If you go into Vintage 72 and walk past the jewelry and paper flowers, you can take the stairs down to the second floor. Turn left at the landing, then take another left, and you’ll see a tiny room, almost a closet, shiplapped from the chair railing down. At the end of the room, there’s a sign identifying it as the Prayer Wall with pencils and paper for anyone and everyone to share their prayer requests.
For MaryKate and Cody Nave, the prayer room was an essential part of their business plan when they took over the now-defunct Funky Monkey.
“When I went to a store in (Tennessee), what they did there was they built a chapel in the middle of their store, and people had put prayer requests from floor to ceiling in there. And that’s just kind of what they were known for,” MaryKate said. “When I walked in, it’s just a feeling that you get. You feel the Holy Spirit; you know that you are coming into a place where people are praying for you, and you have the opportunity to pick a prayer request and take it home with you. … I just knew one day I would have a store, and that was something that left such an impression on me. I thought if I ever have one, I want to do this because it’s a way to share the Gospel and a way to let people have a place to go … to lay down their problems, and know that somebody else is going to pray for them.”
The Nave’s takeover of the store comes in the month following Funky Monkey’s demise. Back in May, vendors were told that there wasn’t enough money to go around and the business would be shutting its doors for good.
“We were told on Mother’s Day that it was closing, and we weren’t going to get checks. So we asked about the lease, and the owner said, ‘I’m not going to be able to pay the lease,’” MaryKate said. “We contacted the landlord and decided to completely start up our own lease.”
Since this is a vendor-based business, meaning the welfare of more than the owners and employees depended on its success, MaryKate and Cody stepped in. It was new to both of them — MaryKate is an x-ray technician at Huntsville Hospital, and Cody works at Nucor, a steel plant in Decatur — but they fell in love with the rustic/whimsical decor that’s big right now.
MaryKate started her own booth, Wood + Cotton, in Funky Monkey back in February, allowing her just enough time to get her feet wet before it went under.
“ … I’ve been helping people … when they’re building a house, just trying to put things together and interior design type stuff,” MaryKate said. “We had built a house last year, and I would go looking for different things for my home. And I kept having to go to Tennessee to find them, the style I was looking for.”
MaryKate realized she could get the same things at cost and then bring them to her booth for others who liked her style, but didn’t want to make a road trip just to get a decor piece. At first she started thinking about a storefront, but that was a lot of work and a lot of overhead costs.
“We really started praying for a way for it to work out that, number one, I could take my daughter to kindergarten and pick her up this fall — mainly just have a way to give people a cheaper option than the retail stores,” MaryKate said.
When they got the chance to take over Funky Monkey, it was just too good to pass up. The business was already established, the vendors were already established, and the location where University Drive turns into Highway 72 couldn’t be better for traffic.
“It was almost just a perfect opportunity to start fresh with a new name, but have the same type business going on here (and) still being able to carry my stuff and expand,” MaryKate said. “It was really a no-brainer when we realized it could happen. We thought, ‘This is what we’ve been praying for for so long.’ ”
The prayer closet is just one of the changes MaryKate and Cody have made. The feel of the store is different. While Funky Monkey stayed true to their name, the gypsy-esque, bohemian feel was a little overwhelming at points. Merchandise was everywhere, and a wrong step might result in something being bumped over.
In a lot of ways, that’s just the nature of vendor-based businesses, but that’s not what MaryKate and Cody wanted.
“We didn’t want it to have a flea market feel. We wanted it to have just more of a store,” MaryKate said.
The Naves made pathways between all the booths, giving each vendor a little more space to set up and design their area. The lines are cleaner, giving shoppers more room to look around.
There are some new names in home decor as well.
“A lot of the same vendors came back, but a lot of new people came,” MaryKate said.
Not only did they rearrange the booths, they fixed the smell, something shoppers and vendors alike had noticed and complained about over the years. It turns out there was a sewage pipe that had never been capped off.
It’s a busy life — the Naves are juggling two full-time jobs, owning a business and two kids — but they’re making it work.
If you’re in the market for anything for your home, stop by Vintage 72 and see what they have. You can also find them on Facebook.