'Rustic re-sell' shop to open furniture store in downtown Bay City

What started out as a hobby has turned into a full-fledged business for Sarah Castle and Elliot Allen, owners of the soon-to-open Keeping Character shop in downtown Bay City.

It was just a couple of years ago when the couple would drive around with their family, spotting interesting pieces of old furniture on the side of the road. They might stop, throw the piece in the back of their truck and bring it home. Maybe they would refinish the old chair or table right away, maybe they would wait a few months before they got to it.

It was, after all, a hobby.

"We started out in the pole barn at our house in St. Clair, just flipping furniture. We’d find stuff that people throw away, re-finish and paint it," Allen says.

"It graduated into Sarah decorating and designing events."

Now the couple, soon to be married themselves, is celebrating the grand opening of a storefront on Water Street with a party featuring refreshments, coupons, and give-aways.

Keeping Character features the furniture Allen and Castle find – be it on the side of the road or online auctions – refurbish, and sell. It’s not so much an antique store as a rustic re-sell shop, says Allen.

Establishing the storefront will see the owners shifting away from event design and putting their focus more on finding, refurbishing, and selling old furniture – though they may offer their design services here and there.

It was a drive through town that brought Keeping Character to Bay City, the couple falling for a storefront with high ceilings and exposed brick walls.

"This brought her back to her hometown," Allen says of Castle, who grew up in the area.

"The way Bay City is growing and the way people here are going for her rustic style, it was a perfect fit."

Keeping Character is located at 906 N. Water St. in downtown Bay City.

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