Old is new again at Three Labs

T-L Photo/ROBERT A. DEFRANK Brad Breisch and Lynn Jeffries are the owners of Three Labs Salvage, where antique materials are repurposed for new uses.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — The old is new again at Three Labs Salvage, where Brad Breisch and Lynn Jeffries have turned their passion for repurposing salvaged items into a business and have opened their doors to local artisans and interested members of the community.

One of their eponymous three yellow Labrador retrievers, Hannah, Stella and Gracie, is usually sniffing around the store with interest, but during Friday’s ribbon cutting the dogs stayed at home.

“That was the inspiration for our name and logo,” Breisch said. “One is usually in the store at any given time.”

Since Breisch and his partner, Tim Crowley, had established a design firm in the upper level of the building at 142 West Main St., Breisch and Jeffries decided to make use of the first floor. It is now filled with familiar items that merit a pause and a second look. A wall hanger for coats might have had its origins as planks from an old barn, or a table might have a vintage sewing machine base. Newer items such as clothes or leather notebooks can also be found.

“We always had a passion for this, and once we purchased the building and had a storefront available to us, we thought, ‘Let’s dive into this and have a little bit of fun,'” Breisch said, adding that they have had prior experience selling online and at various antique fairs.

He said the shape of the finished project often depends on the customer.

“A lot of our items are inspired by clients when they come in. I’ve been making mantles. I’ve been making furniture out of salvaged materials. We now introduce a lot of new items, and that men and women can shop here. There’s a big mix of many items. It’s not just an antique store, and it’s not just a gift shop.”

“We had a passion for collecting,” Jeffries said.

“Anything that’s of interest to us, that’s unique and we can find a new purpose for is something we can bring in and find a new vision for,” Breisch said.

He added that while he and Jeffries make many of the items, they also deal with local artists who provide such ware as lamps and tables.

“We like to support our local artists as well,” he said.

Jeffries also pointed out many handmade pieces such as glassware. They sell a line of Sid Dickens blocks. Breisch said Dickens is a Vancouver artist who handcrafts memory blocks out of plaster.

“He makes so many of them, then he retires (the design) so they become very collectible. We’ve been collecting them eight years ourselves, and we’re an exclusive dealer,” he said. “They’re very popular.”

Breisch said the process of finding their material is an adventure in itself, as they have taken down old barns in search of things to repurpose.

“We get most of our stuff through estate sales and auctions. People have actually started coming to us, bringing us items,” he said.

“Local products are in the most demand, but also the hardest to find, because collectors like to hold onto them. To find local dairy and beer bottles or any advertising becomes challenging, but that’s what people want,” he said. “Ideally we would like to focus on St. Clairsville and Belmont County.”

Breisch said the shop location itself has some history, with origins as the St. Clairsville Gazette newspaper, then the Gazette Grill. The shop still retains some of the earlier elements, with a bar and products on the shelves.

“One of our inspirations is to recreate that old-time hardware store feel,” he said.

He added that he brings an architectural background to the business, with an eye for potential innovation in imagining what might be crafted from salvaged material.

“Our Christmas theme is going to be a 1950s Christmas,” he said.

“This is a cool spot,” Tom Thompson, a customer said. “I like how everything’s repurposed and recycled. Very cool aesthetic. It seems like you’re on a treasure hunt.”

“It’s very unique products in here,” St. Clairsville Councilwoman Linda Jordan said. “I love it all, because I love unique.”

“We’re really glad to have another business in town,” Tim Porter, president of the St. Clairsville Area Chamber of Commerce and president of the City Council, said. “The downtown area is kind of staffed with doctors and lawyers. We don’t have too many of this kind of stuff.”

“I love to see new businesses coming to St. Clairsville and prospering,” Councilman Perry Basile added.

The shop is open Wednesday through Saturday. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. through the week, with 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays. The store can be reached by phone at 740-296-1972.