Customers, vendors are paramount to these stores’ success

September 2023

Feature Article

Customers, vendors are paramount to these stores’ success


By Corbin Crable


It’s often said that good things come in threes. For the owners of the Paramount Antique Malls – and their longtime customers – it’s an adage that certainly holds true.

The trio of antique malls have served Wichita and the surrounding area for years and are only seeing that roster of loyal customers grow with time, according to Carrie Wellborn, social media and marketing manager for Paramount.

The first location, Paramount Antique Mall, opened in West Wichita in 1999, the brainchild of Cynthia Branch and Sandy Hudspeth. The two women soon learned that the sprawling 48,000-square-foot facility and its 225 booths might not be enough to meet the demands of antique and vintage collectors in the area, so two additional locations followed – Paramount East Antique Mall (six miles east of Andover in Augusta) in 2011, and then, in 2016, Paramount Marketplace at 13th and Woodlawn in Wichita. The Paramount Antique Mall is one of the largest in the state.

Something else that makes the stores unique — Wellborn adds that Paramount is women-owned and operated (Kiley Logsdon manages Paramount Antique Mall, while Kim Bennett manages Paramount East, and Madison Branch manages Paramount Marketplace).

The secret to Paramount’s success, she says? Not just one, but several elements.
“We bring in really great dealers to set up booths inside our store. We are a small business, so within our doors are many other different small businesses. People love the idea of supporting small businesses,” says Wellborn, who started at Paramount Antique Mall as a dealer 15 years ago.

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“We have ever-changing inventory. We have dedicated floor staff who walk around the store and are just available to open cases and answer questions. We are constantly visiting with customers, asking if we can take up items to the front of the store. … I’ve been to many malls around the U.S., and you don’t find that level of service anywhere else.”

That dedication to customer service, Wellborn says, sets Paramount apart from other antique malls.
Oh, and then there’s the nostalgia – part and parcel to any good antiquing experience.

“Nostalgia just draws people in, either because they are looking for something they had as a child or they’re just trying to bring something into their home that is unique and warm and brings them joy,” Wellborn adds. “When you come into Paramount, you find those kinds of things.”
Wellborn says that although she has worked for Paramount for many years, she still enjoys coming in and listening to stories about customers finding just the perfect item for their home.

“The customers have such good memories, an excitement of the find. It’s literally a treasure hunt for them,” Wellborn says. “So it’s so fun to hear them talk about the treasures they found. And that’s why they keep coming back.”

Customers and antique enthusiasts have been coming back in greater numbers since the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, Wellborn notes. It’s a bit of good news to celebrate when so many other stores have had to shut their doors in recent years.

“After we reopened, we have been nonstop since,” Wellborn says. “I think we were missed very much because now we’re busier than ever. We have really seen support from the community.”

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You never know what you’ll find at the monthly outdoor vintage markets at each of the malls. (photo courtesy of Paramount Antique Mall)

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Home décor galore for any style of home including country, primitive, modern farmhouse and more. (photo courtesy of Paramount Antique Mall)

As someone who was raised around antiques – her father was a collector and dealer – Wellborn says she’s proud to keep working in an industry she loves.

“I spent my childhood in auctions and going to antique shows and helping my dad sell,” Wellborn explains. “It is truly part of me.”
The industry and its trends have changed a lot since Wellborn was a child, and since Paramount opened its doors nearly a quarter of a century ago.

“We are seeing a trend of people just looking for things that speak to them, items for home that just bring them joy,” Wellborn observes. “We’ve seen a huge upswing in demand for Midcentury Modern. People are always looking for particular pieces, industrial, signage, rusty metal. Vintage clothing has been incredibly hot and seems to be growing at a very fast pace.”

The way Paramount has marketed itself has obviously changed, too, thanks to the advent of online technology, which was only in its infancy when Paramount opened. Social media allows Wellborn to reach out to different generations of customers on different platforms as well.


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Traditional antique furniture to mid-century modern treasures. (photo courtesy of Paramount Antique Mall)

“What’s interesting about social is the demographics of each platform,” she says. “You can grow your audience or customer base based on what platforms you’re using. Facebook would be a more mature audience, but then you go to TikTok and that’s a much younger audience. It’s just reaching different generations of people and showing them that Paramount has something for everyone.”
Wellborn says the customers, owners, vendors, management and staff of the three locations have all worked together to make the stores such a smashing success over the years. Their growth, she says, is thanks to them.

“As a store that hosts so many vendors, we’re so grateful for them because they’re the lifeblood of our store. All the hard work they put into their booths is the reason we can keep going,” Wellborn says. “Customers who keep coming are the secret to our longevity.”

Paramount regularly hosts sales during each major holiday and new season; see this and future issues of Discover Vintage America for further details.

For more information, visit


Contact Corbin Crable at


Brothers open vintage clothing store in Kansas City

August 2023

Feature Article

Brothers open vintage clothing store in Kansas City

“They’ve taken a dream… and watched it become a reality”

By Corbin Crable


If local youths Reade and Thomas Rex are any indication of where the vintage collectibles industry is headed, the future is indeed looking bright.

Reade, 17, and Thomas, 21, recently teamed up to open a new vintage clothing store near Kansas City’s Crossroads Arts District.
The younger of the two brothers, who has been selling vintage clothing online for two years, says he’s always been interested in vintage clothing, and this year, he decided to parlay that interest into a brick-and-mortar storefront.

“There are a few vintage clothing stores in Kansas City, but I noticed they lacked diversity in their clothing,” Reade says. “My brother was very supportive. I didn’t know if my mom thought I was going to do it first, but once she realized I was turning my thoughts into actions, she was very supportive.”

Reade, who does the purchasing and marketing for the store, says he and Thomas work well together.

“I know my way around the clothing,” Reade says, with Thomas adding, “I’m the operations and Reade is the creative lead. He knows the ins and outs of the vintage community. Making everything work logistically is my game.”

Thomas and Reade likely inherited their interest in vintage clothing from their mother Nancy, who has had her own booth at pop-up events.

It’s always been near and dear to my heart,” Nancy says. “Watching Reade teach himself is fascinating. They’ll run new ideas by myself and their dad and stepdad. The two of them have done 98 percent of it, I’d say.”

Reade says he recalls going thrifting with his mother over the course of the past five years, and that’s when his interest grew. He says he’s learned a lot, too, about what buyers are after nowadays.

“Definitely any kind of clothing related to old music, I get a lot of requests for,” he says. “That is very popular, and also old denim pre-1960s is very sought after.”

He adds that he’s excited to expand his business from cyberspace onto Kansas City’s streets.

“The retail storefront ex-perience will help me understand the fundamentals of what it takes to make a small business happen,” he says, “as well with customer interaction, building a following, a community.”

Nancy says that Thomas, a University of Kansas alumnus, has his own media production company as well, and that the two brothers continue to learn much from each other.

“They are very close,” she says. “Reade also has had the opportunity to watch Thomas — they started a small production company — so Thomas is running a small company on his own. Reade watched him do that, so the two of them can lean on each other.”
Nancy adds that she’s proud of the path her sons have chosen, and that their skill and knowledge will take them far.

“They’ve taken a dream in less than six months and watched it become a reality. It makes a mom’s heart proud. The most exciting thing is, it doesn’t seem like work to either one of them,” Nancy says. “They have different personalities. Reade is the creative one and Tom is the logistics/operations one, but it’s been a journey that’s been fun. When I tell a friend of mine and they see the unconventional journey these two are on that isn’t just straight through high school and college, it’s fun to have a friend say, ‘Wow, I’m so impressed with what they’re doing.’ We’re not making the success, they are on their own.” 

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Thomas Rex (left) and his brother Reade stand in front of their new vintage clothing store, The Rex Catalog. The store opened in July near Kansas City’s Crossroads Arts District. (Image courtesy of Nancy Rink)

As for advice they might offer other young people who want to follow a similar trajectory, the brothers have advice gained from their own experiences.

“Try to present yourself in a distinct way to your target audience,” Thomas says. “Make yourself unique.”

Adds Reade: “Don’t wait on yourself to do something great. Start today and make a plan and how you’re going to get there.”

The Rex Catalog is located at 2645 Madison Ave. in Kansas City, MO. For more information, visit or call 918-499-0073.

**Note** – The guys held a pop-up on July 7th at the venue, but the shop doesn’t open until late August. Follow them on Facebook to watch for updates.






Contact Corbin Crable at


One wild ride – Ferris Wheel Antiques in Topeka celebrates 20 years

July 2023

Feature Article

One wild ride – Ferris Wheel Antiques in Topeka celebrates 20 years

By Corbin Crable


Move over, Beanie Babies. Hit the road, Hot Wheels. You won’t find either at Ferris Wheel Antiques, a place that owner Michelle Ferris calls one of the only “true antique stores in Topeka.”

It’s a strategy that has worked well for Ferris and her husband Ronnie, who are celebrating their 20th year of operating Ferris Wheel in 2023. The Topeka store, which was built from scratch in 2003, wasn’t exactly some-thing the couple planned, Ferris says. Like so many wonderful life events, “it just happened.”

“It wasn’t something we planned on,” Ferris explains, adding that Ronnie is a buyer and seller of petroliana. “When his buyers didn’t buy as much, we decided we had enough to open a store… We just jumped in with both feet to see what would happen, and it worked.”

The couple decided they wanted to deal exclusively in antiques, opting to stay away from the junk one might find in other stores.
Also joining Ferris and Ronnie as fixtures in the store were their young daughters, ages 5 and 1.

“Somehow I ran a store with a 1-year-old. I don’t know how,” Ferris says, laughing. “Our girls basically grew up in the store, and our clients have seen them. Our girls would drive wagons and pedal cars around the store. It was like Romper Room.”

As their girls grew, so did the store’s physical space (Ferris Wheel began with just one building with 3,200 square feet of space and later would expand to its square footage of more than 6,000). Word-of-mouth promotion of the antique store in town that had lots of petrol-related collectibles spread as well. Visitors would discover a steady inventory of prim-itives, early Americana, and antique books, too.

Ferris says you won’t find any items more recent than the 1960s throughout the store’s shelves.
Over the past two decades, Ferris says she and Ronnie have amassed a following of customers who have become like family. And since they don’t have any hired staff to speak of – the Ferrises are at the cash register six days each week – they’ll be the ones you meet when you come in.

“We’re the fun place to shop,” Ferris says, “and we are the faces of the store. We could not have done any of that without customers, friends, and colleagues. We try to make our store feel like home. These customers we have are extended family. We’ve made friendships that will last a lifetime. My customers know that.”

Those customers, Ferris says, likely would describe her store using the three words “family,” “friends” and “fun,” while Ronnie adds that he believes they would use the words “traditional,” “quality” and “unique.”
Throughout the years, trends in buying antiques have come and gone, and Ferris says one of the biggest keys to her store’s success is that she always tries to follow them closely.

“We’ve seen cycles go up and down, trends come and go,” she notes, adding that younger buyers are increas-ingly repurposing antiques. “The younger generation now isn’t really into investing a lot of money in antiques, but the ones who come in now may have creative ways to use antiques and repurpose them, much more so now than 20 years ago.”


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There is such a variety of merchandise to hunt through. The Coca-Cola sign on the back wall was the first thing to be displayed in the store and has been a fixture there for 20 years.

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Surrounded by some of the widely varied merchandise at the store are proprietors Michelle and Ronnie Ferris. (All images courtesy of Michelle Ferris)

The advent of social media in Ferris Wheel’s early years has helped the business grow immensely, too.

“When we first started, social media was not a thing. Our advertising was a lot differ-ent then than it is now,” Ferris observes. “Pinterest is a big one; you have women coming in and looking for the same thing (due to a trend) on Pinterest that you have might have missed. There’s nothing bad about that; anything to pique some-body’s interest. I appreciate all of that.”

Though she says she has no plans to retire yet, Ferris says she doesn’t know how much longer she and Ronnie will be the faces of the store. That’s OK, though; she’s already training the next generation of antique sellers, she says – her infant grandson spends plenty of time at the shop, greeting customers who become adoring fans.

Ferris says she welcomes all to Ferris Wheel Antiques and hunt for that special treasure.
“We love what we do,” she says, “and I’d love for new customers to come in and find out what we’re all about.”

For more information, call Ferris Wheel Antiques at 785-862-8850 or visit their Facebook page or website:


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A small portion of their signature collection of Ferris Wheels (NFS).

Contact Corbin Crable at


A brief history of Flag Day in the United States

June 2023

Feature Article

A brief history of Flag Day in the United States

By Corbin Crable


You might have pledged allegiance to the American flag every morning in elementary school, but do you know the story behind the holiday that bears its name?

Flag Day falls on June 14 of every year, just three weeks shy of Independence Day. In 1777, the Continental Congress of the United States adopted a resolution stating that the flag of the United States “should be of 13 stripes of alternate red and white, with a union of 13 stars of white in a blue field, representing the new constellation.” The 13 stars and stripes, of course, represented the 13 original colonies.

According to the U.S. Veterans Administration, the flag “was first carried into battle on Sept. 11, 1777, in the battle of the Brandywine,” but the claim of organizing the first official observance of Flag Day has been made by many institutions and on many dates. The first, the VA states, was during a celebration in Hartford, Conn., in 1861.

“In the late 1800s, schools all over the United States held Flag Day programs to contribute to the Americanization of immigrant children, and the observance caught on with individual committees,” the VA website states.

Generally, the first official Flag Day is recognized as having originated in New York in 1889, when a teacher of a free kindergarten sponsored ceremonies to observe the congressional resolution’s anniversary. Only a few years later, in 1897, New York’s governor “ordered the displaying of flags over all public buildings in the state,” the website reads. Other claims to the first Flag Day observance come from Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

“Presidents Woodrow Wilson and Calvin Coolidge issued proclamations asking for June 14 to be observed as National Flag Day,” according to the VA website, “but it wasn’t until Aug. 3, 1949, that Congress approved the national observance and President Harry Truman signed it into law.”

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Stars and Stripes forever

The History Channel’s website clarifies these and other facts about Flag Day, and even dispels myths surrounding the flag itself. Among them, “It is widely believed that Betsy Ross, who assisted the Revolutionary War effort by repairing uniforms and sewing tents, made the first American flag. However, there is no historical evidence that she contributed to Old Glory’s creation. It was not until her grandson William Canby held an 1870 press conference to recount the story that the American public learned of her possible role. It has since been confirmed that Francis Hopkinson, a delegate from New Jersey who signed the Declaration of Independence, designed the American flag.”

In addition, according to The History Channel, less than a decade after the observance of Flag Day was signed into law, a 17-year-old high school student in Ohio, Bob Heft, when it became clear that Alaska and Hawaii would be granted statehood, stitched 50 stars onto his family’s American flag that had 48 stars displayed across its blue field. He altered the flag for a class project – for which he received a grade of B-.

“Heft also sent the flag to his congressman, Walter Moeller, who presented it to President Eisenhower after both new states joined the Union. Eisenhower selected Heft’s design,” The History Channel’s website reads, “and on July 4, 1960, the president and the high school student stood together as the 50-star flag was raised for the first time. Heft’s teacher promptly changed his grade from a B- to an A.”

Today, the federal government has designated June 11-17 as National Flag Week, during which time the American flag should be displayed on all government buildings.
For more information on Flag Day, its history, and customs and etiquette surrounding the American flag, visit and


Contact Corbin Crable at


School Releases Top Selling Antique & Vintage Trends from Past Year

March 2023

Feature Article

School Releases Top Selling Antique & Vintage Trends from Past Year

Submitted by Charles Green


Press Release

New York – For industry insiders, the wait is finally over. Now in its 14 year, the Asheford Institute’s annual survey of top decorative arts buying trends from the past 12 months has just made its way onto both digital and paper newsstands across the country.
The international survey/poll of past students and graduates from the Institute has become a staple to many in the antique and vintage industry for its unique ability to look into the current state of today’s decorative arts marketplace, as it relates to overall sales trends for dealers working within the collecting community.

Anthony Harper, the school’s lead researcher, says the key to getting meaningful survey results that businesses and people can actually use to help plan their inventory buying strategies for the upcoming year is based on receiving actual sales data, alongside item-specific requests from buyers, which can then be used to indicate interest within a particular collecting genre.

As with virtually all business this past year, Harper says ongoing supply-chain issues continued to have an effect on almost every segment of the economy – including certain genres within the decorative arts field. “In 2021 we were all still recovering from Covid, but this past year, buyers, dealers, and collectors were out en masse, in-person, and were literally snapping up everything in sight.” Harper says that by the end of summer many dealers were complaining about a lack of available and affordable inventory. “It wasn’t just one category of collectible,” says Harper, “it was virtually anything, from folk art to baseball cards.” Similar tales have surfaced in previous years, but Harper says those scenarios were not even close to the severe shortage of available stock that many antique and vintage dealers faced in 2022. Harper believes that some collecting categories in this years poll may have risen or fallen not necessarily because of a lack of popularity, but because of a lack of stable inventory.

However, he does acknowledge one upside to all the market uncertainty – for most dealers, sale prices rose sharply.
For Amber Shole, who’s been compiling survey statistics for over 11 years now, the most striking change in poll results this year was also related to price. “Item listing values skyrocketed in virtually every area,” she said, “and dealers took advantage by holding firm on prices.” Fan favorites like Art Deco and Textiles continued to boom says Shole, while other perennial favorites such as Mid-century modern began to show signs of weakening. “There’s definitely a shift,” she says, “it’s just a matter of being able to pick up on those markers before they become full-fledge trends.”

In other areas of the survey there were also some pleasant surprises, as once again an unexpected (but familiar) era of collecting shot back up the charts to a respectable placement for the first time in over 25 years. The cause? Well, according to Shole, it’s all about a younger generation that’s turned frugal-collector. “Young people are looking for inexpensive eco-friendly choices and sustainability,” says Shole, “and the antique and vintage market is giving them that.” Shole believes that the creation of new trends in the decorative arts market is more of a symbiotic relationship than anything else. “Millennials and Gen-Zer’s need something, and we›re able to supply it to them,” she says, ”and it’s that practical aspect that›s driving the creation of some of these new trends.”


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Trends that took off in 2022

For readers seeking the complete 2022 listing of all the best-selling antique and vintage genres and categories contained within the school’s yearly poll and survey, you can find the full results (including this year’s winner) by visiting the Institute’s website at:

To learn more about the antiques and appraisal study program being offered by the Institute, you can contact them directly at: 877-444-4508,, or visit their website at:


News release provided by Charles Green of the Asheford Institute of Antiques.
Contact Charles at 877-444-4508 or email to: