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August 13, 2013

by Michael Sewall

Many business or product ideas come from the realization that something is impossible, or at least difficult, to find. And when two Oak Park natives married and struggled to find the type of furniture and decor they wanted for their apartment, the idea came together that they could create that go-to place.

“Our first whole year of dating was shopping for furniture, for wedding stuff,” said owner Anne Ramsell Dowd, who married Douglas Dowd in 2012. “We have a love for unique things. We don’t want to buy everything off the showroom floor of Macy’s. We want our things to have more character.”

Their new business, Refind Home, will celebrate its grand opening Saturday, Aug. 31 at 139 S. Oak Park Ave.

Anne and Douglas graduated from Oak Park-River Forest in 1998 and 2000, but they didn’t meet until mutual friends introduced them in 2011. They became friends and married four months later. Anne’s background is in advertising and design and her husband’s is in sales and business management, but they’ve always shared a passion for unique, “funky” items.

While furnishing their Oak Park apartment, the couple went to many local antique shops but couldn’t find the more 1950s to 1970s items they wanted. They ended up getting a lot of stuff from Divine Consign, which Anne says she loves, but that she also wanted other items to mix in with Divine’s upscale collection.  When they expanded the search into Chicago, they were met with more expensive items.

So in December 2012 they began going to estate sales and seeking out unique items to offer, and by the time summer came around they had 500 square feet of storage filled top to bottom.

“The estate sale world is not a fun place to be in the winter on a cold day at 6 a.m., but I love it,” Anne said. “The hunt is going to be difficult for us, but not everyone else. We realize everyone doesn’t like to do the hunting or have the time.”

Refind Home will offer a wide range of furniture, accessories, storage and more in its 1,200-square-foot store. Most items are on their second life, but any new items will be eco-friendly and sustainably made, Anne said. And while many items will remain original to when they were made, they will re-purpose some things, such as French doors being turned into coffee tables.

Everything can be a “statement piece,” Anne said, such as the 1970s record player console she and her husband found for their apartment.

“More people are spending more time in their homes,” she said. “Bring something into your home that makes you feel really happy to be there. Everybody has a little bit of funkiness inside of them that they’re just looking to express.”

Anne remembers walking home from school and passing by all of the local stores. So it made sense for Refind Home to call Oak Park home.

“Growing up in a place filled with independent merchants gave me the mindset of having my own store,” she said. “It’s just the way of life. It seemed obvious that the place would have to be in Oak Park. It’s such a vibrant community.”

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