Like a Paris salon, this indie shop in Montclair, NJ is a hub for local artisans to discuss art and life.
By Sarah Emily Gilbert
“What is this place?”
You’d think this reaction to a shop would insult its owners, but not Chris and Aimee Danchise of Basemeant WRX. In fact, it’s the couple’s favorite inquiry from first time clients who walk into their space in Montclair, New Jersey.
“We aren’t your typical shop. We are a retail/gallery/event space, so it takes a minute for people to ‘get us,’” Aimee, a former handbag and accessory developer, explains. “But once they do, I want them to feel welcome so that they end up sitting on our retro orange sofa with their coffee, meeting their neighbors, and supporting our amazing vendors.”
Luckily, it doesn’t take long to “get” the Danchises. The first clue is in their store name. It’s called Basemeant WRX because Chris’ furniture workshop is in the basement and “meant” because they wanted the store to show their intention. Among Chris and Aimee’s goals is to support Montclair’s art scene.
“Our shop focuses on local artists and makers because we honestly have such a wealth of talent around us, and our community really cares about supporting and shopping small,” says Aimee. “All of our featured artists and vendors have become our friends and partners, and that is partly because we can actually have lunch or a cup of coffee (or a drink) and hash out what is right for their brands and product.”
The next clue to the Danchises’ passion is their furniture shop. When they moved from the city to their home in Bloomfield, NJ, Chris, a toy designer and developer, started building and refinishing shelves, chairs, and the like to fill the space. Putting their Drexel University Design and Merchandising degrees to use, they decided to create furniture pieces together and sell them on Etsy. This led them to open their current shop on Walnut Street, where Aimee runs the business operations and Chris builds the products. Whether it’s a 100-year-old dairy barnwood dining table or a vintage bar cart, all of Chris and Aimee’s designs support their slogan, “We like our furniture like we like our dogs, rescued.”
“We are huge supporters of #adoptdontshop,” says Aimee. “We have two rescue dogs of our own that changed our lives. When we started our business, we wanted to focus on refinishing and using furniture and materials that would otherwise be thrown out, not just because of the environmental impact, but also because most older furniture is extremely well made using much better materials than those that are used today. So the concept of ‘rescuing’ dogs applies to ‘rescuing’ furniture that could otherwise end up in a landfill somewhere.”
The duo recently turned a client’s old lawyer desk into three modern pieces: a streamlined desk, a rolling file cabinet, and a vanity. Last year, they made a live edge slab out of reclaimed wood that converted from coffee table height to dining table height. All of Chris and Aimee’s creations are conversation pieces due to their indie look and handmade quality.
In addition to custom furniture, local artisan goods are sold at Basemeant WRX. These tiny treasures include The Therapist Candles, based out of Clinton; Just Jenny’s Love paper goods, based out Hasbrouck Heights, and Beth Goobic Pottery based out of Pompton Lakes.
Chris and Aimee also host Gallery Nights, where they showcase a range of artists from abstract painters and photographers to musicians and food vendor. Their recent art exhibitions included Ireland-native Ruth Meagher’s 100 Mandalas, Colleen Baird’s Study in Florals, and Luke Waldrum’s Little Pieces Project.
To see what’s in store at Basement WRX, head to 101 Walnut Street in Montclair, New Jersey or visit www.basemeantwrx.com.