With just a stroke of a brush, Maria Melis can transform a time-worn nighstand into a handcrafted piece of art.
"I like to find things and repurpose them and re-use them somehow," said Maria Melis of Vintiqued.
Melis is in the business of transformation.
She is the owner of "Vintiqued" on Richmond Road in New Dorp.
It's where customers can pick up reycled treasures of all shapes and sizes.
"This is something that I've always enjoyed doing ever since I was a little kid," said Melis. "I used to get on the bus with my grandmother and go yard sale hopping."
Melis is not alone in her love of vintage pieces. She's now collaborating with others on a new flea market located outside her store.
Each Sunday, vendors can sell their wares to shoppers looking for that one-of-a-kind piece.
"I have vintage toys, we have vintage clothing, we have a lot of people that make their own stuff," she said.
Melis tells us she was looking to bring the antiquing experience closer to home.
"There was nothing on Staten Island. People wanted a place like this," she said. "Everybody who comes here always tells me, 'this is great. Staten Island doesn't have anything like this. I found so much stuff.'"
But home decor isn't the only thing you'll find. Three-year-old Ryan Orlando got to sit behind the wheel of this rat racer constructed mostly from recycled materials.
The market runs every Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm. Melis says she's always looking for new vendors to rent space. Customers say they look forward to the changing inventory each week.
"Unique items, things that are very interesting," said shopper Andrew Fago. "Some of the stuff is old, some of the stuff has been refurbished. A lot of unique finds."
Melis also hosts do-it-yourself restoration classes out of her in-store workshop. The single mother is also a full-time paramedic and when she's not saving lives, she's salvaging overlooked treasures and giving them a second chance.