Pam Michel leans back, assessing a recently acquired light fixture. The fixture is an ornate antique chandelier. It’s missing prisms and the finish is tarnished. As she picks up a brush and starts scrubbing it she says, “I picked this up last month. It’s a great piece, but just needs a bit of work.”
After collecting antique lighting needing rewiring, Pam wondered if lamp repair was something she could do herself. “I started taking the lights apart and drawing diagrams of what they looked like, and then I would put them back together. It was all self taught,” said the owner of Mercantile on Main, an antique and vintage shop on Main Street in Fort Wayne.
Pam’s ingenuity has led her to some big jobs, one of them restoring and rewiring all the lighting at Brookside (formerly the Bass Mansion) on the Saint Francis campus. “That was a big under taking. It took me over a year to complete the project, but I was so humbled and honored to be a part of it.”
Pam spent the next 20 years owning an antique shop, working from home, and traveling for antique shows. After passing a dilapidated property on Main Street for several months, Pam and her husband, Bob, decided to plant their roots in downtown Fort Wayne again and purchased the property from the county on back taxes in 2009.
“(Mercantile on Main) was definitely a labor of love. My husband and I had experience working on old homes when we used to rent out properties in West Central.”
It seems that Pam has a soft spot for old items in need of repair. But not all items she finds were once in near ruins. She enjoys items that would fall under the vintage or retro category; funky furniture that has been painted with chalk paint, a mid-century credenza and dining room table, rustic garden accents, a collection of planters and collectables, as well as a plethora of lighting, from wall sconces, table lamps, hanging fixtures and floor lamps. Pam does a lot of custom work with furniture and lighting. “My garage is full of project pieces!”
Pam laughs, “but it’s always cool to see the potential in all of them.”
Article provided by Mercantile on Main, 1753 West Main Street, Fort Wayne, www.mercantilefw.com