By Dana Hutson, Guest Blogger
One of the many things I love about Kenosha is discovering a new (to me) little place, tucked away on a side street, doing a thriving business. I spend most of my time downtown and I read the paper every day, so I’m always a bit surprised when I’m unaware of a shop or restaurant, especially one that’s been in business for awhile! This happened to me recently and I want to share about my discovery, just in case it is new for you, too!
Not long ago, my daughter and her husband were in Kenosha (they live in Illinois) and we all (including our dog, Scuppers) walked up to the PUBLIC Craft Brewery on 58th Street on a hot day to have a beer. As we were leaving, our daughter, Daryl, noticed the little shop right next door: M Again reMakes. Daryl and Andrew were looking to replace their master bedroom dressers, and they spotted a few nice pieces in the window. My husband joined them as they perused the store and spoke with the owners; I waited outside with the dog. They found a dresser they loved, but the owner also mentioned that she could refinish their old dressers to make them look very similar. Eventually, that’s what Daryl and Andrew decided to do. They brought Andrew’s boyhood dressers in and let Misty Bestler do her magic on them, and as you can see from the before and after photo, it was a huge improvement!
Later, sans dog, I decided to explore this little gem on my own. I got to sit down with Mike and Misty Bestler and got the scoop on how they ended up owning a shop in Kenosha with the unusual name of “M Again reMakes”…
A couple of years ago, Mike and Misty were living in Winthrop Harbor. Mike is retired Navy and was working at Great Lakes Naval Station teaching electronics; Misty worked at United Hospital here in Kenosha as a systems analyst. She loved working here and walking around downtown Kenosha and the waterfront. One night, they were watching the television show “Salvage Dawgs,” a DIY series about two men who bid on homes and buildings condemned to be demolished. Their goal is to secure the remarkable pieces of America’s past hidden inside these old structures before they are lost forever. Misty mentioned that she found that kind of thing fascinating and would love to do something like that herself. Mike thought it was a great idea and said she should open a store, but she said he was crazy since they were both working full-time. But she decided to try her hand at it over the summer of 2014 –she started picking up pieces here and there, and would paint and refurbish them when she wasn’t working. Before she knew it, their little garage in Winthrop Harbor, as well as three storage units, were overflowing with Misty’s masterpieces!
So they began to look for a place for Misty to work. They found the perfect spot, at 720 58th Street in Kenosha, through Craigslist. The original intent was simply to use the space as a place to work, but Mike and another friend convinced Misty that she could open a storefront at the same time. They acquired the space in July of 2014 and opened as a store three months later. Misty used her artistic vision to convert what was once a nail salon into the warm and welcoming display space you see today, all for about $100. It helped that the space itself had some good “bones” –one entire wall is brick and there was gorgeous woodwork throughout; the lighting left behind fit into the design Misty had in mind and the window areas worked well as display cases. They salvaged an old door from a neighbor’s remodel, painted it red, added a glass doorknob, used some pallets and salvaged wood from the nail salon pedicure station… and voila! They had a customer check-out station!
With a bit of luck, Misty stumbled onto the bargain of a lifetime – some barn wood at a yard sale that she got for next to nothing. This became the separation between the storefront and the storage/workspace in the back. (Which is extensive, I might add! The space behind the partition is at least as big as the display area in front.) Misty painted the walls and also some large squares on the floor that served as “booths” for vendors that she brought in at the beginning. There were five of these vendors/artists originally, each of whom rented a “booth” to display and sell their work. As a vendor would move on or get a space of their own, Mike and Misty would slowly just take over that space for Misty’s growing inventory of work. They now have only one booth rental in the store but do carry other people’s work on consignment. Instead of rent, the consigners pay the Bestlers a percentage of sales, and Misty manages the inventory to make sure it is a good fit for the store.
Misty started out doing all her work at the store, but she soon realized she needed even more space. (She confesses that she is somewhat obsessed with buying pieces that she thinks have potential, especially old doors. This is a problem that only a creative thinker would have…) Soon Mike and Misty bought a larger piece of property in Beach Park with an outbuilding that would serve as a workshop. Misty does most of her work at home now and then brings the finished pieces into the store each week to display them.
Most of the furniture you see in the store has been refurbished by Mike and Misty. On rare occasions, Misty will see something that she thinks is just right and she will bring it in to sell as is. She buys pieces online, at rummage sales, thrift stores, and even picks things up on the side of the road. When deciding to buy a piece of furniture, she asks herself, “Is it unique? Usable? Good quality? Reasonably priced?” Her philosophy is a blend of environmental (keep it out of the landfill) and potential (this dresser still has some life in it!). She’s not a fan of pressboard but will work on anything people bring in and ask her to beautify. She might, however, try to convince them to put the money instead toward one of her nicer and already finished pieces! Misty had no formal training for what she does. She says she has just always been the “crafty” type – she obviously has a good eye for what will bring out the best qualities in each piece she tackles.
After 6 years of employment, Misty quit her job at United Hospital in February of 2015 to devote all her time to M Again reMakes. Besides still working full-time at the Navy base, Mike is the heavy lifter, repairman, builder and occasional painter for the business. He admits that he is only allowed to paint under Misty’s direction and after she picks out the colors. (Misty says he is color blind.) Mike also mans the store occasionally on weekends, as does their son, Matthew. (By the way, “M Again reMakes” is derived from the fact that everyone in their family has a name that begins with M: Mike, Misty Matthew and daughter Mikayla. Misty credits Mikayla with coming up with the store name.)
The store is open Thursdays through Sundays, year-round. Hours are: Thursday 1-5 pm, Friday-Saturday 10 am – 5 pm, Sunday 11 am – 3 pm. Wednesdays are especially busy at the Bestler home, as Misty finishes up the pieces she’s been working on, prepares the inventory to be transported to Kenosha, and takes pictures to post on Facebook. Most of their advertising is done on Facebook; they have over 7000 followers. They do, of course, get some walk-in traffic and are thrilled with their location and with the available parking near them – an important consideration when you’re carrying a dresser to your car! The Bestlers love doing business in Kenosha and meeting the people that wander into the store. What is really awesome for Kenosha is the customer traffic that M Again reMakes brings in from outside of Kenosha County. Mike says that people come from as far away as Green Bay to buy pieces that they see online. Hopefully, the people that come all that distance, stay awhile in our beautiful town, walk down by the lake and stop for lunch in one of our fine restaurants!
Misty says they still have a lot to learn about owning and running a small business – they’ve only been doing it for 2 years. But they appreciate all the support they receive and the patience of their customers. And I, for one, am glad they are here! What an awesome addition to our city – you just never know what you might discover when you’re exploring Downtown Kenosha. Check it out!
M Again reMakes, 720 58th Street, 262-359-9150
PUBLIC Craft Brewing Co., 716 58th Street, 262-652-2739