Sheehan & Associates, P.L.C.

New Detroit business 'repurposes' materials into custom furniture

In the wake of the city's bankruptcy, one entrepreneur is hoping that the remnants of Detroit's vacant and abandoned homes can serve a new purpose - and help the city and its residents in the process. He has opened a store in the Fisher Building called Workshop. The store makes made-to-order furniture from materials acquired from houses that are no longer occupied.

Right now, Workshop is what's known as a "pop-up store." It is scheduled to remain open through the holiday season. However, the owner, James Willer, says he hopes the business will grow and employ more people. He is working in partnership with a group called Reclaim Detroit, which he helped start in 2011. The group's goal is to salvage wood and other materials from the city's almost 80,000 abandoned houses and build other items with them.

Reclaim Detroit uses a process known as "deconstruction" in which a house is taken apart and materials that can be reused are "repurposed" into other items. In addition to the custom-made items born of these salvaged materials, Workshop also sells wooden tables and benches made from these remnants. Reclaim Detroit is supplying the business with materials it retrieves from abandoned structures.

By using these "repurposed" materials to make new furniture, Workshop not only makes use of the many building materials going to waste in the city, but helps the area economically and provides skilled work to people in need of a job. Since its bankruptcy, Detroit has become known as a "do-it-yourself" city, with more people focused on making, growing and selling local products to help rebuild the city's economy. You can't get much more local than selling items made out of Detroit homes.

All Detroit businesses, no matter how large or small, need solid legal advice to help deal with their business planning, and issues surrounding employment and government regulations. A good legal advisor is also essential to have if and when a business owner decides to expand or diversify the business in the years ahead.

Source: Fox News, "Artisan shop with a re-purpose: Detroit store to sell furniture made from vacant homes" Perry Chiaramonte, Nov. 29, 2013

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