Visitors to the thriving stretch of new shops along Milwaukee Avenue in Avondale have another new spot to visit. And this one may offer some unique, last-minute holiday gifts. Finder Maker (2888 N. Milwaukee Ave.) opened in late October, selling an array of vintage and crafted items in an aesthetic, well-curated setting.
The store’s two-part name comes from the dual passions that motivated proprietor Helga Scherer to open Finder Maker: treasures collected through careful thrifting and creations that she handcrafted.
“I have a passion for thrifting and enjoy finding that special item that needs a new home,” Scherer said. Finder Maker offers affordable vintage finds, mostly from the ‘50s through the ‘70s, including glassware and furniture with “a new lease on life,” Scherer added. She also stocks the shelves with renewed items.
The maker side of the store’s inventory comes from Scherer’s pursuits in various crafts. Items on sale depend on what she’s working on. “Whatever I am currently making can be found in the store for sale,” she said. “The handmade items change all the time, so you just never know what you’ll discover.”
Creations from some other local makers have also found spots on the shelves, including earrings from Avondale-resident KC Clayworks.
A Special Connection
Scherer said she prides herself on presenting her wares with an artistic flare. “I love displaying them [Finder Maker vintage items] in a more curated way than you would find in a thrift store,” she said, “and I’ve had many compliments on how cute the store is arranged.”
Holiday shoppers may be able to find gifts that match uniquely well with people on their list, as well. Scherer said she enjoys seeing a unique item vibing with just the right person.
“Since the items are one of a kind, there has to be a special connection between the shopper and the item that they buy — I love the serendipity of this!”
Finder Maker Joins Milwaukee Revival
Scherer, who has owned and lived in Finder Maker’s building for 20 years, said she’s happy to join in the revival along Milwaukee.
That stretch of Avondale, just north of Logan Square, has seen an explosion of new businesses in recent years. New spots range from Monarch Thrift Shop (2875 N. Milwaukee Ave.), which opened in 2015, to museum and event venue the Insect Asylum (2870 N. Milwaukee Ave.), which spread its wings on Earth Day 2022.
“The couple of blocks north and south of me are just hopping — it’s fun to be part of the renewal of our neighborhood,” Scherer said. “I have been excited to see independent businesses where there were shuttered storefronts before.”
Other nearby spots include eco-conscious yarn shop Firefly Fiber (2860 N. Milwaukee Ave.) and houseplant store Rooted, by Pollen (2918 N. Milwaukee Ave.). Some non-insect-themed stores have even joined the revival, such as Kone Ranger Clothing (2903 N. Milwaukee Ave.).
Finder Maker is open weekends 11-5. Photo: Michael Dhar
The area has also enjoyed a healthy pour of new cafes, with horror-themed coffee shop The Brewed (2843 N. Milwaukee Ave.) and bakery-centric cafe Loaf Lounge (2934 N. Milwaukee Ave.) launching this year.
A Librarian Goes Vintage
Scherer, who has worked in the library field for more than three decades, said she’s wanted to open a store for a couple of years. But she waited until she could do a brick-and-mortar version.
“I just couldn’t get excited about opening an online store,” she said. “I really wanted to have interactions with the folks that were buying items from me … to be able to give suggestions and information about the items that they were purchasing.”
That library background helps Scherer provide well-sourced advice: She has a wealth of information about each Finder Maker product. “I just can’t help but research the background of the vintage items I find, and I love to share what I find.”
Finder Maker is open Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Scherer said she hopes to expand hours in spring 2023.
Featured photo: Helga Scherer