We had the partners in place and 22 dealers who agreed to hang on for the ride.
Happily, the store manager of many years, Mary Jean Hoss, agreed to stay on as well along with her staff.
We were amazed at the outpouring of support we received from townspeople, shopkeepers and customers all of whom asked what they could do make sure we stayed at 25 Main Street. The Millerton News was quick to jump on the story echoing the belief that to lose the Antiques Center would be a terrible blow for the village.
The final challenge was to convince the landlord to divide the building into two separate units: the upstairs would remain the Antiques Center while the downstairs would become a separate rental unit.
We weren’t sure he’d accept our proposal.
Did I mention that all this was happening during the run up to Christmas? A word of advice: don’t try to form an LLC and negotiate a lease over the holidays. Happily, both our lawyer and the landlord made themselves available.
Negotiations are negotiations but we were pleased to discover that the landlord understood the benefit of the Antiques Center to the life of Millerton. He wanted us to remain where we were and so did we.
It came down to the wire but on December 29th we had our signed lease. We scrambled to get the new phones, computers in place; the proper insurance, and new bank accounts ready.
On Jan 2nd, we were open for business without missing a beat.
Oh, actually there was one more challenge. At 22 dealers, the business proposition was dicey at best. If we could get that number up to 30 we could breathe a sigh of relief. But finding 8 more dealers in the dead of winter and in the middle of one of worst economies in memory would not be easy.
But come they did. First one. Then another. Word was out that the Center was alive and kicking. Last month, we hit the magic number of 30 dealers. Local residents who are downsizing are showing up daily with furniture, paintings, silver and more to put on consignment. We are actually breaking even.
Finally, while things are looking up on the inside, things are about to improve on the outside as well. Soon the façade will get a needed facelift and new signage. A very happy ending for all of us, our customers and for the Village of Millerton.
Best of all, we’re right where we belong. The Center in the center of town.
Here are just a few photos of items in our new and improved Millerton Antique Center. (click to enlarge)