, a giant schnauzer that someone dumped," Whitney explained. "He loved to run. He would race cars."
She is excited to keep adding new selections to the shop, rearranging and redecorating as the seasons change.
"It needs to have an ebb and flow," Whitney said.
Plans are in the works to add space in the basement of the store for more industrial-style items and to hold workshops to teach people how to repurpose objects and decorate spaces.
"Our theme is 'it doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful,'" Whitney said.
Henry's Chase is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Wednesday. For more information, call 706-830-7339 or email email@example.com.