Fishtown: Michael’s Decorators Brings New Life to Furniture
Along the historic Frankford Avenue sits a furniture store that directly deals with pieces that are both historic and contemporary. Although many faces are new to Fishtown, Michael Tonuci and his son Steven have been reupholstering, restoring and hand-building furniture in the area for the past two decades at 2210-2214 Frankford Ave.
Michael’s Decorators originally opened in Manayunk 42 years ago and worked out of a warehouse-type building that did not showcase their work. Yet, after a change in the scene and the burden of parking, Michael’s Decorators moved to Fishtown. “We originally came here for just a place to work out of because we didn’t have to worry about parking issues when we load or unload our trucks,” explains Michael Tonuci. “Now, the area has really transformed over the years. The people here are so nice and actually see the possibilities of what this historic neighborhood can be.”
Different from their Manayunk location, their business now displays pieces of their vintage furniture in their storefront which brings history and beauty to the avenue. Not only does Michael’s Decorators create works of furniture in their spacious store, but also has hosted art shows for local, young artists in Philadelphia.
“We liked to help younger kids get some exposure and this place was perfect to do that,” Tonuci said. The Goldfish Gallery took off when the Tonucis lent their room to an art professor from University of the Arts on the first Friday of each month. Local people could attend to view and buy the works of young artists, which one gallery had a turnout of about 300 people. Although the art shows have recently slowed down, Tonuci is anticipating an upcoming show that is said to exhibit the works of two artists who are now in their 90s. “I just think this is a great place. If you look back there is just so much history here,” Tonuci said.
Although the property was a supermarket when Tonuci had purchased it 42 years ago, he began to question its history when he dug up old furniture price-tags in the store. After some research, he found out that the same location in which he was opening his furniture business was also home to Uptown Furniture in the 1930s. The old tin ceiling shows off the timelessness of the store which Tonuci endears and values greatly, even though it can be a lot of upkeep.
“We change it and bring it back to life. Actually, that’s basically what we do with all these pieces of furniture,” he explained, “and that’s what is happening in this neighborhood. It’s changing and coming back to life.”