Finding a New Treasure in Yankton
21 May 2020
Days filled with “treasure-hunting” with his grandmother and father are fond remembrances of Drew Delvaux’s youth. A lifelong curiosity of history and antiques led to the creation of River City Relics, Delvaux’s store in Yankton that combines a curated collection of vintage and modern furniture with home accents, unique gifts, chalk mineral paint and everything in between.
“I learned I loved creating something beautiful out of something neglected and it brought me great joy to share that with the world,” said Delvaux. “Sometimes, I still have to pinch myself that I get to do what I love every day and share it with people.”
Unique treasure store in Yankton
River City Relics has become a treasure of furniture and home decor boutique in the Meridian District of downtown Yankton. Clients bring in their furniture and they do custom furniture painting to give it a fresh new look.
“People shop with us for our bold design aesthetic and our unique treasures,” said Delvaux, who began painting furniture out of college as a necessity.
That progressed to selling online part-time and now has grown to a full-time career with a third showroom after outgrowing the first two. The 2,300 square-foot showroom was built in the 1940’s and there is an additional 2,300 square-foot workshop in the back. As renovations began, they discovered 18-foot ceilings with the original heavy wooden beams and steel trusses in the process, highlighting the building’s original character and resulting in a perfect setting for a collection of vintage treasures.
“The showroom was a diamond in the rough, but bringing it back to life has been such a transformative experience,” said Delvaux. “There were many unexpected challenges renovating an 80 year-old building, but it has always been a dream of mine to design my own space.”
COVID-19 has impact
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a harsh reality for everyone, and River City Relics is no different. The new storeroom was only open for one week before Delvaux had to make the tough decision to close and focus on online sales with their Facebook page to get through the situation.
“I've been renovating and designing the space since October, so it was heartbreaking to have to close again right when we were ready to share the new space with our community,” said Delvaux. “But we love our customers like family and we want to do our part to prevent the spread of the virus and keep everyone healthy.”
Those customers have provided a tremendous amount of support while they were closed, from purchasing gift cards, participating in live Facebook sales, bringing in custom furniture orders and purchasing our furniture online to local banks providing incentives for shopping locally.
Delvaux began slowly reopening the showroom in early May. Unfortunately due to the pandemic, he was not able to completely renovate the exterior of the building as originally dreamed.
“We are exploring other options at this time, but the community has been very understanding of our situation and still comes to support us even though the exterior is a bit rough,” said Delvaux. “We've jokingly heard "it's what's on the inside that counts" frequently the past two weeks!”
Yankton is special, perfect location
Delvaux, a Yankton native, attended college in Minnesota, but then moved back to be with family. At first, he did not plan to stay, but the charm and supportive community drew him in. He saw a local business environment, particularly of the Meridian District, had created a positive momentum in revitalizing the community with an increasing number of innovative young entrepreneurs working to bring unique, small businesses to the area. Since opening his store, there have been at least four other young small business owners that have joined the area. Their collective marketing efforts and community support has helped extend that momentum, resulting in an excitement in community members for what the small town has to offer.
“Our small businesses support each other here, creating a business culture in Yankton that you can make your dreams come true if you work hard, so more people are taking that chance,” said Delvaux. “We collectively believe the ‘rising tides lift all ships’ mentality applies throughout our community.”
Although he was able to complete the interior renovation, Delvaux said the building still has a long way to go with improvements. While the ramifications of the COVID-19 crisis have placed a hold on his designs for the exterior and the back showroom, he believes it will not keep him from fulfilling the purpose of the store.
“We hope to create a place in the community where people can come to be inspired and appreciate beauty,” said Delvaux.