Brew City Salvage

Owners: Caleb Nickel and Ross Severson

Established:  2015

Located at 431 E North Street

Brew City Salvage officially opened their Waukesha doors for business January 2015.  The concept started in 2012 when Caleb Nickel decided that he wanted to start his own business.  The turning point was when his cousin, Ross Severson, joined him.  Vintage furniture, especially mid-century modern, was starting to take off, so together they took a chance and started Brew City Salvage (BCS), selling designs from the 1950s to the 1970s.  Their store also contains hand-crafted furniture from local vendors, resale furniture, and an eclectic inventory originating from a diverse range of sources.

Caleb is proud to say that, “We make furniture as well.”  One of the unique aspects of BCS is that they reinvent furniture out of reclaimed wood.  A unique approach to their furniture makeovers is that they will take an older dresser and reface it with reclaimed wood.  Instead of building something from scratch they obtain a good piece with good bones, and then give it a face lift.  Their materials originate from a variety of sources including wood from old barns, or plaster lath from recent remodel projects.  Materials that are usually discarded are transformed into something amazing.  “Someone will let us know where material is, or we’ll drive by and see some incredible materials in dumpsters which might surprise most people.  It really is true, one man’s trash, is another man’s treasure.”  Brew City Salvage will also use new wood and distress it to conform to the design or enhance the personality of the piece. 

The store’s success is due to its founders.  Self-taught, if you ask Caleb and Ross how they do what they do, they’ll tell you that they just do what they think “looks cool”.  Caleb says, “I’ve always worked with my hands and have always worked at blue-collar jobs.  I’ve never been a carpenter, but I’ve worked with tools all my life.”  Ever since Caleb was a young boy, he would accompany his mother to  neighborhood rummage sales or resale shops.  Linda Nickel was thrifty as well as a smart shopper.  She wanted furniture with character and seldom bought the “new stuff”.  Her influence can be felt as you peruse the furniture gallery as each piece seems to have a story to tell.

It was easy for Ross to get involved in the business; he had already been collecting mid-century style furniture before the store launch.  At first Ross would go to flea markets with Caleb, who was trying to grow the business.  Soon Ross was selling his own merchandise.  Discontent with his current employment, Ross decided to leave his job and started fulltime over a year ago. 

Their popular pieces range from wood faced dressers to Wisconsin shaped coasters that are really popular at Christmas time.  Especially rewarding is when a visitor finds the piece they’ve been relentlessly searching for and haven’t been able to find.  Ross recalls a rare find when a woman entered his store and found a vintage chair her father-n-law had owned when he was young.

As Caleb and Ross continue to unleash their creativity, the customer base outside of Waukesha is growing as shoppers travel from Chicago and Madison to purchase one-of-a-kind furnishings.  Almost any element can be incorporated for custom orders.  To assure the custom order meets the requirements of the customer, pictures are sent during the build before the piece is finalized.  “Modern design will always be in, Ross says, our main focus is vintage furniture.”  According to the national trends he is correct in that interest in Vintage furniture, especially mid-century modern, has exploded, particularly with the Millennials. 

Brew City Salvage is proud to call Waukesha home.  “It’s a great historic city with a rich culture.”  Only a few blocks from the Farmer’s Market, Brew City Salvage is a shop found only in Waukesha and we’re excited to welcome this incredible talent into our community!