Furniture store, coffee shop open in Arcade Building

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By BOB UPHUES

While the placement of the central tower on top of the Arcade Building was a symbolic moment for the structure, perhaps as meaningful in the past week was the opening of a pair of businesses on the ground floor.

On May 18, Conversation Piece - where vintage and antique furniture is repurposed to become eye-catching design statements - opened next door to Urban Leaf and Bean Cafe, a tea/coffee shop that's been in the works since late last year. The coffee shop opened for the Riverside Arts Weekend event, May 19-20, on Bloomingbank Road.

While Urban Leaf and Bean has been in the news a bit since its opening was announced last December, Conversation Piece quietly slid into its space at 1 Riverside Road.

Owners Maura Harrington and Laura Wienke met during a local fundraiser late last year and decided to form the business, which operated for a time out of a warehouse space on East Quincy Street.

"We started collecting things there and then decided to expand to the storefront at the Arcade Building," Harrington said. "We wanted to keep the business in Riverside."

The exposed brick walls and high ceiling with its exposed ductwork and sprinkler fittings give the space a more urban, loft-like feel. Sofas, chairs, cabinets, dressers and tables are carefully arranged, turning the space into a showroom.

The furniture is a mix of styles, from early 20th-century pieces to mid-century modern. The pieces are all reupholstered and refurbished.

"Basically we take vintage pieces and repurpose them, either making them shabby-chic or covering them with the latest fabrics and bringing them back to life," Harrington said. "Each piece is individually designed for conversation. A 'wow factor' is what we're looking for."

The store is open Thursday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., or by appointment.

Inventory will be ever-changing, said Harrington, and information on pieces should soon be available on their website at www.conversationpiecefurniture.biz.

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