Creative Endeavors,  Featured

Monroe North Imports

Inaugural pop-up shop of European antiques to take place this weekend


Monroe North Imports, a destination for vintage and one-of-a-kind objects and antiques, is officially opening its doors at 1615 Monroe Ave. N.W., Grand Rapids, Michigan this weekend to designers and design enthusiasts alike in its inaugural pop-up shop event. Envisioned by Deidre Remtema, interior designer and chief executive officer of Deidre Interiors in Grand Rapids, Monroe North Imports is a curated, European-sourced collection of artwork, furniture, ceramics, and accessories that speak to a long-held passion by Remtema for the stories embedded into the foundation of antique objects.

“I’ve traveled back and forth to Europe several times and I just love the patina, the character, and the history so much. As an interior designer, I’m always looking for things that are unique and one-of-a-kind for my clients and so it has been this dream in the back of my head for years to be an importer,” Remtema said. “The idea behind the shop is to provide our clients with one-of-a-kind items and provide a service to interior designers who need that special something in their projects, as well as the general public who might be looking for something different and unique for their homes.”

Located in an industrial space along the Grand River waterfront, Monroe North Imports’ first pop-up shop event kicks off Thursday, Sept. 21, inviting designers and creative professionals in the interior design community an opportunity to explore its inventory of vintage and antique home furnishings. The collection will then be open to the public during a two-day exclusive event on Friday, Sept. 22 from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m. and Saturday, Sept. 23 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Photography: Monroe North Imports | Pictured: Deidre Remtema

“We converted half of the warehouse into pop-up shop space and then the other half will store more inventory. It is very close to the expressway, it is close to downtown Grand Rapids, and there are also other creative companies in this same building. I like that it feels creative here,” Remtema said.

“Our business model is really focused around doing pop-up shops and while we won’t have regular brick-and-mortar store hours, we are really excited to offer those events and it is really set up like a retail shopping experience. We have furniture, lighting, mirrors, artwork, accessories, pottery, and all kinds of fun things for the home for people to come and shop for,” Remtema added.

While a long-time dream, Monroe North Imports finally became a reality in early 2023 when Remtema decided to travel to Italy and France after struggling to find unique objects that really resonated with clients of her full-service, interior design firm. The firm, which was founded in 2009 and welcomed her husband, Jeff Remtema as architect in 2018, specializes in full-service projects where the team guides clients throughout the design process from end-to-end. The initial goal was to bring back items for the specific needs of their clients, but as they continued to search for pieces that were either hard to find in the United States post-pandemic or held a certain expressive and distinctive individuality, they quickly filled a 40-foot shipping container and the idea for the pop-up shop was born.

“We were in Italy and France this year and I’m really excited to go back. We felt very connected to the people there and the history and the types of antiques that we could find,” Remtema said. “We were trying to breathe life into our design projects, and I think that is a unique perspective we bring to our inventory. It is very much focused on what we think will help our current clients, but also help any person coming in to shop for what they might need in their home.”

For Remtema, the passion for antiques goes beyond an affinity for adventure and for discovery of objects in markets, stores, and the unexpected places in the European landscape. It is about how objects can tell a story and how the pieces people choose to surround themselves with in their home are important, often evoking ease and comfort as much as personal expression.

“Each one of us is very different from the other. I have a very different history, likes, dislikes, and personality than the next person, and so having objects, furniture, and decorative pieces in your home that strike a chord with who you are as an individual I think is so important. When we see ourselves reflected in our homes, it brings us comfort and it helps us to feel at ease, relaxed, welcome, and connected—connected to our environment—and creates a home that we want to be in,” Remtema said.

“When we see a piece, whether it is an armoire or a piece of art or a table, it might remind us of our own personal history, it might bring up experiences we’ve had in our past and we have some personal connection with it, and then when we bring it home, it further tells a story of who we are and helps us feel at ease and just brings more joy in general,” Remtema added.

Monroe North Imports plans to host two-to-three pop-up shop events each year and for this inaugural event, any pieces that have not already been reserved for clients, will be available for sale at the designer-only and the public events this weekend.

“At the foundation of antiques is story, and telling a story. Ultimately, story is the lifeblood of what brings all people together and so whether you are buying a German armoire or a French mirror, something about that story sets you alive and the foundation of story within our objects that we are surrounded by just enriches our life in general,” Remtema said. “I think that brings people together, because story is what we are all connected by and each of our pieces that we have brought back has a really cool story.”

Photography: Monroe North Imports



Text: R.J. Weick

Photography: Monroe North Imports