Wild Things Brings Vintage Decor To New Homes

Wild Things Antiques owners David Wenzel and Joshua Larson
Wild Things Antiques owners David Wenzel and Joshua Larson

The name came from the obvious place, from the classic kid’s story about the wild wolf boy in the wild wolf suit who sails night and day and makes himself the untamed king of the untamed things with the terrible roars, teeth, eyes, and claws.  Notes Joshua Larson, “My favorite line in the book is ‘…and the walls became the world all around.’  In my interpretation, from when I was young reading the book and as an adult now, your world is filled almost exclusively with what you put around you.”

Thusly was christened the store Larson co-owns, Wild Things Antiques.  He supposes, “You can decorate your life with exciting people or a fabulous job, just as you can decorate your home–and walls–with fabulous art, found items, décor or what-have-you.”

Adds Wild Thing Antique’s other principal, David Wenzel, “We both love wild and funky vintage items and would display things together that sometimes people might not ever consider.  So, our style is a bit wilder and funkier than most.”

Each entrepreneur brings a task-force-esque specialty to their shared enterprise.  “I am the one that likes to keep things,” says Joshua Larson.  “Some call it hoarding, I call it collecting, obsessively. I like modern, funky, odd, eclectic, and weird.”

Blenko Glass

The other owner’s role is complementary, if not always complimentary.  “I am the keen eye, with more retained knowledge in the back of my brain than anyone should ever have,” David Wenzel reports.  “I can recover knowledge about old things that I didn’t even know I had. I am the more reasonable of the two as I like to sell, except for Blenko Glass–give me all the Blenko Glass.”   

The passion the two men share isn’t just professional—it’s also personal…really, really personal, and has been from the beginning of their multi-faceted relationship.  “When I met David, on his first trek to my house he started to flip items over to look at the maker,” Larson remembers, recounting his initial exposure to Wenzel’s keen eye in action.  “I was originally kind of taken aback until he told me the value of some of the items I was using for change jars and soap holders, most of which I thrifted.”   

The two parallel passions progressed.  “We would go on dates to thrift stores and antique malls and at one point we realized we were beyond ‘collecting,’” Larson continues.  “Our styles vibe and the opportunity presented itself and the rest is history.”  

That style vibe is itself vintage:  Wenzel’s family owned an antique shop near Cincinnati, Ohio, one where the future Wild Thing worked as a teen.  Wenzel acknowledges, “I’ve always loved history and cool old stuff, so being able to find and share cool old things with cool people is a big part of what keeps us so passionate about the business.”

The business eventually became their business once Larson and Wenzel decided to pool their individual talents and common interest.  That shared adventure transitioned from a Queen City booth to a Queen City store to an Uptown Minneapolis establishment.  Joshua Larson recalls, “We had a solid foundation when we started, and we made a pact that if we were no longer having fun with our business ventures, then that would be the end of it. This still rings true.”

The heaviest, headiest venture was still in front of the intrepid pair.  “Our most important move was when we purchased our mid-century house in Fridley,” Wenzel asserts.  “We decided to move into a warehouse close to home. We’ve been selling from there for a few years now.”   

This new space provided a new opportunity. “Our most recent [professional] move was into a huge space in the same building complex as our warehouse,” says Wenzel.  “We have organically expanded from a two-person vintage shop to a two-person vintage shop with an adjacent antique mall with thirty-seven dealer spaces called the Wild Vintage Collective. Our dealer family provides a space for an eclectic mix of humans to show off their passion for vintage resale.”

Wild Vintage Collective

The key to survival in such a space is keeping up with what’s new in what’s old.  “One of the biggest trends we’ve seen in the past few years is a huge uptick in all generations collecting vintage Halloween and Christmas,” Wenzel states.  “We’ve seen the younger generation really start getting into vintage Christmas and vintage Halloween, a lot of this is driven by pop culture and certain television shows.”  Larson adds, “The industry has trends and cycles.  The interesting thing is that these trends and cycles are fairly difficult to predict. That’s why our motto for evolution is just to continue to buy and resell things we like.”

One trend is unlikely to evolve, though.  As did the wild wolf suit to the wild wolf boy, Wild Things Antiques has brought each of its co-owners to “where someone loved him best of all.”  Declares David Wenzel, “What is the most fun part of doing our business together is the treasure hunting together. Being able to spend time with each other while finding items for the shop is a blast. We both enjoy seeing the excitement in each other’s eyes when we find really cool stuff.”

Wild Things Antiques and Wild Vintage Collective
7272 Commerce Circle East, Fridley

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