Some things are just meant to be. That’s exactly how Carole Harvell, design industry veteran, and her husband, Mike, feel about Appleton Mercantile Co. in Old Appleton, Missouri. What started as a quest to find Victorian-esque crown molding for a client, morphed into a life-changing adventure. Now partners of Appleton Mercantile Co., the design duo has turned their passion into profit.

A Business is Born Out of an Unlikely Place

Carole and Mike were commissioned to renovate a client’s bathroom—to bring back the original Victorian feel—and knew time-appropriate crown molding was a must. During a discussion with the client about potential molding sources, the client mentioned he had a slew of old options at a store in nearby Appleton. He provided Carole and Mike with the store key, and they were able to locate the perfect time-appropriate pieces to finalize the project.

Fast-forward a year: Carole and Mike were hired by the same client to renovate another bathroom in his home. He mentioned he was putting the “store”—which hadn’t seen a customer since the late 1980s—on the market and wondered if the design team would be interested in purchasing it. Although not really looking for another project, Carole and Mike gave it some thought and, in the end, opted to make an offer. The client accepted, and the pair suddenly owned an architectural salvage shop chock full of mantles, hardware, stair parts, molding, tubs, sinks, faucets, toilets, doors and windows.

Using Salvage

Thanks to the growing popularity of Pinterest, Houzz and other idea-sharing platforms, salvaged pieces are more popular than ever, and Appleton Mercantile Co., has a plethora of items to choose from.

Carole fondly remembers one project that incorporated salvage items: “I was renovating a bathroom for a customer that required a tub with a finished front and one end—common for tubs from the 1930s and '40s. I recalled a bathtub from a previous client’s home and called to inquire about the tub, but she had discarded it. Persistence paid off, however, as I was able to locate it in Washington and have it shipped. It was the ideal tub and opened the room right up."

Bottom Line

According to Carole, when it comes to incorporating salvage pieces, the bottom line is: Don’t give up. If you're inspired by it, that one piece can make all the difference.

For more information about Appleton Mercantile Co., visit the company’s Facebook page