Belton’s Whistle Stop Antiques – 14 successful years – “It all boils down to the people”

July 2024

Feature Article

Belton’s Whistle Stop Antiques – 14 successful years – “It all boils down to the people”

 

By Corbin Crable

 

Sally Smith had lunch in Belton, MO, nearly 14 years ago and stopped by a flea market to ask about renting a 10’x10’ space.

She ended up buying the building.

“(The owner) talked me into buying her business,” Smith explained. “I’d never worked retail before.”

Smith named the new 3,600-square-foot store Whistle Stop Antiques, and after more than a decade in business, she reflected on all she’s learned and the memories she’s made.

Whistle Stop Antiques, so named because Belton was a whistle stop town and the railroad runs directly be-hind the building, was a new venture for someone who loved well-used treasures.

“I had owned a company that did estate sales, so I had the antique knowledge but never had worked retail,” Smith said. “At the beginning, it’s always dicecy, and you wonder if you’re going to make it or not.”

But Smith needn’t have worried – shoppers were instantly drawn to the store’s variety of inventory and its small-town charm. The business’ popularity has increased so much over the years that she bought the building adjoining her store, bringing her total space up to 7,000 square feet.

Smith said the area in which Whistle Stop is located has long been associated with sales.

“This entire block was at one time owned by a wo-man who sold children’s clothes,” she said. “(The buildings) were built in the late 1800s.”

At Whistle Stop, Smith said she prides herself on placing her focus on offering quality antiques, with all other items a secondary concern. And whether customers come in with an intent to buy or simply wish to do a bit of browsing, they’re always welcomed warmly and greeted with Smith’s signature smile.

“I have people who come in to regroup; they just wander and look and calm down. I try to set things up so it’s not too crazy,” Smith said.

There’s plenty you’ll find at Whistle Stop that you won’t find anywhere else – including, Smith says, live music on evenings when the store hosts its regular concert series.

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Patriotic items for your holiday decorating

Find all your holiday decorating needs at Whistle Stop Antiques in Belton, MO. Here, a fun collection of new and vintage patriotic items to decorate for the Fourth of July. (Image courtesy of Facebook)

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Whistle Stop Antiques in Belton, MO.

The creative and delightful window displays at Whistle Stop Antiques in Belton, MO invite shoppers to come in and explore. (Image courtesy of Facebook)

 

 

“We started that in 2013. Late one night, a man knocked on our door and he thought the store was a location where a house concert was, so I wrote down directions for it. I found them, called them the next day, and one thing led to another. It was a nonprofit radio station, mostly folk and Americana,” she said. “I’ve served on their board for years, and we host six to eight concerts per year I’ve had artists here who are a gathering of musicians from all over the world. Some of them have even been nominated for Grammy Awards.”

Smith said the secret to her store’s success is adopting flexibility and being open to change whenever it may occur. Smith said her purchase of Whistle Stop 14 years ago proves that the best kind of change can come at the unlikeliest time, too.

“You’re never too old to do something you thought you’d never do,” she said. “I was 55 years old when I bought this store, and I should have been thinking about retirement.”

Good thing she wasn’t – Smith said she loved working in Belton so much that she bought a house there and moved into town. Now, she gets to see the friends she makes all around town, outside of business hours.

“In Belton, you get more out of (your efforts) if you put something in. I try to give back a little bit,” Smith said. “And the friends I’ve made – I’ve made friends I’ve been with for nearly 14 years. It all boils down to the people.”

For more information, call Whistle Stop Antiques at 816-322-0200 or visit www.whistlestopantiquesbelton.com.

 

Contact Corbin Crable at editor@discovervintage.com.

 

Running Rabbit Antiques celebrates store expansion

May 2024

Feature Article

Running Rabbit Antiques celebrates store expansion

 

By Corbin Crable

 

Luckily for antiques lovers in Higginsville, Sandy Wescott has always dreamed big.

Now, the store she opened on the town’s main drag 16 years ago is growing to accommodate those dreams. Running Rabbit Antiques has expanded, buying up the building next door and opening a general store and hardware store, along with a 1920s gas station. All of that is in addition, of course, to the wall-to-wall antiques, primitives, collectibles, and advertisement signs that greet you when you walk into the front door of the original building. Wescott’s son Dale and his wife Christa now run the store, having retired from their jobs to dedicate themselves to its management full-time. All told, the expansion, from conception to opening, has taken about a year and a half.

“I grew up with my family collecting antiques. We’ve been accumulating for a long time,” Dale says. “We’ve got some good dealers, we love general store stuff, and now we have one of the better ad sign displays outdoors now. We have some really good dealers over here. We have a bit of something for everyone.”

Dale adds, “My mom always dreamed of expanding next door. Four years ago, my wife and I took over the store, and her dream became our dream.”

Dale says that Christa is general manager of the store and also manages its marketing and social media, while Dale prefers to go on the hunt for and buy those special items that find their way onto the store’s shelves – and, hopefully, customers’ shopping baskets.
When the couple began plans for the expansion, Dale drew up concepts for the use of the next-door building.

“Once we were handed the building next door, we worked 12 hours each day for a month,” Dale explains. “We had a few people helping because we had days of building walls and painting. The days started to blend together. A lot of dealers worked really hard to get their part set up. Everyone has been working hard.”

At the conclusion of that long month, however, Dale and Christa were jubilant when they laid their eyes on the finished space.
“It came out just like I envisioned,” Dale says.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony officially welcomed the new Running Rabbit Antiques and General Store to town, and the expanded space’s first day of operation was March 22. Customers’ feedback on the expansion has been overwhelmingly positive, Dale notes.

“We had close to 200 people here for the ribbon cutting. When they come inside, people for a year and a half have been looking to the right, looking for the opening,” Dale recalls. “I’ve heard the word ‘awesome’ a lot.”

 

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You'll find a great collection of vintage signs and other metal items on offer at Running Rabbit.

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The Running Rabbit Antiques & General Store

 

Now, Dale and Christa are thinking just like the family’s matriarch, Sandy. They don’t want the store just to appeal to those who live in Higginsville. They want it to be a shopping destination for out-of-towners.

“We want to make this a place that people come to Higginsville for,” he says. “People think it looks like a museum next door, but our sales have been great.”

He credits his mother with having the vision for Running Rabbit Antiques all of those years ago.
“It would not be here if it weren’t for her,” he notes.

Dale said the store’s expansion has confirmed to the couple that they made the right decision to take the store’s reins from Sandy.
“We love antiques. We love to go on buying trips. We haven’t had a lot of time to go out and do that for the past month,” Dale chuckles. “But we love meeting people and have made friends and a lot of great connections in this business.”

 

Contact Corbin Crable at editor@discovervintage.com.

 

Augusta’s Paramount East Antique Mall will close at end of April

April 2024

Feature Article

Augusta’s Paramount East Antique Mall will close at end of April

 

By Corbin Crable

 

Cynthia Branch, one of the owners of Paramount stores in Wichita and Augusta, announced on Jan. 30 that after 12 years of business, the difficult decision has been made to close Paramount East Antique Mall, 10187 SW Hwy 54 in Augusta. The store’s last day of business will be Tuesday, April 30, 2024. The dealers at Paramount East Antique Mall (Augusta) were notified with a letter sent Jan. 29 followed by an e-mail sent Jan. 30. Paramount East Antique Mall staff were notified individually on Jan. 28.

“It’s unfortunate that we have had to make this decision after so many years in business in Butler County. The cost of doing business in this post-COVID world has been challenging. Increases in property tax, insurance and other operating expenses in the area have become more than can be overcome even by a successful store like Paramount East Antique Mall,” Branch said. “We thank our loyal customers, our dedicated dealers and our amazing staff for everything they have done to make Paramount East Antique Mall all it could be.”

Paramount will continue to serve its customers at its two Wichita locations: Paramount Antique Mall (13200 US 54) and Paramount Marketplace (6297 E. 13th St. N.). The company will make as many accommodations as possible to place Paramount East Antique Mall dealers and staff that wish to relocate to their Wichita locations.

 

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Stop by and find some amazing sales at Paramount East.

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Paramount East Antique Mall

 

Paramount’s first antique mall, Paramount Antique Mall, was founded in 1999, followed by Paramount East Antique Mall 12 years later in 2011. Paramount Marketplace, the third location, opened in 2016. All locations have won numerous awards, including Wichita Eagle’s Readers’ Choice for Best Antique Mall, Best of Wichita’s Winner Favorite Antique Store & Best of Butler County Best Antique Mall.

“We look forward to continuing to provide Wichita with a unique shopping experience for many years to come,” said Madison Barnes, newly named COO of Paramount Antique Malls.

Press release submitted by Paramount Antique Malls

 

 

Contact Corbin Crable at editor@discovervintage.com.

 

Lots of familiar faces at Greenwood’s Vintage Vault

February 2024

Feature Article

Lots of familiar faces at Greenwood’s Vintage Vault

 

By Corbin Crable

 

Don’t be surprised if you walk into The Vintage Vault in Greenwood, MO, and see a few familiar faces.

The antique and vintage store, which opened Nov. 1, brought with it several vendors from Big Creek Antique, Vintage and Décor before that store closed. Now, Vintage Vault owner Sherry Zans says the small team of dedicated vendors feel like a family – having dubbed themselves ‘The Breakfast Club,’ the group’s members regularly meet for breakfast at McDonald’s and then head over to The Vintage Vault. Zans credits Big Creek owner Steve Compton with blessing her with the group of dedicated vendors, and with doing his part to spread the word about her store.

“Steve did a fantastic job of keeping the place full, and customers loved coming in there,” Zans says. “I feel blessed they are able to come with me.”

Previously, Zans, herself a former vendor, had to move out of the store she occupied when the owner put the building up for sale.

“There’s a group of vendors who are senior citizens, and they were so upset they weren’t going to be able to stay together,” Zans explained. “I told my husband, ‘The only way to keep everyone together is to open our own shop. I am a nurse by background, and I’ve worked with the elderly. I thought, ‘I have to do this. I have to keep the band together.’ And they’re a great group of people.”
Zans says she thinks the store’s wide variety of items will keep customers coming back time and again.

 

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You'll find an amazing variety on offer at Vintage Vault.

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The Vintage Vault on Main

 

“We have some boutique items like purses and handbags. We have Lazy Ones, which is a clothing line that sells pajamas, slippers, men’s boxers. We have jewelry and stuff for kids. We also have a lot of handcrafted items, like crocheted stuff, lotions, and lip balms.”
And if you feel a little peckish while shopping, Zans says she’s got you covered.

“We do have popcorn. We have a couple ladies who sell it,” she says. “We also have a couple that sell cookies for a nonprofit for fentanyl awareness.”

The store has enjoyed robust business during its first two months of serving the community. The feedback she’s received from customers so far has been glowing.

“They like the open space, they love the variety,” Zans says. “We do have a really big variety for any age. And they like the feel of the store, the layout. It’s easy to maneuver and not overcrowded.”

And, like most small towns, the other antique shops in Greenwood are known for supporting one another. The Vintage Vault has already been on the receiving end of that support.

“The local shops have all been very supportive,” Zans says. “They’ve always sent customers our way, and I’m incredibly thankful for that.”

And who knows? While shopping, you might just bump into one of Zans’ many vendors and who work together to bring the store to life.

“We call each other family. We’re just really close,” Zans says. “If someone needs something, we’re always there to help.”
Located at 1303 W. Main St., for more information, call The Vintage Vault at 816-533-2546.

** The Big Creek Antiques building is for sale! 509 Main St Greenwood, MO  Spread the word!

 

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Primitive handmade bowls

Contact Corbin Crable at editor@discovervintage.com.

 

Where does the term ‘flea market’ come from, anyway?

November 2023

Feature Article

Where does the term ‘flea market’ come from, anyway?

 

By Corbin Crable

 

Some words and phrases in our lexicon lack a clear explanation for their existence – and that includes the term ‘flea market,’ a place where sellers put their gently used items up for sale to collectors.

According to a 2023 article from Mental Floss’ Matt Soniak, though the markets themselves have existed in some form since the ancient world, some historians believe the term may have been born from the street bazaars of Paris. The story goes that sometime in the late 19th century, a shopper “looked upon the market with its rags and old furniture and dubbed it le marché aux puces (“market of fleas”), because of shoppers’ perceptions that some of the more time-worn wares sold there carried the little bloodsuckers,” Soniak writes.

A little more than one hundred years have passed since ‘flea market’ first made an appearance in writing, making it into the Oxford English Dictionary in 1922 after the book “In Europe” stated, “It is called the ‘Flea’ Market because there are so many second hand articles sold of all kinds that they are believed to gather fleas.”

Whatever the answer, the outdoor French bazaars that had existed for hundreds of years were demolished as the city grew and new streets and buildings went up. Once the bazaar owners were forced to set up shop elsewhere, their operations became known as “flee” markets in English; it is unknown exactly when or why that spelling morphed into “flea” markets.

A third possibility, Soniak writes, is that the term was born in Colonial America, and that the Dutch traders who settled in what would become New York established an open-air market called the Vlaie Market, so-called due to their markets’ location on swamp land.

“English speakers pronounced the word with an f up front (and sometimes a long l on the end), and the Fly/Flea Market and other places like it eventually all became flea markets,” Soniak writes.

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A flea market is seen on the Missouri State Fairgrounds in Sedalia, MO. Image courtesy of the Missouri State Fair Foundationpast year. (Image courtesy of Corbin Crable)

 

 In his U.S. Flea Market Directory, author Albert LaFarge writes that the flea market of today “is a modern version of a phenomenon that has endured throughout history in all civilized societies – wherever there is a high concentration of people, there will be market days when they assemble for the exchange of goods and services.”

According to the Hollis Flea Market, which has operated in New Hampshire since 1964, there are currently more than 5,000 flea markets across the country, with more than one million vendors and 100 million shoppers annually. It seems the ancient tradition of flea markets (or, if you’d prefer, swap meets or open-air markets) continues today and shows no signs of slowing down.

 

Contact Corbin Crable at editor@discovervintage.com.