ReHouse Architectural Salvage in Rochester, New York could be on the market soon
Antique solid wood doors have long been a #1 seller on ReHouse Architectural Salvage.
Over the past 21 years, business owner Sally Kambrath estimates that she has sold about 14,000 items that would have gone to landfills.
It prevented a lot of other things from getting rid of it as well. Door handles, hinges, hardware, windows, bathroom sinks, sinks and fixtures, stoves and antique furniture, kitchen cabinets (some in like-new condition) and all kinds of bric-a-brac.
But now, at 62 years old, it’s just too much. So Kambrath is looking to sell the company and retire.
Her husband, David Kambrath, 63, retired from Xerox nine years ago after working there for more than three decades as a mechanical engineer.
Sally helps with the ReHouse, including running the store’s website. “He’s the most supportive person ever, but that’s not his dream,” she said. “It’s not what he planned to do in retirement.”
Plus, his parents are dealing with health issues, and the couple, who moved here in 1981 from their native Michigan when David was offered the Xerox job, have grandchildren who now live in Rochester, “and I want to do things with them,” he said.
Which means that ReHouse has to go.
The hope is to sell it by early next year. Cambrath has not settled on a price. “We still talk about it,” she said. But it will include the store’s huge inventory, ReHouse name, website, and email list.
It also owns 469 W. Ridge Road, the building where the business is located, and plans to sell it separately. But ideally, whoever buys the ReHouse would also buy the property, not far from the former Kodak Park, she said.
“It really costs a lot to move the company and causes huge losses,” she said. Kambrath will know this because it did in 2012 when the ReHouse was moved from its original location near the RTS transit hub in the city centre. Plus, in terms of location, you can’t beat this place. Fifty thousand cars pass by every day, enjoying these wonderful windows.”
Lifetime savings and reuse
Kambrath’s love of saving, rescuing, and reusing dates back to her childhood in the 1960s in Monroe, Michigan.
“My parents were very frugal,” she said. “I think most parents were like that at the time.”
When she was a child, she and her brother and sister would search through rubbish bins for treasure.
“We’ll find bikes. We found a trumpet once. Stuffed animals—toys mostly,” she said.
After she and David married, settled in Rochester and started a family, Kambrath became a stay-at-home mom.
However, “when my first child went off to college, I had to know something to do.”
She did so after reading a newspaper article about a Chicago woman who had auctioned architectural items directly from old homes prior to demolition. “So, you didn’t need to have a big store,” she said.
Kambrath, who describes herself as a person skilled in home repair, values handmade quality and is environmentally conscious, held her first auction in 2002 at a convict home in North Rose, Wayne County.
“It looked like a dump from the outside, but inside it was amazing,” she said. “The woodwork was very nice. It had two drawers, a nice fireplace mantel, and pocket doors.
A later and much larger assignment involved the auctioning of architectural items from 11 homes near Sacred Heart Cathedral in Rochester that had been demolished when the cathedral expanded.
In 2005, with 56 on-site auctions under her belt, she opened the original ReHouse in 16,000 square feet at 1467 E. Main St. Town centre. The move to West Ridge Road gave the store an additional 5,000 square feet.
From school lockers to granite countertops
ReHouse mainly removes homes to be demolished or renovated, but has also done salvage work on barns, commercial properties, and schools.
Years ago, before Geneva High School was demolished to make way for the Finger Lakes Community College campus, ReHouse pulled out the old cabinets, light fixtures, and original oak trim. “We took 33 truckloads out of there,” she said.
The company also works with nonprofits like American Vietnam Veterans, either by donating salvaged goods to write off taxes or selling the items to them as a consignment.
Meanwhile, Kambrath is still amazed at what homeowners are willing to give away or try to sell her, including granite countertops.
“Even I don’t have granite,” she said, laughing.
“Design Star” discontinued.
Most of ReHouse’s clients are homeowners looking for unique, high-quality decor items or the aforementioned wood doors.
But at least one celebrity sponsored the place. Last November, David Bromstad, who rose to fame on HGTV’s reality competition series “Design Star,” stopped by the ReHouse during a break from filming an episode of his current HGTV show, “My Lottery Dream Home,” featuring A couple from Scottsville.
He ended up buying a circa-1800 tiled wood-burning stove, railings, and architraves for his Miami home. He even showed Kamrath how he planned to use it.
And this is what you’ll miss most, talking to clients about their home improvement projects.
“It’s amazing how people see some of these things,” she said. “They showed us pictures of what they’d done, and it was amazing.”
Reporter Marcia Greenwood covers general assignments. Send your story tips to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @ Marcia Greenwood.