It's hard not to be inspired by the artists and makers of the Cleveland Flea. Brilliant, talented, creative. They're tough as bleepin' nails on their ways to making their dreams come true. We began The Maker Series to take a look — behind the scenes, beyond the booth — to see what drives our makers to do what they love and love what they do.
Q + A with Tim + Dwight of All Things for You
All Things for You is run by partners, Tim Yanko and Dwight Kaczmarek. They each bring their own unique talents, interests and personalities to the business. They picked the name "All Things for You," a bit on a whim as they had to quickly create a business when a warehouse full of treasures was given to them to sell. But out of that name, a business that aims to bring happiness to everyone who steps into their shop or booth was formed. All Things translates to the idea that many items can be special-- they're not strictly mid-century modern or antiques dealers. For You represents the idea that anyone can have a welcoming, loving and inspired visit to their shop. For Tim and Dwight, hospitality is first, selling is second. You can find them at their Brick and Mortar Storefront in Old Brooklyn or popping up at The Cleveland Flea events.
Cleveland Flea: How did you decide on the name and brand? Being All Things to All Customers?
Tim Yanko: It was when we started bringing a mix of things, once we curated mid-century modern, traditional, rustic, primitive, farmhouse. We curate items that are special to each of those groups. We have our own aesthetic that mixes what we find using the lens of a curator, designer and admirer of objects. We didn't want to be known for a specific time period, but known by the fact that we're curators, admirers and designers. We want anyone and everyone who works with us to feel that we love and respect them. It's important to us. It goes beyond shopping.
CF: How do you decide what items to bring into your shop?
DK: Style, condition, and do we personally like it? We always say that we can sell ice to Eskimos, haha. What that means to us is that if we truly love something, we're not shy about telling others why they might love it as well. It helps our customers see these items in their homes. And since we have so many repeat customers, we learn their own styles. We can even predict what they might like even before they show up at our shop or Flea booth.
CF: What was your path to beginning your business?
TY: We acquired a warehouse full of All Things, from dishware to office furniture to antiques to rugs to knick knacks, etc. You name it and it was there. We rented a storefront and moved it all in within 4 days. I was literally painting the interior while Dwight and our friends were moving things into the shop.
CF: Were you ever nervous about it?
TY: We didn’t really have time to think about it. We just did it. It just felt right. It was either sink or swim. And then we met The Flea.
CF: What are your roles in the business?
Dwight: The Business. (organized, meticulous, manages the inventory, creates the budgets)
Tim: The Boss. (big ideas, energy, focused on the forward momentum)
DK: We equally design and display, as well as focus on customers. But behind the scenes, Tim is the big-idea man and I'm the one who keeps him organized.
What they share: Display, design, selling, merchandise history
CF: Are you glad that you have a partner in this journey?
DK: Absolutely! We balance each other out so well.
CF: Why do you love what you do?
DK + TY: We get to be creative, and shop. It’s us. It’s ours.
CF: Why does Cleveland need a business like All Things for You?
DK: We bring to people what they can’t go out and get on a daily basis. We hunt and gather, with a designer’s eye. We also help them with their vision.
CF: What's the best / most difficult part of running your own business?
TY: BEST: The community, which then becomes family and friends.
Most Difficult: Doing all the things that take away from what we enjoy, but also dealing all the behind-the-scenes business forms, paperwork, and more that is required to be a business.
CF: What are your goals for the business this year?
TY: We’re in the process of purchasing a large, historic building in Old Brooklyn where we’ll expand our storefront and add rentable artist space, event space and grow our community of dealers. It's a huge leap of faith, but we're so ready and excited for it!
CF: How did you manage to stay sane during May Flea? (Sidenote: This was our worst weather day ever, and though building a creative business looks fun from the outside, there are many storms to weather. One was a real storm, during our May 2016 Flea.)
TY: We were prepared for the weather. We had plan A, B and C. And we used each of them. Getting upset or being negative doesn’t help matters. We had just laugh about it. We still sold merchandise! Customers came and shopped!
CF: Did you see yourself growing up to be a vintage dealer / treasure hunter?
DY: I always wanted a store. Every day, I can create something that my customers will love and appreciate. There’s something to have creativity as a daily practice that really keeps us inspired and feeling challenged.
CF: What's the first big moment where you knew you were headed in the right direction with your business?
DK: Our first flea. It gave us the courage to know that people would actually love and appreciate our style. Up to the point of the first flea, we hadn’t quite launched our business fully. It gave us an amount we needed to pay our bills and continue to grow our new business. It also connected us to so many potential clients, collaborators and friends.
CF: Who inspires you?
TY: My mother. She was extremely artistic, she could visualize things and then make it happen. My Father, as well. In Cleveland, my close friend Bonnie Flinner, the owner of Prosperity Social Club. I've learned so much from watching her build something so magical that also takes so much hard work. Personally, she inspires me immensely, as well.
D: Our customers. It’s knowing that people care about what we do that keeps me inspired. At the end of the day, you’ve made a tiny difference in someone’s life. That’s what it’s all about to me.
"We don’t sell items, we sell memories and good feelings."
CF: Have you learned anything about your business by participating in Cleveland Flea?
DK: It’s the place where you learn what next steps you want to take.
CF: What's your favorite piece of advice as it relates to your business?
TY & DK: Go with your gut, rely on your intuition. And don’t over think things.:
CF: What's one thing people would be surprised to learn about your business?
TY: I compete professionally in skating (roller skates, not ice skates).
DK: And that we're not brothers! We're married.
CF: What's the most amazing thing you've ever found?
TY: A safe full of jewelry at an estate sale.
CF: Anything you've found that you just couldn't sell?
TY: All the vintage colored glass that I collect.
CF: What's your favorite food at the flea?
TY: We never eat because we never have time to leave our booth!
CF: What do you spend your time away from work doing?
T: Skating, gardening and entertaining my friends and family. The CAVS!
D: Art, movies. Relaxing.