The Biz Beat: Schenectady thrift store offers reuse, repurpose potential

Urban ReStyle owner John Notar on Erie Blvd. in Schenectady on Thursday.

Urban ReStyle owner John Notar on Erie Blvd. in Schenectady on Thursday.

Behind a table full of watches, jewelry and other trinkets and just in front of some leather furniture sits a Green 1970 Honda CB350. 

It’s one of the few items you might easily notice in the packed store that makes up URBAN ReSTYLE. 

Others like pins, signs, some of the books or small statues and dishes might not be as noticeable, it might even take a couple trips to the store, which sells items others deemed trash but owner John Notar deems treasure. 

Notar started the store about 12 years ago, just three years into his cleaning and junk removal business Clean Out King. 

“I had so much rollover and I couldn’t donate enough, so I started to sell off stuff and that’s how this all began,” he said. “One business feeds the other business.”

Along the wall of the old Wallace Armer Hardware Building some of the original shelves to the store now hold collections of car and motorcycle manuals. The kind of stuff you just kind find anymore. Paintings of all kinds hang on the wall and in the very back slabs of live edge wood are piled high. Notar said he gets the wood from a customer who has a small backyard logging business. 

“I started buying a couple of boards–I go through 20 or 30 slabs a month just for people who are making mantles or furniture or shelving,” he said. 

In the middle of the store across from a 1950s record player from Germany is the elevator shaft safety door from a building Notar cleaned out on Lafayette Street.

URBAN ReSTYLE is the place to go if you’re looking for something unique or if you want something to reclaim and make your own, Notar said as he pointed out all the various items one could find in his store alongside his dog Jet. 

Years into the business and it’s still thriving, especially after the pandemic — Notar said people picked up hobbies including thrifting and recycling items into new things. 

“There’s too much waste in our society and that’s because people, I think, just take our planet for granted and we can’t just keep throwing things away,” he said. “

Clifton Park resident Pete Hatlee is in the store about once a month. Thursday he was buying an item to help him hand lights or a ceiling fan more easily. 

“I remember this when it was Wallace Armer because back in the day before Clifton park was all developed like it is now you if you couldn’t find something you needed at a local hardware store or family member or something like that you either went to Burnt Hills hardware and if you couldn’t find it there you came here,” he said. “Now we come here for the same reason.”

But the items he really wants aren’t for sale–two house doors that have a bit of a dungeon look to them and a fireplace mantel. 

He said he keeps coming back because there’s always something new or something you missed the last time you were in the store.

“You don’t see everything, no matter how many times you come through and he does cleanouts so his inventory changes all the time,” he said.

Notar said people shouldn’t be afraid to check out the store and see if they can repurpose something in it–he’ll even offer you some ideas on ways to use things. 

“Like sometimes people will say ‘geez I really want to put like a shelf in my spare room but I don’t have enough room for a really wide shelf and I don’t know if I can use something else besides a shelf,’” he said. “I would point them to a live edge slab and maybe a couple of car rims, put them on the ground, put the board over it if you like cars. There’s so many things you can use to kind of serve the purpose but sometimes people have to be shown different ideas.”

Categories: Business, News, Schenectady

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