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By Cathy Deutsch

Seventeen years ago, when Katonah resident Ali Voron was a newlywed, she began collecting unusual odds, ends and furniture she found interesting. 

“We were just starting out, and we didn’t have the funds or the desire for typical mass manufactured furnishings,” says Voron, who opened Piece Revival in Cross River in March 2023. “I’ve always been artistic and liked off-beat, colorful stuff. I realized I had a knack for finding interesting, creative and funky things for a good price for my home. And I enjoyed buying things that I thought others would enjoy too.”  

Over time, Voron accumulated all manner of unusual things, and in 2020 she began selling them in her driveway and then her garage. She found her wares were exciting to others and sold well. It was her first foray into the retail world, and she was hooked.

“I became obsessed with the hunt.” 

 A new career

Voron’s driveway success inspired her to post on Facebook Marketplace and local Facebook pages. She began showcasing the finds she believed had “good bones and quality.” 

Within days, she sold her postings and developed repeat customers. She quickly developed a following, taking her “obsession” to a new level. Now, there was a legitimate reason to scour flea markets, tag sales, thrift shops, roadside discards, estate sales and antique markets, like the famed antique show in Brimfield, MA. 

She reached a point where she shopped almost every day, often finding enough to fill her Honda Pilot, which, she’s learned, can hold up to a 92-inch sofa. Voron would list items online and carefully display them in her garage, transforming the space into a charming, funky makeshift retail shop.

In early 2023, Voron’s “hunt” reached a critical mass; her one-car garage could no longer house the almost daily additions. Plus, it was not winter friendly. It became clear she needed a traditional retail space, so a new hunt ensued. 

Voron immediately found a spot in the quaint Yellow Monkey Village in Cross River, and its community of shopkeepers fit her style perfectly. So she gave up her career as a voice-over actor and dove into the resale business with gusto.

One month later, in March 2023, Voron opened the doors to her first retail space, occupying Consider the Cook’s former stomping grounds Her new colonial-barn-style space was quite a bit larger than her one-car garage, allowing her to create “at home” style settings so clients can see how her wares might look in their house.

Talking shop 

Voron carries everything from sofas and lamps to textiles and paintings. Plus, there’s glassware, clothing and “anything that catches my eye as being special.” 

“My inventory is always changing based on what customers are interested in,” she explains. “Currently, my best sellers are vintage barware (think Mad Men), gently used rugs and colorful textured Kantha cloth throws from India.” 

Voron says these popular throws are part of her mission to sell artisan wares that support individual makers in foreign countries. 

Early in her endeavor, years before her move to brick and mortar, Voron would “revive” interesting pieces of furniture, giving them new life with color and signature artistic touches, thus the word “revival” in the shop’s name. 

But these days, because she’s running the shop full time, she no longer has time to work on the furniture. However, because, according to Voron, “everything is revived by being used,” the name, like her items, lives on.

When she’s not in the shop, Voron is out at least once a week sourcing new items, curating the store’s collection piece by piece. She still goes to tag sales, estate sales and flea markets, and she enjoys the Brimfield Antiques flea market in Massachusettes. 

“I love the thrill of chasing down special items,” she says. “I’ve even driven to New Jersey to buy a rug I fell in love with.”

Evolving the brand

Though Voron’s original vision was to sell previously-loved goods, and the large majority of merchandise in Piece Revival still falls into that category, Voron, in anticipation of her first holiday season, began adding “small items made sustainably with an eye for pieces produced by small companies” in the fall of 2023. 

Her whimsical, even racy, hand-shaped candles (forming peace signs, rock and roll, and the always-popular lifted middle finger) were a hit. They sold out within days, and she’s reordered them four times. Voron says this new element paved the way for more novel artisan items, such as hostess gifts, jewelry and unique greeting cards. 

“I’m excited to continue evolving,” she explains. “I let my customers guide me.”

Part of this evolution involves sourcing new items by traveling to new towns. Beginning this spring, she plans to make her way across the country, and she’s even considering an international trip to India, Indonesia and Turkey in search of the “unusual.”

Voron’s energy, vitality and “can do” outlook on life are what she says keep her looking forward and dreaming big. But that positive attitude wasn’t something she was necessarily born with. It’s the result of overcoming two health challenges that began during her most impressionable years.

“I developed alopecia at the age of 16, which was, of course, very challenging,” she explains. “But I had so much support that it helped me gain confidence as an individual. That, and a recent struggle with ulcerative colitis for which I had surgery, made me feel like I can do anything.”

It literally takes a village

But what really makes her store special, according to Voron, is the community. Yellow Monkey Village features the community’s original barnwood buildings, which now house an array of small shops, yoga studios and a cafe with owners who make the entire experience feel, well, perfect

“It is a community,” says Voron. “It’s a place where people come to shop and enjoy the laid back country atmosphere. We shopkeepers, especially Nicole from This and That Vintage and Jen from O2 Living, are dear friends; we do events together and co-advertise. And this spring and summer, we will have lots of events on the lawn and specials in our shops.”

And, of course, Voron’s family plays a role in her success. 

Voron and her husband Mike, also an entrepreneur, have two children, ages eight and 11, and they’ve been part of the business since the beginning, along with their black labradoodle Millie, who often “helps out” by curling up on a rug in the shop.

“I didn’t want my kids to feel left out,” she explains. ”So they helped paint the garage, and now they help with displays in the shop. My daughter makes macrame beaded bracelets for kids and has a little display in the shop. I want them to know that with hard work, they too can do anything, overcome challenges, and follow their dreams.” 

“It’s hard sometimes,” she continues. “I often feel like I am not giving enough to them and the shop, which feels like a third child to me. But I think we’re finally finding a good balance.”

Follow your heart

What Voron loves most about her new gig is the items themselves.  

“There’s a sense of history in each item, whether it has lived many lives in different homes or it’s new to its first home,” she says. “I love connecting with the customers and telling them about the item, if I know its age or where it came from. Sometimes, it breaks my heart to see items go because I fall in love with all of them.”

This article was published in the March/April 2024 print edition of Connect to Northern Westchester.

Cathy Deutsch
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Cathy Deutsch is a resident of South Salem and a former local shopkeeper in Katonah and Mount Kisco. She previously wrote a restaurant column for The Country Shopper and is currently a contributor to several local publications. Additionally, Cathy’s personal essays have been published on noted on-line platforms including Dorothy Parker’s Ashes. “Writing has always been my passion, and I’m very excited to be writing for Connect to Northern Westchester,'' she says.