Pinetree Primitives & Rustic Riches: Upcycling before it was cool

Longtime artist, designer and crafter Cathy Lillie was an “upcycler” before it was cool. Her business, Pinetree Primitives & Rustic Riches at 334 Fourth Street NW, Canton, features handmade gifts and home décor items made from reclaimed, reconfigured and re-imagined objects and materials.

Longtime artist, designer and crafter Cathy Lillie was an “upcycler” before it was cool.

Her business, Pinetree Primitives & Rustic Riches at 334 Fourth Street NW, Canton, features handmade gifts and home décor items made from reclaimed, reconfigured and re-imagined objects and materials.

Lillie’s daughter Ashley Wahlert, who co-manages the store, describes upcycling as “the art of taking something old, putting your own spin on it and making it something new.”

“My mom has been doing this since she was 14,” she said.

“It just came naturally to me,” Lillie said. “I’ve always tried different things.”

Lillie said they acquire many of their items through auctions. She also creates things from scratch.

“We make custom-made stencils from Mylar that can be used over and over,” she said. “It’s (inventory) always changing. It’s always different.”

At the urging of some fellow retailers, Lillie and Wahlert moved Pinetree Primitives from the 3700 block of Cleveland Avenue NW into the heart of Canton’s Arts District in May—and they couldn’t be happier.

“It’s so much fun down here,” Wahlert said. “There’s always something going on in Canton. It’s a nice blend of people down here.”

“People who come in say they love to see Canton getting more shops like this,” Lillie said. “They want more.”

Lillie lauded building owner Michael King for maintaining the building’s integrity.

“These are the original floors and ceilings,” she said. “It’s so beautiful.”

“It was a switch for us,” Wahlert added. “Most of our customers are not Cantonians. We go an hour north and south.”

Lillie said a sizable portion of their customer base comes from Pennsylvania and even New York.

Wahlert noted that First Fridays are often so busy that some customers return on Saturdays to make their purchase of larger items such as furniture.

Shop Fourth Street, a group of downtown merchants, has launched “4th Saturday on 4th Street,” a series of sponsoring special events on the fourth Saturday of each month from 5 to 9 p.m.

“It’s hard to keep a business going,” said Lillie, who also works as a medical assistant.

Lillie said she also gets help from her husband, and also her mom, Cynthia Browder, who finds and buys items for the store.

“She’s helped me for many years,” Lillie said.

In addition to Pinetree Primitives, Lillie and Wahlert also show off their wares in craft shows throughout the state. As a teenager, Lillie sometimes had difficulty with craft shows taking her seriously.

“They’d say, ‘We’ve never had anybody so young,’ ” she said, laughing. “I’ve been doing craft shows for over 40 years. My signature pieces are my stenciled signs and furniture. We make our stencils here to fit whatever sign size you may need. We carry farmhouse antiques, shabby chic and of course primitive décor items.

“Ashley and I have been blessed to open this unique shop next to great shops. Fourth Street is truly a unique place to shop.”

Wahlert said she recently found one of her mother’s creations in an antique store: It was a golden angel pin made from a portion of a spoon handle.

“We’re always trying to find something to keep,” Lillie said, “instead of throwing things away.”

Pinetree Primitives is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, noon to 5 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. For more information, call 234-300-2579 or visit pinetreeprimitivesohio.com.

Where to buy

The Repository
Select Rite Aid Stores
Spee-D Foods
Buehler's Fresh Foods
Fishers Foods, including 44th Street NW, Tuscarawas St. W, Fulton Drive, Lincoln Way E. and Cleveland Ave. NW locations
Aultman Hospital Gift Shop
Mercy Medical Center Gift Shop
Gervasi Vineyard Marketplace
Carpe Diem Coffee Shop, downtown Canton and Belden Village Mall locations
News Depot
Avenue Arts Marketplace
Yum Yum Tree Alliance
Grapes in a Glass