March 14, 2013 | Vol. 116 -- No. 47

Everything is for sale at Against the Grain

It was never Cheney resident Debbie Anderson’s intention to open a store. It was the clientele at her current business that finally drove her, along with daughter Aly Avey, to open Cheney’s latest foray into the antiques genre, Against the Grain.

Aly Avey
Against the Grain owners Debbie Anderson (middle left) and daughter Aly Avey (right) celebrate completion of the store’s remodel with grandparents Larry and Sandi Lickford and Debbie’s husband Brian

Anderson is owner along with husband Brian of Cheney’s Holiday Inn Express, whose guests often peppered her with questions about what the city has to offer.

“People kept asking, ‘Where can we eat and do you have any unique, quaint places to shop?’” Anderson said.

Anderson previously owned an interior design business in Spokane, but after giving it up to move to Cheney to operate the hotel felt a need to get back in that business. Avey, an Eastern Washington and Gonzaga University graduate, had a desire of her own other than her current occupation as a child and family therapist.

“I just wanted to grow up and do arts and crafts,” she said.

Sensing a need and an urge, the pair got the opportunity when the Tree of Knowledge bookstore shut its doors last year. Anderson and Avey leased the building at 409 First St., and began clean up and remodeling in October.

“Lots and lots of hard work and lots and lots of paint,” Anderson said.

The pair did the work themselves, with assistance from family including grandparents Larry and Sandi Lickford. They also got permission from several area farmers to tear down some old barns and storage sheds to use the woodwork as interior awnings, doors and other accoutrements.

So how do you outfit an antique store?

“It’s a secret society,” Avey said laughing.

Frequenting other area shops gained them access to that society, getting guidance from owners like Ron and Lori Mann of Mantiques in Wilbur on wholesalers to contact for store-brand foods and other items. Avey scoured Craigslist looking for furniture deals and parts, doing the restoration work herself, while Brian handled the antiques search.

“He’d say, ‘Come on, let’s hook up the trailer and go picking,’” Debbie said.

Their search even took them as far as trips to Las Vegas for antique shows. Eventually Anderson and Avey gathered enough products to fill seven sections in the store: barbecue, garden, kitchen, movie, bedroom, Western and nautical with items ranging from knick-knacks, toys, dishes, linens and accessories to appliances, furniture and custom woodwork.

“Everything we do is recycled from something,” Anderson said. “Everything is for sale.”

There are new products like store brand-labeled pepper jellies, barbecue rubs and sauces along with gourmet chocolate and popcorn Avey said is “to die for.” There are also soaps and lotions made by local artisans, along with goods sold on consignment; something Anderson said was another goal for Against the Grain.

“That was the idea, to showcase the local talent,” she said.

Anderson said they do custom gift baskets – a family specialty – as well as custom furniture refinishing, with a shop downstairs, and sign work.

“We try to have a little something for everybody,” Avey said.

Against the Grain did a “soft” opening on March 1, and plans a grand opening and ribbon cutting this Friday, March 15, at 11 a.m. Against the Grain can be reached at 235-4242.

John McCallum can be reached at jmac@cheneyfreepress.com.

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