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Couple stars during Shop Demo Depot contest in Mt. Pleasant

| Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015, 4:39 p.m.

Shop Demo Depot recently announced a husband-and-wife duo took the top two prizes in the Mt. Pleasant store's local ReUse Contest, which tests entrants abilities to transform one handy product into another, according to Amanda Godula, the business' spokeswoman.

Amanda Chismar of Elizabeth took the contest's top prize, and her husband Steve Chismar, placed second.

The ReUse People of America's annual ReUse Contest is held across America, as participating reuse stores like Shop Demo Depot hold localized versions of the contest.

Winners then advance to be judged on a national level.

“We really encourage reuse, and it's a great idea to recognize those who are really taking it to heart and creating things,” Godula said.

About four years ago, the Chismars completed the couple's first repurposing project, which involved transforming a pair of shutters into a night stand, Amanda Chismar said.

“We didn't do much repurposing after that until this past summer of 2015, when Steve got inspiration from a video to turn a filing cabinet into the meat smoker,” she said.

That project reignited the Chismars passion for repurposing, Amanda Chismar said.

“Within days I purchased a ‘well-used' dresser from a garage sale to repurpose it into a bench (with storage),” she said.

In doing so, Amanda Chismar won the local contest and received a $100 gift certificate to Shop Demo Depot. Steve Chismar's filing cabinet turned food smoker earned him second.

“We enjoy taking ordinary or common items and turning them into things with a completely different purpose,” Steve Chismar said.

He said initially the couple started repurposing items in their own home.

“However, we came to the realization lately that there is a ‘market' for repurposed items,” Steve Chismar said.

The couple is currently working to turn a couple of antique storage trunks into coffee tables, he said, among other similar projects.

“We made a doll house/bookshelf from an old, nine-cube organizer. We have also used old picture frames to create wreaths for front doors, and used more wooden shutters to make photo holders,” Steve Chismar said.

Amanda Chismar said the couple has a Facebook page to display their project before-and-after photos.

“(That's) so that other people can see how you can take one item and turn it into another. A lot of people take their old chairs or dressers and simply throw them away. So we like for people to think, ‘Wait, with a little bit of work I can turn this into something really useful.'”

So even though it remains a hobby, the Chismars anticipate completing more projects in December and becoming vendors with Shop Demo Depot in early 2016, “so that we can sell directly to the public,” Amanda Chismar said.

Jeannette's Jen Costello earned third place in the contest for transforming building materials and wine bottles into hourglasses.

Costello was recently featured at Seton Hill's Harlan Gallery for Women in Art.

The three local winners, and their projects, have been entered into The ReUse People of America's national contest in California. Winners will be announced on Jan. 15.

As much as the Chismars would love to be there, they will not be making the trip.

“However, we look forward to hearing if we won. We were so excited to hear that we had won the local contest. There were a lot of great entries, so winning was amazing,” Amanda Chismar said.

For more information on The ReUse People of America's contest, please visit:

Linda Harkcom is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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