True North Interior Design and Antiques owners Dan and Cathy Zondervan hope customers find inspiration in the range of unique items at the Petoskey store.
The Zondervans left their lives in Grand Rapids to bring their love for antique remodeling – and a whole host of artistic abilities – to Petoskey. The True North storefront and studio opened last April at the Northview Center along US 31 near Bay Harbor.
Cathy, or CJ, as she prefers to be called, joked that on the day of the big move, a huge snowstorm hit Petoskey.
“It was like saying ‘Welcome to northern Michigan’,” she said with a laugh.
The Zondervans are no strangers to winter weather, as CJ grew up in Boyne City and Dan, Minnesota.
Back in Grand Rapids, CJ studied interior design and went on to run his own nationally recognized design company. Dan was drawn to the historic restoration of the building and spent most of his time in the historic districts. He also owned an antique store in the Grand Rapids area for 15 years. Together, the couple enjoyed traveling to antique exhibitions all over the country. Before the new store, the Zondervans also had a small booth at the back of the antique and consignment store of yesterday and today in Petoskey.
Dan Zondervan said: “We know a lot of people want to retire here, and we thought… why not work here? “
And work, they do. The pair never seem to stop. But for the Zondervans, it doesn’t look like work. Even with the store’s shorter winter hours, the duo can still be found working in the store or creatively in the studio – either for customers or on items for sale.
In addition to the interior design aspect of the business, CJ can often be found sewing, designing upholstered furniture and accessories, and making jewelry. Dan has a knack for refurbishing furniture and displays some of his custom coat racks and harvest tables in the store front.
Importantly, the store is more of a lifestyle / design store than a typical antique store, the Zondervans said.
True North offers everything from large-scale furniture and coat hooks, to vintage clothing and unique jewelry, even wood racks and other nature-inspired items.
The articles come from many places. Some items are bought in real estate sales and auctions, others are “picked” from across the country, and some are even imported.
At first, the couple made a pact to always agree on the items selected for the store.
“And while it’s not always easy, it really made us stronger as a team,” added Dan.
CJ added, “Usually the most exciting items are the ones that are delivered right to our door from our friends and customers who know what we’re looking for.”
Typically, the items chosen for the store are inspired by Northern Michigan and cabin and cabin design elements.
“We found that being here inspired change in us,” Dan said.
He then explained his newfound love for cottage culture and for natural objects such as birch bark and anything that evokes a ‘northern’ feel.
“I think of places around here, even driving an M-119, and how that caused a change in the way we think,” he said.
CJ noted that it also impacted what they were selling and joked that she was surprised at the amount of taxidermy they sold.
Besides being inspired, the couple hope to inspire others to think creatively.
“We hope to show them how to use something in an alternative way, like using a stack of trunks or picnic baskets as an end table or as an architectural piece instead of a painting.”
Courses and workshops are also offered from time to time by the owners. Those interested can contact the store.
Dan and CJ said they were very proud of the past year and the store, but added that they were really proud of each other.
Contact True North Interior Design & Antiques at (231) 622-8620 or [email protected] The store is also present on Facebook, Pinterest, Houzz and Instagram.