- Associated Press - Sunday, March 27, 2016

LEXINGTON, Mich. (AP) - A shop that gives new life to old materials has given new life to an old building as well.

Beatrice, an upcycled art shop in downtown Lexington, opened about a week ago, the Times Herald of Port Huron (https://bwne.ws/1Rf0gn1 ) reported.

“The shop features everything handmade,” said Laura Lyon, the shop’s owner. “From handmade lotion to sugar scrub to graphite drawings.”

The 900-square-foot shop features nine Michigan artists.

The building was vacant for 18 months before Lyon leased it and previously housed offices. Lyon had to gut the building and remodel it before she could open.

She ripped out the ceilings, hand-painted the floors and built display cases out of repurposed materials to match the theme of the products.

The walls are bright blue and a popping red while the floor is sunshine yellow with flowers painted on.

Old suitcases are nailed to the wall for display shelves and an old wood register reminds customers of the past as they check-out.

“I got started as a hobby four years ago making upcycled sweater coats from thrift store fabrics,” said Lyon, 50, of Port Huron. “The coats are made from 14 different sweaters from a thrift store so each one is unique and no two are the same.”

The coats are colorful and whimsical with a big hood attached.

“I had an art degree from Central Michigan University but never used it,” she said. “I worked for corporate America. I did advertising sales for 20 years and then worked in the medical field for a while. And now I decided that we needed a handmade shop in Lexington.”

Lyon said she was attracted to Lexington because of the number of tourists it attracts and its avid support of the arts.

“Lots of people have already come in and ask if they can bring in their art to sell,” she said. “But I only have room for a few more artists.”

The shop also features homemade dogs biscuits, bracelets made out of old belts, throw rugs made from recycled fabrics, soy candles in vintage tea cups, handmade scarves and custom pet portraits.

“We also have some succulent plants that are potted in containers that were thrown away or found at the thrift store,” Lyon said.

The artists come from Port Sanilac to the metro-Detroit area.

“Upcycling appeals to our growing concern for the environment,” Lyon said. “We take the old, broken things that otherwise would go into landfills and we give them new meaning.”

And the name of the shop, Beatrice, is even recycled.

“It was a childhood nickname of mine that I brought to live,” Lyon said. “My cousins started to call me Beatrice and it just continued on.”

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Information from: Times Herald, https://www.thetimesherald.com

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