BANGOR — It’s a green world, with more and more people striving to reduce their impact on the planet.
But for Donna Treadwell and Colleen Blanchette, it’s not enough to recycle: They believe instead in “upcycling.”
What is “upcycling”? It’s taking other people’s old and unwanted items and giving them a new spin, with a little paint, time, and elbow grease.
“We try to make everything we find a little different, a little better,” explained Blanchette, an Orrington resident.
Examples of this can be found throughout Serendipitous II, the store at 703 Main St., Bangor that Blanchette and Treadwell co-own.
An old Moosehead dry sink has been revived with painting, sanding, and new glass knobs. A old wooden chair gets a fresh coat of black paint and a woven fabric seat. Old windows become signs or chalkboards. Old shutters are changed into a shelving unit. An old headboard is transformed into a bench. A dresser missing a drawer is turned into a TV stand, with the space where the drawer was becoming a components shelf.
“We take things that people don’t want and turn them into things that they will want,” explained Treadwell, of Bangor.
In addition to the pieces they “upcycle,” Blanchette and Treadwell also stock other Maine-made products and various older items they’ve picked up along the way. Treadwell has an aversion to the term “antique,” since much of what she and Blanchette do is repurposing).
Serendipitous II has been in business for two years, thanks to a simple philosophy: “We try to keep things very affordable,” Treadwell said.
The source material for their pieces comes from a number of places: “Estate sales, auctions, yard sales if we have time,” Treadwell said. “I’m also known for stopping on the side of the road and picking things up.”
What kind of pieces speak to them?
“We like to price items so they don’t sit in our store for a long time,” Blanchette said. “So the initial price of the item is important. We also like to find items that used to be painted.”
The new color of the pieces is the key, Treadwell said.
“Yellow and red are hot right now,” she said. “Black is big in the winter time.”
The pair revamp their pieces at their homes.
“We want to stay small, to keep our prices low,” Treadwell said.
Who is Serendipitous II’s average customer?
“The majority of them are women,” Blanchette explained. “Many are college-age or retirement-age, who can’t afford to go to a furniture store to buy. Also they want something unique and fun.”
There was a steady stream of customers checking out the jam-packed shop on a recent Thursday. A coffeepot and a water jug with lemons floating in the water awaited the customers.
One was Laura Smith of Hampden, who comes there regularly for “Thursday therapy.”
“It’s the unique products that they have here,” Smith said. “It’s relaxing to get a cup of coffee and walk around. Also I’ve developed a friendship with Donna, and we’ll exchange ideas about some of the items.”
But if you see something you like, grab it, as items turn over rapidly there. One day, Smith liked the looks of a vase and went to her car to get her purse, but the vase was sold before she got back to buy it.
Serendipitous II is all about giving items a new life in a new home.
“Our customers are getting others’ heirlooms, nice pieces of furniture that have been redone for them,” Treadwell said.
Serendipitous II is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. For more information, call 945-5100 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.