With the perfect balance of vintage and new, Dundee Flea, located on 49th and Dodge streets, restores historic furniture made to last another lifetime.
Six years ago, Robin Heller, owner of Dundee Flea, needed a perfect and promising location for a shop to fuel her passion through renewed furniture.
“We knew we wanted the location to showcase in the older homes of Dundee,” Heller says. “We serve a younger population that are in college, building their first home, all the way to retirement age, who are maybe downsizing and want antique furniture that pairs perfectly with their home.”
Drawn to memories of her past, Heller grew up surrounded by vintage furniture she saw at auctions. She uses this knowledge to evoke memories, giving each piece a new life.
“Part of the fun is not only the accomplishment start to finish, it’s also the excitement of the hunt. The reward on the front end is finding it and then finishing it, but without the hunt, I think my love of this would not be as deep,” Heller says. “I just really hunt for memories.”
Although Heller’s process of finding the perfect piece of furniture is attached to those memories, she says personal pieces are harder to renovate because of the loyalty to the piece. The hunt begins for Heller when she finds the piece that brings emotional attachment.
When clients struggle to build the perfect space, Heller comes in to find which pieces would fit best in their homes. Heller works to not just create spaces for people but fabricate a reflection of that person.
“I believe your house should be a reflection of you,” Heller says. “I feel like if you can’t tell that when someone lives there, then I can make their home so much better and at the end of the day; a home is an embrace for someone. It just really reflects who they are.”
Heller doesn’t restore these pieces all on her own. Dundee Flea also offers young designers a chance to refine their craftsmanship and restoration. They learn how to work power tools and finish and restore pieces to their fullest potential.
With vintage pieces, the price tag usually skyrockets, but not for Dundee Flea. Heller strives to keep her prices affordable to not only fit her demographics, but to maintain her loyalty to sustainability of vintage furniture.
“I try to keep that price range for someone starting out in their first home. They can afford quality pieces that are stylish, fit in their space, and will stand the test of time,” Heller says.
“These pieces have been here for 50 to 60 years, and they’ll last another 50 to 60 years and not end up in the landfills. I want these pieces to find another home with someone who loves them as much as the first owner did. That’s important.”
Not only does Heller enjoy filling Dundee Flea with antiques from wine glasses to custom dressers, Heller also adores the hunt of finding homes to furnish. Filling AirBNB’s in the area with priceless, vintage furniture allows her to showcase the pieces in real settings, giving her clients a piece of the magic.
“I’m not a furniture flipper, as one may call it. I’m a furniture saver,” Heller says. “And I want to save those memories that keep people attached to those they love, giving them a new life.”