HAMILTON, Ohio -- A new Main Street storefront is bringing new life to old things in more ways than one.
Unsung Salvage Design and Unsung Ink began operating a retail space Thursdays through Saturdays this summer at 212B Main St. The company, which was founded by Justin, Jason and Dondi Carder and Scott Hubbard, already operated a workshop and screen-printing studio in the building.
"We had been playing around with the idea of opening a storefront for a while," said Justin's wife, Mary Carder.
Now owned by the three Carder brothers, the company operates two branches at its Main Street location. Unsung Salvage Design sells furniture, fixtures and art pieces made primarily from repurposed materials. Unsung Ink specializes in graphic design and screen printing.
Products vary from custom entertainment centers to dining room tables to decorative sculptures. Some pieces are born exclusively of the Carders' imaginations. Others are designed based on customer requests.
"They're able to create those pieces that people really want but can't find in chain stores," Mary Carder said.
Unsung was founded in 2013, but the company's roots go back more than 20 years. The Carders' father is a hobby carpenter whose artistic influence carried over to his children.
"Me and my sisters and my brothers have kind of always had the artistic side to us," Dondi Carder said.
As adults, Dondi, Jason and Justin pursued creative endeavors like building and screen printing as hobbies. While remodeling buildings in Hamilton to help start a church, the trio began to see the possibility of a joint professional endeavor.
In 2013, the Carder brothers and Hubbard founded Unsung Salvage Design and Unsung Ink.
"We have always talked about doing some things together … and this seemed to be a way to do it," Justin Carder said.
While the brothers all offer their skills for whatever task is at hand, they each have areas of specialty. Dondi has long designed items out of wood and metal. Jason is particularly skilled at screen printing. Justin has a graphic design background.
They started out making smaller items out of Dondi's garage in Trenton, then operated out of Hamilton Mill before moving to Main Street.
The city from which Unsung hails is one of the greatest influences on its products. More than half of the company's screen-printed T-shirts pay homage to Hamilton.
The influence is subtler but just as present in the furniture and art pieces. The corrugated metal, barn wood and other repurposed materials often come from property owners rehabilitating old houses in the area.
Despite the newness of their products, the sense of history in the repurposed materials is something the Carder brothers like to maintain in their designs.
"We kind of preserve that in our pieces," Dondi Carder said. "Not necessarily knowing the history, but knowing that there's history."
Giving new life to old materials in many ways parallels recent revitalization efforts in downtown Hamilton. The building housing Unsung is one of many recently renovated in the city's urban core.
"We just love the feel, and the way things are heading in Hamilton just really clicks with us," Justin Carder said.
A sense of community and "helping the person across the street" is a big part of that, Dondi Carder said.
The Carder brothers see it in contests allowing Instagram followers to design their latest T-shirt and to an equal extent in city leaders facilitating events like Alive After 5.
"It's just a great sense of … we're all in this together," Dondi Carder said. "It's been a key part of the success of not just us but downtown (Hamilton)."