Alexandria, VA – You know what your place really needs? Chances are that Willow Wright has just the thing to make home feel even homier – with original chairs used by Southwestern Bell Telephone operators, or how about a croquet set? No eccentric home should be without one, and one of the most interesting spots to find hidden treasures is Wright’s shop, Urban Redeux, at 8742 Cooper Road.
“I just have an eye for things that are unforgettable, things that you want to be in the house for a long, long time,” Wright told The Zebra from her shop, which opened a year ago. “There are a few exceptions here or there, but I would say that the majority of our inventory is from the 1940s until now.”
That’s So Cool!
Wright, who owns the shop with her mom, Wendy Wells-Finn, was raised in Richmond in a 19th century house that was filled with historic artifacts. Her father, John Seals, is a historic contractor, filled the home with oddities and curiosities, including the door to an old telephone booth in place of a bathroom door. In other words, Wright feels right at home when she’s surrounded by her inventory. In fact, she admits that sometimes it can be hard saying goodbye to some items that lived in the store for a while.
But that also means that customers can buy anything they want at the store, which is located down Richmond Highway in the Mount Vernon District of Fairfax County.
“I have a French telephone. It’s three feet tall with a rotary dial. It’s gold. Everybody wants that. Yeah, not for sale,” Wright said.
Just Down Richmond Highway
It’s a great little shop off the beaten path, and the prices are hard to beat for only being seven miles away from the City of Alexandria. Those two operator chairs from Southwestern Bell cost $90 apiece, versus upward of $150 on Ebay or Etsy.
Wright is married and has two kids, and has a career in sports medicine from Virginia Tech. She spent years as an athletic trainer and working at orthopedic clinics. She’s always enjoyed going to rummage and estate sales – a habit that only increased after she moved to the area in 2002. It wasn’t long after that she met her husband, Andy, while skydiving!
“If we weren’t skydiving, I was going all around. I’d be gone five hours a day just going to estate sales and yard sales and mapping them out on my map,” Wright said.
In 2017, the untimely loss of a cousin prompted Wright to indulge in a hobby of going to local estate sales for catharsis.
“I just needed to dig. It was very therapeutic for me,” she said. “My own home is very different than this. This is a place for me to bring in things that I might never have in my own home, but that I can envision in the home of someone else. I go as south as Fredericksburg and as west as Winchester for my inventory.”
If you don’t find what you’re looking for at Urban Redeux, the shop is full of handpicked merchandise approved by Wright herself. And she doesn’t do online sales or shipping, so customers will have to show up at the brick and mortar in person. Just like the old days, right?
The shop is open from Wednesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.