For 22-year-old shop owner, renewal is passion
Three years ago, Hubbard began giving new life to old furniture by painting it, staining it and distressing it. Since September, the 22-year-old Virginia Commonwealth University grad has operated her own store at the Shoppes at Grove Road near Chesterfield Towne Center.
“Basically, I find old things and either paint them or make them into something new,” Hubbard says.
Sometimes people bring items to Hubbard for her to reinvent; other times, she’s tasked with finding old objects to fit a specific purpose. For these orders, she often shops at yard sales and thrift stores, and takes donations. She also creates original signs and furniture for sale at the store. One of her recent creations involved the repurposing of an old picket fence. “You can make something out of anything,” Hubbard says. “It used to be something, and now it’s something else.”
One regular client is Vicki Macenka, owner of Interior Transformations and RVA Home Staging and Design. The former is an interior decorating business; the latter stages homes for sale. Macenka uses Hubbard’s services for both companies.
“All I have to do is show her a picture of something and she can totally replicate it for me,” Macenka says. “She repurposes and she recycles, she upcycles. Sometimes I’ll have her do entire dining room sets and she’ll paint it; she knows exactly where to rough it up a little bit to give it dimension. She’s multi-talented.”
Repurposing old things isn’t new to the Hubbard family. The building near the intersection of Grove Road and Midlothian Turnpike that now houses Emily’s store was previously part of Fairbee’s Restaurant and Motel. The two-building complex was renovated into offices in the early 1970s by Hubbard’s grandfather, Jim. Before that, truckers often refueled their 18-wheelers at Fairbee’s, refueled themselves at the restaurant and slept in the motel rooms in the back. “It was probably just as well-known as a truck stop,” says Emily’s father, Don Hubbard, of the buildings’ previous incarnation.
The space Emily works out of was once used as an office by Jim Hubbard and an herb shop by Don’s stepmother, Dee. Don still uses it as a base of operations for his landscape design business. Jim Hubbard eventually sold the building facing Midlothian Turnpike; Dee Hubbard currently owns the shopping center in the back.
“I handle the outside, [Emily] handles the inside and [my stepmother] handles the real estate,” Don says.
Emily was finishing her undergraduate degree in elementary education last fall while opening the store, which she admits was “a struggle, but it’s definitely good that I enjoy both. It’s not like it feels like work to come here at the end of the day and pull all-nighters.”
Emily may pursue a master’s in elementary education, but even after she starts teaching, she wants to continue operating her shop on weekends and during the summer.
For now, she’s content running her business and making the old new again.
“It’s not just some empty warehouse that I turned into a shop,” she says. “It has a story.” ¦