Reclaimed Of Annapolis is opening Annapolis Glassworks at 42 Randall Street. (TBM / Mark R. Smith)

About eight years ago, Mark Miller made a career move that he hadn’t planned on taking.

It led to a life reboot that will soon lead to him and wife Tracey opening their fourth store, as well as their third retail address in Downtown Annapolis ― to be called Annapolis Glassworks, which will open this spring after their other shops, The Boathouse MD opened in December and Reclaimed of Annapolis opened in January 2023.

That career transition was the result of a heart attack. At age 42.

While the money was good, Mark Miller said the stress of working in Corporate America was what gave him “the scare of this life, but inspired the redirection” of the couple toward refinishing a large variety of salvaged items, large and small.

The combined businesses, which they founded in St. Michaels in 2016, grossed $4 million in 2023.

New direction

The couple’s first location was located not in a retail spot, but an former flour mill in St. Michaels, Md., which they opened in 2016 just off Talbot Street. Tracey, a former schoolteacher, leased the 700-square-foot space, known as Iron Will Woodworks, which shortly became their first “showroom” of sorts when the couple simply attached price tags to their projects.

The prompt sale of those items inspired the next move four years later, which was to lease 2,500 square feet in the former Acme supermarket around the corner, this time on Talbot Street. They dubbed it Reclaimed of St. Michael’s, where they sell refurbished larger furniture, “like hutch cabinets for bigger homes, but with a multitude of products that can fit efficiencies and townhomes,” said Mark Miller.

The success of the St. Michael’s locations eventually led to the expansion to another tourist haven, Annapolis.

“This started when I was just working on the weekends in 2016,” Miller said. “We never got a loan. Then on whatever whims, customers came in and bought everything we put a price tag on.”

Bridge crossing

However, there was much bigger money involved in getting established in Annapolis. “It’s cost us roughly twice what it cost to open in St. Michael’s,” Miller said.

Inside Reclaimed of Annapolis. (TBM / Mark R. Smith)

Reclaimed Of Annapolis, which he describes as “an homage to the Roaring ’20s, was a total gut job for us. It cost $120,000 to open” at the former White House Black Market space at 129 Main Street. “Plus, we do 10-20 year leases and also have the first right of refusal to buy the building. That’s why we put so much money into it.”

Reclaimed sells many cast iron and historical items, such as dining room tables and “our signature crank bases for formal and non-formal dining on up to 10-foot slabs,” Miller said.

The Boathouse MD recently opened at 36 Market Space and offers “a touch of mid-century modern for fine furniture with salvaged maritime décor,” Miller said. “The most popular items are anchor (table) legs, which we can cast any way the customer wants, from bench table to dining height.”

Beatrize Sasser, general manager of The Boathouse MD, and her dog Lucky are ready to greet customers at the new business on Market Space in Downtown Annapolis. (TBM / Mark R. Smith)

As for the soon-to-open Annapolis Glassworks at 42 Randall Street (beside Middleton’s Tavern, which is in the midst of a roof replacement), it will feature 1910-1950s era glassware from all over the U.S. “We’ll offer high-end cutlery, charcuteries and a ton of glassware,” he said. “For bourbon or martini drinkers, we’ll have glasses, plus custom bars and anything customers need for entertaining.”

This steady progress was made possible by cultivating relationships with customers and salvage experts in the nautical market. “It’s nice to be able to utilize those contacts in our new stores,” Miller said, noting they “can come from Europe just as easily as the Chesapeake Bay.”

Full circle

As for retailers that have leased three spaces in the Historic District, Erik Evans, executive director for the Downtown Annapolis Partnership, said “There isn’t much space available here, period. We’re beating all of the national trends, so we’re fortunate.”

And while Evans added that it’s “not usual” for restaurateurs “to open multiple locations” ― as Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley operates four restaurants and Blonder has two restaurants and three retail establishments ― “it’s great to see another business filling a niche successfully and expanding.”

As for the Millers contemplating new locations, that topic has been broached. “We’re considering other nautical towns,” said Mark Miller. “We’ve been approached about expanding and/or franchising in similar tourist-driven locales like Charleston, South Carolina and Alexandria, Virginia.”

So today, it’s onward. The Millers have a warehouse in the Design District of Annapolis off of outer West Street on Margaret Avenue, which provides fulfillment for the Annapolis stores; however, “We don’t do any production there,” Miller said. “We may, but it’s extremely tough to set up in Anne Arundel County. We refabricate about 500 tables a year and want to get a crew on the western side of the bridge.”

For today, the Millers are celebrating their first-year success in the spirit of Downtown Annapolis with an integrated marketing approach that includes live music and wine tastings every Saturday. For Mark Miller, it all circles back to what he learned from his the Corporate America days that eventually almost killed him.

“I was taught by the best people in the industry when I worked for Home Depot back in the ’80s,” he said. “That was the best business school I ever could have attended.”

Caption: Reclaimed Of Annapolis has celebrated its early success by opening two more businesses that are just a quick walk from its location at 129 Main Street.