Article & Photo by LeRae Haynes –
Beauty, history, craftsmanship, and an artist’s eye come together at Fox Mountain Urban Upcycle to create artistic furniture, furnishings and yard décor out of old items. The pieces that Sheri and Shane Marsh have refinished and refurbished from used and discarded things are charming, practical, full of character and history, and unique, and they are guaranteed to enhance your home and delight your soul.
Located at the bottom of Fox Mountain Road a few minutes out of Williams Lake, the store is hard to miss with the historical building, large windows, and a beautiful bright yellow door.
Response to the store and to the whole concept of creatively repurposing old things has been great, Sheri Marsh said.
“People are much more aware of what they’re buying and what they’re disposing of and the impact that manufacturing and landfill disposal can have on the environment,” she said. “They still want nice things for their home and want it to feel comfortable and beautiful. They want a place where you rejuvenate, relax, and energize. It doesn’t matter what your style is, you can find something here that appeals to you and speaks to you.”
In the shop you can find things like dressers, side tables, desks, shelves, mirrors, kitchen tables, shelves, signs, chairs and mirrors, garden and yard décor, planters, pots, and much more. Each piece has been reclaimed and reborn. Each piece has been sanded, painted, repaired, and improved. Decals and drawer handles, shelves, hinges, and trim have been added for an all-new look.
Marsh said they bring in related handcrafted products that fit the store’s niche. “Because of covid we can’t travel to estate sales and auctions right now, so we go with things like fair trade fair pay baskets from Africa made by a family, for example,” she explained. “We also carry items like handmade soaps and home décor items from local vendors.”
Sharing the store space is the Thrift Bucket, which carries second-hand vintage clothing that is washed, pressed, mended, and ready to go.
Education is big at Urban Upcycle, including how to refurbish your own pieces for vintage and distressed looks. They sell things like chalk paint, transfers, and waxes, and they also pass on tips and ideas to make something old and dated look exciting and new again.
Marsh envisions offering future classes on how to refinish and refurbish. “If you find a piece that you like at a garage sale or a share shed—it speaks to you but you’re not sure how to fix it up and make it yours—bring it in and we’ll refurbish it for you, or show you how,” she said.
Things they don’t use they pass on to local thrift stores.
“I come from a background in nursing where you put yourself out there constantly for others; you look for ways to nurture and fill your cup and renew your energy to get going again,” she said. “I always enjoying fixing up and painting furniture with my husband just for ourselves. It was my therapy. I’ve always loved garage sales and going to flea markets to see what treasures I could find.”
She said they finally decided you only live once. They sold their house in Quesnel and bought the building at the bottom of Fox Mountain and got the shop going.
Her creative mind and artistic touch and Shane’s wonderful woodworking and carpentry skills make them a perfect fit for Urban Upcycle.
The couple have a large family of kids and grandkids, and children are always welcome at Urban Upcycle.
“Every child who comes in goes home with a free book, and on Saturdays we have free popcorn for kids,” Marsh said.
She has gone into schools to do talks on upcycling and do fun projects with students.
“Kids are naturals at this,” she explained. “You can set anything in front of them and they can think of something cool to do with it. It’s astounding.”
“I love seeing things like old plastic bags being knitted into floor mats, or a broken chair upcycled into a cool shelf,” she added. “We don’t have to toss things—we can remake them into something else.”
She has started a memory box of treasures she finds in the old furniture, stuck behind drawers, or tucked away in the back of a desk.
“I have found things like a dance card from a ball in Vancouver from 1914, anniversary cards, and a handwritten invoice from a set of encyclopedias where each volume sold for $1.97,” she said. “We always let the person who sold they item to us know about it.”
At Fox Mountain Urban Upcycle they responded to a need when they opened the shop, and people were ready.
“We used to be such a disposable culture, and I think we’re getting away from that as we get more educated as a society and understand that a disposable society is simply not sustainable,” she said. “We’re just getting started here and haven’t even hit our stride yet. We’re excited about the future. We don’t all have to be huge activists. We can do little things that make a big difference.”
Fox Mountain Urban Upcycle is located at the bottom of Fox Mountain Road. For more information you can visit the store on Facebook or call (250) 318-7741.
LeRae Haynes is a freelance writer, song writer, and instigator of lots of music with people of all ages in the community. She fearlessly owns ten ukuleles, clinging to the belief that you’re not a hoarder if you play them all.