YPSILANTI, MI — With doors and locks and a variety of lights hanging from the ceiling, Ypsilanti’s Materials Unlimited is part hardware store, part antique store.
But after 50 years in business, owner and founder Reynold Lowe is ready to move on. The store, started by Lowe’s in 1972, will close at the end of the year.
Although he earned his fine arts degree from the University of Michigan, Lowe began his career in the demolition industry before branching out into salvage.
“I realized that all the treasures were being ground up and taken to the landfill,” he said. “I thought it would be a good thing to save these pieces and make them available.”
Materials Unlimited is a three-tiered collection of antique locks, brass light fixtures, stained glass and mahogany tables. Despite starting the business to salvage “architectural treasures,” Lowe quickly worked with local craftsmen to restore the pieces to working condition.
“I realized that there was a need for people to restore objects so that they could be used as a whole, instead of covering them with paint or broken glass in a stained glass window,” Lowe said.
The store is open to anyone who wants to renovate their home or build a new one with an antique feel. Materials Unlimited carries pieces from the late 19th to early 20th centuries, many of which have been restored to working condition.
Buying antique pieces is often cheaper than having someone recreate them, Lowe said.
“We have the parts for these things,” Lowe said. “It can be a doorknob or all the doors you need and want.”
Lowe’s announced the impending closing on social media in late September, adding that it had sold the Art Deco-style building that currently houses the store.
According to buyer Jamie Taralunga, the venue will become a “musical ecosystem” where artists can create, perform and sell their music. The currently unnamed concept is scheduled to be released in 2024.
While Lowe closes the store, he is not retiring and plans to focus on his art. He works in all mediums, but specializes in 1/12 scale miniatures.
“Fifty years, half a century is enough in the trade,” Lowe said. “It’s a new chapter in my life, but I’m revisiting an old friend.”
Materials Unlimited, 2 W. Michigan Ave., Ypsilanti, is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. The store is currently offering a 25% discount on all items. Find the store online, on social media or by calling 734-483-6980.
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