- Associated Press - Saturday, February 6, 2016

BARGERSVILLE, Ind. (AP) - Even in the brutal wind and drooping temperatures of an Indiana winter, a line of dedicated antiquers formed outside a Bargersville warehouse.

They waited for the first shot at what was inside. Dozens of old doors and windows were to be picked through. Bins filled with hardware, such as porcelain doorknobs and decorative hinges, would provide fodder for Pinterest projects.

An 18-foot-long canoe could be the perfect accent for someone’s rustic lodge look.

The collection of miscellaneous antiques, castaways and reclamations has been put together by a pair of local pickers, Diane Obergfell Gindling and her husband Jeff Gindling. The couple has put their keen eye for salvageables into a new guerrilla business venture.

Small Town Salvage is a monthly pop-up event outside of Bargersville, bringing hundreds of people to scour their displays and bins looking for the perfect accent for their homes.

Their popularity has stemmed from the increasingly trendy concept of up-cycling the old into something new.

“We have to go out and physically hunt for this stuff. We’re looking for the barns, driving around the country, cold-picking,” Obergfell Gindling said.

Inside Small Town Salvage, Obergfell Gindling and Gindling have worked hard to compile goods people can find nowhere else.

A massive wooden back-bar, still lined with apothecary bottles, scales and druggist tools, came from a pharmacy in Edinburgh.

What used to be a gas station service booth has been refinished, cleaned and reassembled. A customer wants to put it into her lake house as a small office.

Architectural salvage, such as corbels and columns rescued from porches, is incredibly popular now. The shop has also found a need to stock dozens of doors and windows, since those tend to be some of the most requested items.

“People love doors and windows for the ideas from Pinterest,” Obergfell Gindling said. “People are also reusing some of these intricate doors in their houses after redoing them.”

Gindling has been salvaging for years. A member of the Richmond Fire Department, he would hunt for unique items in his spare time. Antique dealers from Indianapolis would call on him to purchase what he had, turning his hobby into a nice side business.

“The problem was it was hard to get them to drive that far,” Gindling said.

Gindling and Obergfell Gindling, a Bargersville resident, met each other through the community of salvagers and pickers in Indiana. As their collections of reclaimed items grew, they decided that they needed a separate storage space to display everything properly.

They found an empty warehouse with partially finished rooms just south of Bargersville, and started moving their treasures in. Initially, it was just going to be storage, where they can bring dealers who wanted to buy items.

But once they set everything up, they thought the warehouse also could support a public show every month, Obergfell Gindling said.

“We just thought we’d see how it’d go,” she said. “There was no grand plan or business strategy, just a whim.”

Small Town Salvage has been in operation since 2013.

The main salvage is handled by Gindling and fellow picker Ron Wood. Gindling, who still lives in Richmond, has unearthed a treasure trove of items from the city’s current program demolishing derelict old houses.

Other items come from Gindling and Obergfell Gindling actively searching it out. Some people will call the couple, informing them about a barn clean-out or moving sale to see if they want to pick it over first.

But most of the time, it is instinct that lands them the best items, Obergfell Gindling said.

Vacations to other states are spent hunting through barns and garage and yard sales, sniffing out repurposed or salvageable pieces.

The couple have enough experience that they can spot a potential picking site just by driving by. Out in the country, if they pass by an old barn that looks like it’s no longer in use, they’ll stop, knock on the owner’s door and ask if they can look through.

The couple received a call from an owner in Frankfort, who had some antiques in a building on Frankfort’s courthouse square. They drove up to check out the third-floor office, where they found six “harvest tables” - 12-feet-long display counters that are in high demand in the salvage community.

Still, there was a catch.

“We had to bring them down. They were on the third floor of this building with no electricity, in the dark, in dust so thick,” Obergfell Gindling said. “We had to haul them out of there ourselves. But we did well with that find.”

Another time, Obergfell Gindling and Gindling were driving along a route of garage sales, and one property piqued their interest. Speaking with the owner, she invited them into the barn that had been in her family for generations.

“We were in T-shirts and flip-flops, totally not dressed to dig. But we got in there and ended up with a trailer-load of stuff from her,” Gindling said.

On occasion, one mildly interesting find yields a much more exciting treasure behind it. There have been times when they’re salvaging through a house, and pull off an ornate mantle to reveal old coins or documents.

“It’s a treasure hunt,” Obergfell Gindling said.

Every month brings a new load of furniture pieces, antique decorations and salvaged lighting fixtures, railings and other items. Very rarely do the same items end up in sales twice in a row, Obergfell Gindling said.

Family and friends come out to help guide customers through the warehouse, answer any questions they have and load their vehicles with purchases.

They work as a team: Gindling finds and hauls in the big items that make up the centerpieces of the shop, while Obergfell Gindling stages them to appeal to shoppers.

“We move things out and move things in. I’m more of a stickler of having everything organized, but people just love to dig for stuff,” Obergfell Gindling said.

Visitors have come from as far away as Georgia and Texas for the pop-up store. Though the once-a-month schedule frustrates some local customers, it helps to make each sale an event in the picking community.

“When you’re in this business, you get to know all of the other people who are into antiques,” Obergfell Gindling said. “It’s a small group, even those from other states.”

Gindling and Obergfell Gindling would like to see their business expand. The two barns in Bargersville already are full, and said they don’t see a shortage of items coming any time soon.

Though the business is hard work, it’s a passion for the couple. Their life just wouldn’t be as rich without their hunts.

“Some days we think we’re going to hang it all up. But then we think, what else would we do?” Obergfell Gindling said.


Source: (Franklin) Daily Journal, https://bit.ly/1nEDlcs


Information from: Daily Journal, https://www.dailyjournal.net

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