To salvage: to rescue, save or reclaim. Earthwise Architectural Salvage reclaims pieces of Tacoma’s history as well as an awe-inspiring array of usable building materials at their unique Eastside store.
From claw foot tubs to lumber, appliances to wall sconces, Earthwise salvages material from our city’s historic buildings. In doing so, they divert items from the landfill and bring a truly amazing supply of treasures to local shoppers. Their knowledgeable staff also show customers how to use items in their home, helping you bring your upcycling project idea to life. Want to make a table from an unexpected object? Inspired by a project online and want to replicate it? The Earthwise staff are here for you.
Located on the site of a historic sawmill (one of the oldest still operational saw mills in the United States), visiting their sprawling indoor-outdoor space is an experience. Touring the store with Lacy Kabrich, Director of Marketing and Sales, it’s clear she and the team are passionate about what they do. As we wandered the seemingly never-ending trove of treasures, Lacy pointed out special finds like a pair of Victorian coal heaters and foundry molds from a local smelting factory. Rooms of pedestal sinks and spinning racks of hardware offer imminently practical ways to merge beauty and functionality. Walking through the lumber yard outdoors, Lacy pointed out a stack of 100-year-old old-growth fir boards with perfectly tight wood grains (a sign of high quality). Throughout the visit, Ukiah, one of two store dogs, offered a friendly and laid-back welcome.
Earthwise Architectural Salvage was founded in Seattle in 1991 by Kurt Petrauskas. He was working as a demolition contractor and was struck by the unique and beautiful items that were being sent to landfills. Kurt started saving the items and holding yard sales, and soon the Seattle store was born. The Tacoma store opened in 2012 as their second location. Each store sources locally from the city around it.
Lacy says about 75% of the inventory comes from salvage projects – demolitions and renovations – and the rest comes from local residents bringing in their items. Earthwise offers store credit or modest cash offers (read about both their salvage services and acceptable items here). They also accept tax-deductible donations.
Lacy came to Earthwise from a background in interior design six years ago and finds joy in her work. When asked about her favorite items at Earthwise, she admits it’s a hard choice – something new and unique comes in every day. She loves the vintage lighting fixtures because of the impact lighting has in setting the tone of a space. However, she also loves cabinet hardware – these pulls and knobs can be the “jewelry of the room.”
From professional contractors to weekend enthusiasts, Earthwise has a broad appeal, Lacy says. Just about everyone who visits Earthwise Architectural Salvage falls in love with its gritty local charm. She most loves “seeing all the cool stuff we save … knowing that someone will see and appreciate it. From so many buildings, we’ve been able to save at least one element for adaptive re-use.”
Far more than a store, Earthwise Salvage is active in the community through events such as the annual Salvage Art Competition in May for Historic Preservation Month. You can find them at La Paloma Market (formerly Tacoma Flea Market) in Proctor this summer. And they partner with nonprofits such as the Tacoma Historic Preservation and Rebuilding Together to help give back. (Check out some amazing sewing machine bookends Earthwise staff made for a Rebuilding fundraiser, along with other “EW Famous” projects.)
From road signs to stained glass windows, Earthwise passes pieces of Tacoma’s past into the hands of the present: your imagination is the only limit. “We’re preserving real memories,” says Lacy. As Tacoma seeks to re-invigorate itself and build pride in its manufacturing history, there is perhaps not a better way to manifest this local pride than bringing it home, literally, through the treasures at Earthwise Salvage.
Lacy encourages you to stop by the Eastside location, as well as to browse online. Warning: While the store is well-organized and very shoppable, it’s easy to get utterly immersed in looking. “Sometimes customers will come in at 10:00 on a Saturday, and still be looking around at 1:00,” Lacy says with a smile.
Earthwise Architectural Salvage is located at 628 E. 60th Street, Tacoma, WA 98404. They are open 7 days a week from 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. in the summer (April through October), and 9:30 to 5:30 p.m. the rest of the year. You can also follow them on Facebook and Instagram.