Bringing new life to old building
Loot Vintage opens in Waupaca
By Angie Landsverk
When Todd Jones visited Waupaca to look at a property, he and his fiancée found the perfect space elsewhere after driving past it by mistake.
“That’s the building,” he said.
She noticed the for sale sign on it.
On July 2, Loot Vintage and Supply’s grand opening took place there at 219 Jefferson St.
“It’s perfect for us,” Jones said.
Loot includes vintage, gathered and found items.
“Our regular customers affectionately refer to us as the loot,” he said.
Jones started the business a few years ago, and formed a partnership this year with Ryan and Heidi Zwicke.
“The three of us are equal partners in the business,” Jones said. “It’s an incredible partnership.”
Each one brings different skills and talents to the business.
“I’ve been a collector since I’ve been a little kid,” said Jones, who spent most of his life in California.
Both he and and Ryan have corporate backgrounds in technology and the medical industry.
Jones’ corporate career brought him to Wisconsin in 2015.
“I decided to follow my passion in 2016,” he said.
A year later, he opened Loot’s first brick and mortar store in Wisconsin Rapids.
“Ryan and Heidi were one of my early customers,” Jones said. “That’s how we met.”
Their friendship began after Ryan sold his 1950 GMC truck to him.
They have common interests.
Ryan and Heidi have restored two old homes.
“I love the reward of the before and after,” he said. “Every building has a history, feel, personality.”
The three of them believe in honoring history.
Jones said the historical aspect of their new space in Waupaca fits their brand.
A.M. Hansen built the space in 1908.
From 1921 to 1947, Sherman Salverson and family operated an automobile dealership there, Jones said.
They sold the first automobile in Waupaca, he said.
The Stiebs family bought the building in 1947 and operated it as a dealership until 2007.
After that, it was leased to various service dealerships up until this year, Jones said.
Loot’s original location in Wisconsin Rapids was in an old service station that was built in 1930.
That space totaled about 600 square feet.
Now, they have about 6,000 square feet of space.
They also own the vacant lot behind the building.
The business partners plan to eventually turn it into an event space where they will host artists and musicians.
Jones said they want to make Loot a destination.
He explained how they ended up moving the business here.
“We knew we wanted a downtown,” Jones said.
They were interested in one that was tight-knit, creative and progressive thinking.
“We narrowed it down between Ripon and Waupaca,” he said.
The industrial, automobile vibe of the building Jones and his fiancée accidently discovered is the perfect fit for them.
They plan to keep the roll-up doors open as much as possible.
Jones said they bought the building in January and began gutting it.
They contracted out the HVAC, plumbing and electrical.
A friend of theirs did the rough framing.
They did the rest of the work.
Many who visit the business remember its history.
“It’s incredibly rewarding that we saved a building for a useful purpose, Ryan said. “We saved it for generations to come. That has been incredibly rewarding for us.”
The focus for their vintage items in the store is from the 1940s and earlier.
They source from throughout the country.
“We go through barns, farms, houses, businesses, buildings,” Jones said. “It’s fun, but a lot of work.”
Ryan said what they do is not like the television show “American Pickers.”
Jones said they have multiple sources for vintage items and clients who reach out to them.
Vintage is the core of their business.
However, Loot also has a gathered collection that includes their in-house products, such as textiles, furniture and home decor.
They reuse vintage materials, finding new purposes for them.
Heidi does the textile work, and has made bags and pillows out of old Army tents.
Ryan works with wood and metal.
“I love to be creative – taking things we find and reimagining them,” he said. “That’s my favorite part of the business.”
Loot’s found line includes unique home products, accessories and decor items that are typically non-vintage.
They put a lot of effort into staging to show people how they may use items in their own homes.
They are dog friendly. Customers will notice a bowl of water and a bowl of dog treats on the sidewalk outside the store.
Jones said they add to the inventory daily and completely flip the shop 4 1/2 times a year.
Loot is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and by appointment.
People may also visit lootvintageandsupply.com to shop at the store.
Jones said the website serves their customers throughout North America.
The business has a social media presence as well.
“We love what we do. We love the community,” Jones said.