Blossoming from hobby to full-fledged business, Chalked and Polished brings custom furniture to downtown Laramie.
Not your typical furniture and home decor store, owner Melissa Condon started rehabbing, refurnishing and restoring old furniture as a hobby once her second youngest of four kids started to get more independent.
Once she started, she couldn’t stop, and she quickly ran out of room for all her pieces. Condon said she sold a few on Facebook, and word about her farmhouse-style furniture quickly spread.
“Three-and-a-half years into it, someone asked me to do 11 custom pieces for them, no joke,” she said. “At that point, I was like, ‘Wow, this is definitely something more.’”
The storefront on Grand Avenue happened to be available right around the same time, and Condon said after seeing the exposed brick and original flooring in the historic building, it was an easy decision.
“Being able to do my own creative thing — that to me is therapy, it’s total therapy,” she said. “It’s fun, and I’m lucky that I get to do something that’s fun.”
It takes multiple long hours — sometimes more than 10 — to make one of the hand-painted pieces that now fills her store downtown. Condon said the complicated process involves “fixing a piece if it’s broken, cleaning it, sanding it, getting it ready for paint and then painting it,” followed by a sealing and sanding routine.
“I know it’s cheesy, but I let pieces speak to me,” she said. “I try to keep it fresh and inviting and not so boring with the same color over and over again.”
While Condon said she can make some of the minor repairs to the antique pieces herself, her husband, Dan, helps with the major woodworking projects. One of his most popular pieces are large, wooden ladders used to store blankets.
“He’s definitely my behind-the-scenes guy,” Condon said.
While custom orders for the chalk-painted furniture continue to boom, Condon admitted the storefront is still gaining its momentum.
“I feel like people still don’t 100% know that we’re here, but that’s going to take time; it’s only been three months,” she said. “When people do find out that we’re here, a lot of people have been wanting custom work. That’s a huge thing that I’m doing.”
Condon said she loves the freedom and creativity that stems from custom pieces and helping to “bring someone’s vision to life.” The Laramie community, she added, has been very supportive, especially as she juggles the business with her busy family.
“They’ve been really supportive, the community has, for sure,” Condon said. “I love downtown Laramie, it’s so much fun down here.”
She loves downtown so much that, although custom work is keeping her busy, she’s not in a hurry to grow out of her space.
“I feel like I’m being realistic about it,” Condon said. “I know small businesses are hard in Laramie. I’m giving myself a year in this space to see what happens.”
Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Chalked and Polished is doing a raffle to win a breast cancer themed dresser this month. Tickets are available until Tuesday and at the store located at 207 Grand Ave.