The antique trade is not new, but it definitely does change.
Traditional antique lovers appreciate antiques for their historical value, art and quality. There also is an exciting new market for antiques that is supplementing the traditional market. Objects that often were discarded because they were broken or primitive have been discovered. Pieces and parts of antiques are now sought after, and there is a growing interest in acquiring antiques for creative and unusual uses.
Additionally, there is a new crowd that sees the artistic side of antiquities for the first time in their lives. This group is looking for creative potential in antiques, and brings new energy to the ways in which antiques are viewed. Their purchases may be made because customers like the item for its shape, feel or potential for inclusion into art work or home furnishings.
The hunt, the find and the discovery are all part of antiquing. For Carrie McEnroe, owner of the Creamery Antique Mall in Stevensville, making her shop a destination point for people of all interests is her goal. This is difficult to achieve, but McEnroe, with the help of her staff and vendors, are determined. She selected the former Stevensville Creamery building for her antique business because of its history, large size and potential for both indoor and outdoor use.
The mall’s size has allowed for great expansion in the four short years since it opened. McEnroe has doubled the amount of showroom space, added an outdoor venue, and now offers special events such as flea markets and a hot spot for the Bitterroot 50 Mile Garage Sale. She has her eye on using the remaining space within the building and on site in years to come.
McEnroe is creating a business where discriminating customers can find most anything they want, including surprises they did not even know they were looking for until they see it showcased in the mall. Creamery Antique Mall personnel challenge themselves to find antiques for the current market and its evolving customers. That requires extensive travel, detective work and the ability to find people with interesting items who are willing to sell them. Dealers must have an eye to spot the traditional, the unique, the artistic potential of items, and at times the bizarre. For some buyers, the bizarre is of the most interest.
McEnroe is not content to fill her store only with garage and estate sale purchases. A great deal of time, effort and money is spent tracking customer tastes and responding to buyers’ requests. Also required is locating and transporting antiques from distant areas. Even after displaying them in appealing ways that highlight both the historical and personal meaning these antiques have, antique dealers know that it may take a while for everyday items of the past to become appreciated and sought after. The saying that “Grandma had it. Mom threw it out. Now I am buying it back.” is borne out day after day in the antique business.
Who has discovered the Creamery Antique Mall as a source of antiques? Who are the shoppers? In order to keep the antique business vibrant and fun, antique dealers have noticed that there are several categories of shoppers.
“Collectors” come to look for high quality pieces to supplement their collections of items such as toys, tools, railroad memorabilia, signs and military items. “Designers” seek signature pieces for homes, offices, wedding venues, and commercial interiors and exteriors. “Artists” want antiques for their artistic value alone, and also because they can be used to create other art. “Re-purposers” use historical and vintage purchases in new and personal ways, or as components of their own creations that reflect an earlier time period. “Home owners” furnish their homes with large and small antiques that fit their lifestyle, remind them of earlier days or complement their decorating.
In order to keep all of these types of shoppers supplied, interesting antiques must come into the mall frequently. McEnroe and one of her vendors have made numerous buying trips throughout the year. In the past year alone, these dealers have made 10 trips to such places as Canada, Europe and various regions of the U.S. to bring interesting items to the mall. This activity brings unique and interesting antiques to the Creamery Mall that can rarely be found in Montana. Customers react favorably and often express how fascinated they are with the quality and wide variety of merchandise that comes from these travels.
This customer appreciation is music to McEnroe’s ears because it signals her success in reaching her goal of making the mall an antique lover’s destination.
To visit and discover the Creamery Antique Mall for yourself, find it at 4072 Eastside Highway in Stevensville, Tuesday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visit creameryantiquemall.com or call 406-777-9961 for more information.