Antique Emporium finds new home with room to expandJanuary 5, 2018
By ALLEN LAMAN
FERDINAND — Antique and collectible shoppers fret not: Though closed signs fill windows of the old Ferdinand Antique Emporium building on Main Street, the company is not dead.
The decade-old emporium is in the midst of a move to a north-side building — located at 202 E. 23rd St. — that includes about 6,000 more square feet for vendors’ whatnots. Business is slated to resume at the new site on Feb. 1, and a full grand opening is planned for the end of April.
With shoppers visiting from as far away as California and Maine, the company has a big reach and is a magnet for the town.
“We have a lot of people come in and say it’s one of the nicest, cleanest malls,” said Julie Patton, the emporium’s new owner. “(We) try to keep that reputation.”
Patton, a Bristow resident and five-year vendor at the emporium, took ownership of the company after booths were cleared out of the old building — located at 1440 Main Street near Forest Park Junior-Senior High School — in early December.
Keith Fritz owns that space, as well as Keith Fritz Fine Furniture, a luxury handcrafted furniture company that operates inside it. He said his company has tripled in size in the past five years and needed the space the Ferdinand Antique Emporium occupied for growth.
Fritz gave notice in September that all vendors would need to move out by the first of the year. Patton said the news wasn’t shocking — it was something she’d known was coming for several years — but noted it was still unexpected. Fritz thanked them for their time in the building and told the group he felt he wouldn’t have time to be the owner due to the expansion of his own business.
Patton and fellow vendor Leah Kleeman then stepped in and searched for a new location. Kleeman eventually reached out to Tom Schipp and Ralph Pund, co-owners of the emporium’s new building space across State Road 162 from Covenant Life Church, and the antique emporium struck a deal with the owners.
“It’s kind of a win-win situation,” Patton said of the move. “We had a lot of people who wanted to get a booth there (at the old location), but we’ve always been full.”
She added that the old building had space for 44 vendors. When fully operating, the new building will accommodate at least 60.
Schipp said the space the emporium will occupy has recently been used for temporary storage, and added he’s glad to see a long-term business set up shop in its walls.
“These guys came about and I felt like the emporium is a real valuable business,” Schipp said. “I personally love antiques myself, and I travel a lot to do that same thing. I thought, well here’s the opportunity. Let’s take care of it and let’s make it right for them.”
First Steps, an organization that provides early intervention services and therapies to infants and toddlers, also operates in a separate space inside the building.
Patton credited the Ferdinand Antique Emporium’s success with the amount of interstate traffic that comes through town and she hopes the group can expand into other parts of the building in the future. It’s the first business she’s owned, so naturally getting it up and running has been a process filled with a mix of emotions.
“A little overwhelming,” Patton said of the ride she’s been on the past few months. “But it’s exciting. I’m learning every day.”
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