By Adrienne McGee Sterrett
The match holders were hung carefully, lined up in a neat column, waiting for collectors to choose their favorite color, design and era.
Popular during the time wooden matches were a household necessity, match holders — sometimes called safes — became decorative — done in ceramics with pretty painted flowers and the like. Only about the size of a person’s hand, and made to hang on the wall, the once-utilitarian item has now caught the eye of collectors.
And Jack Lambert, owner of Auglaize Antiques LLC, knows why.
“People don’t make that kind of thing anymore. It’s all hurry up and make a buck and give ‘em what they need,” he said.
Will your household continue to operate if it strictly adheres to the basics? Of course, but if the vintage glassware done in bold swirls or the quality-built wood furniture makes you smile at its whimsy or marvel at its lasting power, why not feather your nest?
Wapakoneta has plenty to offer along those lines these days, with its downtown filled with opportunities in which to linger.
“I originally came here thinking, wow, a working downtown,” Lambert said, explaining he’s not a Wapak native. He grew up in southern California, moved to the Pacific Northwest in his 20s, Findlay in his 50s, and then bought the antique store in 2004.
“I worked my whole life selling tools to machine shops,” he said. “And then I got interested in antiques.”
Naturally drawn to antique tools, the now-retired Lambert soon began frequenting auctions and had as many as 10 booths at various antique shops. Seeing how much he was spending on booth rent, he figured it would make financial sense to buy the shop.
He also fell for the building’s history. The structure has been an antique store since 1992. There are currently more than 200 booths and showcases in 25,000 square feet. It was a JCPenney from the 1920s to 1990. Its earliest use was Timmermeister and Rogers Dry Goods, with an opera house and gambling hall upstairs.
“I thought this would be a fun thing to do … and I love it,” he said.
Just across the street is another old building with a new use — Casa Chic. One of the owners, Landa Tomlinson, explained it was a variety of furniture stores — Nagel, Galaxy, Auglaize, Mike’s — since it was built in the early 1900s.
It, too, has a top floor built for entertainment. The ballroom, once accessible via a side stairway, also served for a time as a speakeasy. It still has its coffered ceiling with stamped tin details.
Casa Chic has been there six years, starting about 11 1/2 years ago “up the street,” Tomlinson said. She and co-owner Laura Clementz and some other ladies took part in a co-op home and garden store, and things grew. Now, Tomlinson, her three sisters and their mother work together to make Casa Chic a destination for quality new, vintage and one-of-a-kind items.
“None of us said, ‘Let’s go start a business,’ but in the end, we’ve been so truly blessed to have this in our lives,” Tomlinson said. “People one after another will come in and say, ‘This is my favorite shop.’”
The shop features about two dozen vendors with items spread over three floors of retail space. The shop isn’t divided into strict booths, however, opting instead for a more open, cohesive feel. It also offers things for sale on consignment and layaway.
“It just gives a wide variety of different people’s tastes,” Tomlinson said. “Every one of them has their own customers.”
Clementz has been painting furniture for some years now, and repurposed furniture is a theme in the store.
“We say we move furniture for a living,” Tomlinson said, laughing. “That’s our joke.”
WAPAKONETA ANTIQUES AND SPECIALTY SHOPS
Visit www.wapakshops.com for details.
Auglaize Antique Mall
Riverside Arts Center
Village Green Floral & Garden Center
Everyday Furniture & More
Finders Keepers Consignment Store
Your Jewelry Box
The Bridal Emporium
Park Street Music & Mercantile
Oen Kitchen and Bath Showroom
Macky’s Health Food