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.

Gingerbread cookies

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)

Gingerbread cookies

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.