WRITER | CANDIE CONAT
PHOTO | STRING OF PEARLS
Just off US131, in the very small town of Elmira, sits a small but unmistakable building that is home to a time-tested business. String of Pearls, a home décor and furniture shop, has been at home in the very same building for 32 years.
When the flower shop where Jeanne Polak worked closed all those years ago, she took a chance and decided to sell lake and cabin art at a local show with a friend. It was a slow start that day, but by the end of the show, they were sold out. At that moment, Polak realized the demand for eclectic home décor and furniture was strong, and she went in search of the perfect location to set up shop. The building she found had housed Elmira’s original post and telegraph office in the front, with living quarters for the woman who ran it in the back. It was perfect.
String of Pearls is an interesting shop for anyone looking to decorate a home or cottage. With a selection of inventory that is extensive and ever-changing, Polak says her most popular items are signs and wall art. The biggest seller of all is metal yard art from Mexico. Each spring, she buys a semi load of these decorative pieces, and by the end of summer, it’s gone.
The metal yard art ranges from small 12-inch pieces to animals that tower over 12 feet high. Flamingos, giraffes, dogs, cats, and roosters are the most popular. Last year, Polak sold a 12-foot rooster to a local woman who placed it in her yard, and all summer, people visiting the shop would mention seeing that rooster moved around the woman’s property.
That said, lake, cabin, and boat themes are the focus of interior décor at String of Pearls – that and the shabby chic rehabbed furniture that sells like hotcakes. Polak and her husband Chris take furniture in on trade and work with pickers who show up with truckloads of solid wood furniture. This guarantees a constantly growing and evolving selection of furniture just waiting to be transformed into works of art. Polak’s most popular pieces are china cabinets, buffets, desks, dressers, and end tables.
Other highly sought-after items are the farm tables Chris creates. He builds the tables to custom measurements from various hardwoods and applies custom finishes. Refurbished distressed chairs can then be paired up with the tables for a complete set.
Over the past 32 years, String of Pearls has grown a huge cult following. People truly love their products and the quality craftsmanship and return year after year to see what’s new. That following continues to grow with each season, and the Polaks would love to add you to the list! Look them up and follow them on Facebook for this year’s official opening date.
String of Pearls
8836 M32, Elmira MI 49730