If you’re married or engaged in the Dayton area, chances are you’ve come across Something Old Dayton, a business offering vintage rentals and a studio space in the Davis-Linden Building in downtown Dayton.
The owners, Kyle and Mari Foster, started Something Old Dayton in 2016 from their basement out of their love for antique hunting, creative up-cycling and family collaboration.
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We spoke with Mari, who gave us her insight on Dayton, their growth as a family and a business, and how Dayton continues to inspire creativity.
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Since opening in 2016, how has your business transformed?
We started Something Old Dayton in our basement, with a handful of furniture pieces (that we would now probably never purchase!) and a vision for a creative, collaborative business for our family. As we developed we gradually added pieces to our collection, grew out of our basement, moved into our first studio, experimented with different offerings through trial and error, added a second studio and connected with so many wonderful business people in the Dayton.
Now, we’re about to move into a true warehouse and refine our studios even further to better serve our clientele and we are just amazed at how far our business has come in the last few short years.
What resources (people, organizations, etc.) have aided in this transformation?
We got connected with Dayton’s Rising Tide Society chapter, Dayton Tuesdays Together, shortly before we opened. It was small, and at the first meeting we attended led by local photographer Morgan Anderson, there were only 4 other people. But as it grew and we grew, we met so many local photographers and wedding industry professionals that spread our name, used our services and opened many many doors towards establishing ourselves here as fixture in the creative community. We’ve also been involved in a support group for similar businesses since we started, and it has been an invaluable resource and encouragement as we’ve grown and learned what it means to run a business like this.
What has been your (collective) proudest moments both as parents and business owners?
Parenting-wise, honestly, finally getting our eldest child potty trained has been one our proudest achievements recently! We’re also just so proud to be part of so many couples’ weddings and big life moments, and getting to see their joy and the beauty we get to help create for them. We are also be able to be part of the development of growing photographers and creatives with our studio, which is such a privilege.
What is it about Dayton that interested you both in staying here permanently?
We both went to school at VCU in Richmond, Virginia -- a city that has been transformed not only by the college there (with its high-ranking school of art, Mari’s alma mater), but by its community of artists and creatives from an economically depressed town to a thriving, hip destination.
When we moved to Dayton from the Washington, DC area, we saw Dayton at a point of development that Richmond was in around the time we started school: a smaller city primed for artistic development and the potential for a thriving future. We were eager to be part of that revival.
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How has Dayton shaped your life and your business?
The community here is incredible. There is a real sense of camaraderie in the city -- the idea that everyone can make a difference and help Dayton thrive. We came from the DC area, a very fast-paced, expensive and high-stress area to live. We loved it, but coming out here was a tremendous culture shock. We found it to be so affordable and inspiring, and being in such a town allowed us to start our business in the first place.
From our church family at Veritas Community Church to those in our professional circle, it seems that so many are incredibly invested in the city and the people here, and work towards improving the lives of those around them. It’s a wonderful environment in which to operate our business.
If you could change/improve one thing about Dayton, what would that be?
For three years, we lived in the heart of East Dayton, an area struggling deeply with poverty and opioid addiction. It’s heartbreaking to witness that struggle, and we long for a day when the darkness of drug addiction is lifted from Dayton.
What do you find most inspiring about Dayton?
The tenacity of its residents in the revitalization efforts of the city! We know so many who are incredibly passionate and working so hard towards restoring the struggling parts of Dayton and bringing what’s been forgotten back to life. Their fire seems unquenchable, and it’s amazing to watch.
What’s your favorite thing to do in Dayton? Favorite place to eat? Favorite shop?
Truthfully, we don’t get out much these days -- 4 kiddos under 4 will do that! -- but Mari loves eating at Lily’s Bistro on the patio during the warm months, and we just discovered Big Sky Bread Company, which makes the best Challah and broccoli cheddar soup!
We spend a lot of time with the kids at the Metroparks and we now live just down the street from Hills and Dales. Mari really likes hunting for treasures at the many thrift and antique shops and markets, and perusing the boutiques in the Oregon District when she can get out without the kids for a bit. Kyle’s favorites include grabbing pizza at South Park Tavern and gaming at the DK Effect Bar & Arcade.
What do you see for the future of the Gem City in the coming 5 years?
There’s so much development happening, and we’re thrilled to watch all that unfold! Dayton is working hard to come into its own again, and with some beautiful wedding venues cropping up and so many talented industry professionals growing and working here, we know that Dayton is on its way to being an amazing artistic mecca for Ohio.