When Shari Currie began furniture shopping for her new home in Kenwood in 2017, she struggled to find pieces that spoke to her style and identity.
“I felt like there was a lack of diversity when it comes to two different spaces; the styling of the space, mixing vintage to modern pieces, as well as seeing primarily African American art and artists in spaces,” Currie said. “So that is where my niche came from.”
Currie’s niche soon grew into Recycled Modern, a vintage and modern home decor store and art gallery that highlights “the voices and stories of local artists from diverse backgrounds… and lifestyle goods with a focus on Black creatives.” Recycled Modern has two locations, one in Lakeview and another in Hyde Park, the latter of which opened its doors at 5231 S. Harper Court on Nov. 26.
A former nonprofit event planner, Currie began her vintage project in 2018 with various pop-up shops throughout the city — including a 2018 flea market in Harper Court — and collaborations with artists who she met through nonprofit work. In 2018, Currie opened her first storefront in Lakeview.
Because she always aspired to operate a second store in Hyde Park, when the Harper Court space became available earlier this year, Currie immediately seized the opportunity.
“It’s a different vibe that you get when you step into Hyde Park. It’s like its own little city that gives you the energy and the push to keep going and I wanted to be a part of that,” Currie said. “I wanted to be in Hyde Park because I felt the connection and the energy, I feel like Recycled Modern just belongs in Hyde Park.”
Last winter, Currie participated in the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center’s Small Business Growth Program to develop strategies for the expansion of her business. The 10-week program matches U. of C. Booth School of Business students with local entrepreneurs.
Currie said the Hyde Park shop embodies her vision for Recycled Modern: displaying local artists, showcasing vintage and up-cycled furniture and goods with a dash of modern pieces. In Lakeview, her shop features more modern art and furniture.
Furniture pieces include vintage movie theater chairs and chest trunks, and art offerings include a series of portraits of influential Black politicians, activists, musicians and writers by Alisha B. Designs.
Currie said she loves learning about the artists and their creative process. Beyond selling her goods, she said that she enjoys connecting with neighbors and hopes that they value her efforts in contributing to the Hyde Park community.
“I love connecting with the artists, connecting the artists to the community and connecting the community to the shop,” Currie said.
For the foreseeable future, Currie plans to spend most of her time at the Hyde Park location, along with her two part-time employees and several of her family members that help out at the store.
“When you walk into Recycled Modern, I want you to always feel at home and comfortable,” Currie said.
Recycled Modern, 5231 S. Harper Ct., is open by appointment Monday through Wednesday. The store is open for walk-ins Thursday and Friday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.