BUSINESS BEAT: Gowen woman opens niche business, offering unique ‘modern vintage’ items

By Ryan Schlehuber "Scoop" • Last Updated 10:25 pm on Sunday, April 17, 2016

April Petersen celebrated the opening of her new Gowen retail business, Pink & Frillos, on Thursday. The store offers a wide collection of new and vintage items, as well as odds and ends that have been repainted, refurbished and or repurposed. Petersen will also hold classes and workshops for artistic and do-it-yourself enthusiasts. (Daily News | Ryan Schlehuber)


GOWEN — April Petersen has a knack for finding beauty in all things, even things other people may just pitch or burn.

Her creative knack for bringing life back to something that was discarded or broken has led to the opening of a new, unique business, Pink & Frillos, a quaint retail store offering what she describes as “modern vintage” items, both new and old, repurposed, repainted and or refurbished.

One of April Petersen’s favorite items in her new store, Pink & Frillos, is the repainted vintage cabinet that welcomes people as they walk in.

The phrase Pink & Frillos was created by Petersen’s 10-year-old daughter, Mia, who came up with it three years ago on a whim.

“I didn’t have any intentions on owning a store,” said Petersen, who put aside DIY work for a while after having her son, Morgan, now 14, and Mia. “But after my husband, Mike, made a craft room for me in our house, I got back into the whole DIY thing. Then when we saw the For Sale sign up on this building, I told my husband to call on it now.”

Greenville resident Libby Rice, Petersen’s friend of at least four years, said watching Petersen’s dream transform into reality has been wonderful.

“She’s so creative,” said Rice, who is helping Petersen attend to the store. “I think of the process she’s gone through and what makes me happiest is her taking that dream and making it into a reality. She actually did it and it’s real and awesome.”

For Petersen, her intention when she opened the doors on Thursday was to just go with whatever comes her way, with open arms, and to make it a place for everyone to enjoy.

“I’m just like totally open to it and I want to share it with people because a lot of people don’t get the chance to throw caution to the wind. I’m so grateful for this chance that I want to share it with others.”

Since then, Petesen’s rejuvenated passion for DIY projects and bringing old things back to life has kept her quite busy, especially with the opening of the store, which was Thursday.

“I really have a passion for what some people may call discarded junk and or burn worthy and seeing what’s pretty in it,” said Petersen, who is originally from Greenville. “They are like people. We are all, in a way or have been, broken or messed up in some way, but we can be mended. Sometimes it just takes a little paint, so to speak, a fresh perspective.”

Pink & Frillos owner April Petersen touches up a couple vintage chairs that she repainted for a customer. Custom orders on refurbishing or repainting — and possibly even repurposing — items are available through the store.

The building itself, which Petersen bought in September 2015, is a monument to all things repurposed, as it once was a party store — Rees’ Country Store — a small machine repair shop and, in the beginning, a two-room schoolhouse, which Petersen has met local residents who remember attending the school.

Much on the outside of the building looks the same as when Ree’s was open — for now, Petersen quipped — but once stepping inside, ideas on gifts, decorating a certain wall in the home or finding ways to repurpose an old-fashioned item flood a person’s mind. From old cabinets, tables and chairs repainted, to DIY paint, to unique candles to a variety of repurposed items, to an assortment of “odds and ends,” Pink & Frillos gets the creative mind juices going.

“Every time I go in there, there’ something else I haven’t seen,” Rice said. “Every single item is a centerpiece. I’ll catch something at the corner of my eye and I’ll love it. There’s no way of picking something out that is considered ‘the best.’ They’re all awesome.”

Petersen exposed the building’s interior, revealing barn wood walls — giving it a whitewashed look, to boot — that most likely was the decor back in the building’s schoolhouse days.

Pink & Frillos offers a assortment of gift ideas and home decor, including these unique photo holders.

Retail is only one part of the new business, however. Petersen, who began her DIY hobby with making jewelry and sewing, has also designated a workshop area in the building, which she will host DIY classes and provide a place for DIYers who use Pink & Frillos supplies to do their own projects.

“I want people to be inspired when they walk in here,” she said. “Whether it’s just looking, looking to buy something or to be a part of a class, I want people to feel that vibe.”

On Saturday, Pink & Frillos hosted Chalk School by I DO Signs, a class instructed by Amber Van Houwelingen, who offered tips and techniques to making neat, professional chalkboards. Another DIY class on woven rugs will be scheduled soon, as well.

Petersen plans to have a variety of classes available each month. Each class is a limited size, thus it’s on a first come, first serve basis, which people can sign up through Pink & Frillos’ Facebook page.

Also Saturday, Tenniele Petersen (no relation to April Petersen)  displayed her Lennon & Willow boutique items for sale, which included clothes, handbags and jewelry, and the Grand Rapids-based River City Cup & Cake food truck was on hand, selling coffee and pastries.

Yet another feature Pink & Frillos offers every week is an entertaining two-minute video on DIY tips Petersen calls Two on Tuesdays, which is featured on the Pink & Frillos Facebook page.

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