by | Sep 21, 2020

Nothing is useless. Everything has a forward-looking purpose. Those are the thoughts Brad Page has as he meanders around old central Missouri farms and homesteads. He studies the dilapidated barns and sheds looking for the perfect pieces of lumber he can take to his home and breathe new life into. A barn loft might produce the perfect wood for a harvest table or a barn door might be transformed into a beautiful Lazy Susan.

Brad and his wife, Callie, own and operate Reclaimed which features hand-crafted pieces ranging from small home decor items such as serving trays to large custom-built projects such as farmhouse tables all made from reclaimed barnwood.

The business based out of an old church in Centralia began in 2014 as a hobby. Brad and Callie were originally inspired by some barnwood Brad’s father gave them from the family farm he grew up on near Sedalia.

“I’ve always loved woodworking and growing up on the farm I was used to being around barns,” Brad says. “It really got us thinking about using old barnwood to make new things.”

Brad was teaching math at Centralia High School by day and creating unique pieces on nights and weekends. He and Callie would travel across the Midwest to vendor shows a few times per month selling their smaller, reclaimed wood pieces and chatting with customers. One thing their business was missing however, was a brick-and-mortar location.

“There were several old buildings open in town, but we wanted one that had meaning to us,” Callie says. “Because Reclaimed isn’t just a business to us, it’s how we live our lives.”

A rundown building by the railroad tracks caught the Pages’ eyes. It was the former St. John’s African Methodist Episcopal Church. The 864-square-foot structure wasn’t being used, was in rough shape and wasn’t for sale.

“Most people thought it just needed to be torn down, but that’s not us,” Brad says. “We made an offer and ended up buying the building in 2018.”

Brad left his teaching job to focus all his energy into Reclaimed and gutting and renovating the old church — of course by using reclaimed barnwood

The following spring Reclaimed opened its doors to the public. Instead of loading up their wooden cake stands, cheese boards and more, Brad and Callie now host an art fair every month in Centralia. Reclaimed is open to the public on the second Saturday of the month. On the grounds outside the old church, Brad and Callie host a variety of artists, food vendors, musicians and more to show off their goods.

“We know how hard it is to be a vendor with a small business. We wanted to make it really accessible for them,” Callie says. “It’s been neat to see it evolve too. It’s cool to see people bring their bag chairs and families on Second Saturdays. They’ll hang around and visit the vendors and sit and listen to music.”

All of the products at Reclaimed — including the home-made masks made by one of the Pages’ five children — are created at their home and shop north of Centralia. There’s a lot of work to do before starting a new project.

“He goes out and is physically taking down the barns,” Callie says. “He’s bringing them to the shop, kiln drying them, taking out the nails and sanding down the wood before he even begins to build the piece.”

The shop is full of different kinds of wood. Brad inspects the lumber on hand and comes up with the next piece. “I don’t really draw up a lot of plans,” the Consolidated Electric Cooperative member says. “Certain things — especially custom jobs — I’ll need some plans, but it usually is dependent on the piece of lumber.”

Reclaimed’s custom jobs take considerably more time than the smaller home decor items. Some of the more popular items include tables, cabinets, porch swings, kitchen islands and countertops.

Brad enjoys the custom work he does when a customer provides worn wood from their family farm or existing pieces around the house. He recalls a lady who brought him her grandparent’s screen door and Brad turned it into a table tray.

“Now, every time she sees that tray, she can reconnect with all of her memories of her grandparents and that house,” he says.

That reclaiming of both wood and spirit is the corner-stone of the business. On the wall inside Reclaimed is an Audrey Hepburn quote: “People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and re-deemed. Never throw out anyone.”

“We use that quote whenever we make a business decision,” Callie says. “We run it through that spectrum.”

That attitude was paramount but did not come easily or happily.

“All of this comes from losing our 2-year-old nephew. Our family was — and still is — completely destroyed over the loss,” she says. “But as corny as it sounds, this has really been about reclaiming ourselves as well. We’re only searching for things that matter to us.

“Sometimes we all feel useless. It seems like we’re screwing everything up and maybe we suck as a person,” Callie says. “But you know, maybe a little bit of sanding, refinement and TLC from someone else and we can see what we’re really worth.”

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