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Vintage shop offers affordable furniture, locally made gift items

Alana Waters-Piper, left and Sara Emmick, co-owners of Nest Vintage Modern, 3750 
Grand Blvd. in Brookfield organize jewelry at the shop on Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013.
Alana Waters-Piper, left and Sara Emmick, co-owners of Nest Vintage Modern, 3750 Grand Blvd. in Brookfield organize jewelry at the shop on Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013.

From 1930s china cabinets to mid-century modern dressers, shoppers can expect to find something new every time they visit Nest Vintage Modern in Brookfield.

The vintage store has been so successful since opening last July that co-owners Alana Waters-Piper and Sara Emmick are planning to move it in May to a bigger space in La Grange with more foot traffic.

"We're excited about being able to do it," Emmick said. "It’s happening a little sooner than we thought it might."

Specialties in the store include hand-painted and refurbished vintage furniture that Emmick and Waters-Piper find at garage sales, thrift stores, estate sales and even in alleys or along the side of the road.

"The focus of the store is really giving new life to old pieces," Emmick said. "There's a definite theme of re-purposing, reusing. We try not to junk anything."

Much of the furniture is redone with chalk paint, and Emmick or Waters-Piper will often demonstrate in the store how to use it so customers can try it on their own projects.

The shop also features jewelry, cards, purses, linens and home decor — all with a vintage vibe — that often are made locally.

"It's a very realistic thing as a shop to say I really prefer to source my goods from local women who are making the things that I want to sell. I don't have to go the mass-market route," Waters-Piper said. "That's a huge part of our core value."

Waters-Piper said they try to keep items affordable, too, with china cabinets priced between $275 and $300 and dressers between $225 and $250.

"There's a pretty good range of stuff in the $5-to-$30 range," she said, adding that they don't want anyone to be deterred from items they love because of high prices.

Both women grew up appreciating vintage. Emmick said she wore her mother’s skirts from the 1950s in high school and Waters-Piper fondly remembers admiring her grandmother's post-Depression-era kitchen.

Their styles are a little different, with Emmick gravitating toward retro designs and bright colors and Waters-Piper's interest in softer colors and pieces from the 1940s or earlier. Together, they create a nice balance in the store, but the way they met was surprising.

While living near Indianapolis, Emmick unknowingly followed her future business partner online through a blog and business called Blue Birds Goods.

When she moved to Western Springs less than a year ago, she was shocked to see that Blue Birds Goods had recently changed to Nest Vintage Modern and was just a few minutes away. Emmick became a regular consignor at the store until a few months ago, when Waters-Piper asked if she would help her run the store.

"It was great timing," Emmick said, adding that it has helped her learn the area.

Waters-Piper said she has been much happier since leaving her job as a creative director and running the store full-time.

"When I opened the doors to the store the first day, the fact that anybody showed up and wanted to buy something from me was just completely mind-blowing," she said, adding that she now has regular customers who come from as far as Geneva. "People are showing up and the community has been so gracious."

For information or to shop online, visit

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