“I’ll go to the homes of my family or friends and notice they have the same couch. It’s kind of creepy,” says Mike Alt. “It’s like walking down the aisle at Target, or opening up a magazine.”
In the age of recycling and repurposing, rooms having character is important. Whether it’s in the home or the restaurants we go to, it’s always better if the place feels unique. Mike Alt, proprietor of Alt’s — previously Alt’s Antiques and Floral — is trying to help add a splash of character to dwellings around Milwaukee.
“Even if it’s something that I absolutely hate, if it’s just different, I’ll end up liking it more,” says Alt. “If they put their own aesthetics and creativity into something, I’m into it.”
At his new shop in Walker’s Point, you can find anything from a dress form from the 1800s, to deformed animal skulls, whale bones and uncommon botanicals that most florists don’t often carry.
Alt started collecting and selling oddities and antiques when he was in high school in the early 2000s. He spent most of his free time traveling around to estate and antique sales.
Alt would sell on an appointment basis out of several storage units. Soon enough, he decided it was time to have a store of his own. Alt’s Antiques was born in 2012 on Delaware Avenue, in the Bay View area of Milwaukee.
After being open for three years and expanding his business from strictly antiques to floral and custom builds, Alt figured he could use more space for his store. He spent most of the summer preparing the new location. It’s a lot of work completely gutting a building from the 1930s — Alt would sometimes spend over 100 hours per week there.
In the meantime, Alt has done complete build-outs for small businesses and restaurants around the area. He loves to see items get a second life, as opposed to going to a landfill.
“I’m living the dream,” says Alt. “I get to do the three things that I really like to do and be able to live from doing them.”
Alt’s can be found on the corner of 6th and Bruce streets in the Walker’s Point neighborhood of Milwaukee.
Check out Alt’s on Instagram here for some of his cool finds.