BY NANCY GAGNET | MIRROR REPORTER — On just about any given day, there is something new to discover at the Maumee Antique Mall.
With 110,000 square feet of space and over 350 dealers, the Maumee Antique Mall is chock full of a hodgepodge of items – from tools to teacups and everything in between.
“We have such a variety of things that come in here weekly, so you never know what you’re going to find,” said owner Bob Mix.
Dealers feature all types of goods, including retro mixing bowls, crystal glassware, turquoise jewelry, Barbie dolls, brass lamps, vintage signs, primitive finds, retro kitchenettes, comic books, vinyl records and eight-track tapes. There are suitcases, benches, bowls and chairs as well as mixing spoons, cookie jars, rocking horses and beaded bags.
Stevie Vodika of Fremont was shopping last week for salt-glazed pottery.
“They’re tucked in here and there, so it’s kind of like a treasure hunt,” she said.
Vodika admits to being an antique treasure-hunter, often perusing flea markets, garage sales and antique malls whenever she can. She makes the trip to Maumee a couple of times a year.
“Today I found an old picnic basket and the price is really good,” she said.
Antique dealer Dave Stoma also regularly shops any type of sale he can find. Specializing in vintage signs and primitive finds, Stoma has been in an antique dealer for many years.
“My parents used to do this in the 1960s,” he said “I try to have a good variety of stuff and I am always on the lookout. We’ll be on vacation and it’s like whop, pull over, yard sale, because you never know.”
The Antique Mall employs a staff of 15, with floorwalkers who regularly stroll the aisles, offering help to anyone looking for something in particular.
Store clerk Nicole Fizer has worked at the mall for seven years and her love of antiques also prompted her to open her own booth.
“I feel like I am a small-business owner,” she said. “I grew up loving antiques and the more I came in here, the more passionate that I became about it. I just love the thrill of finding something that somebody else might like. I think that is very exciting.”
In addition to providing extra income for dealers and great finds for shoppers, the antique mall also supports individuals with disabilities.
John Grant, the owner of You First, an agency that serves individuals with disabilities, has a large area in the back of the antique mall where items featured in that space are restored by individuals with disabilities. In addition, all proceeds from the sale of the items support the organization.
“What we’re attempting to establish is vocational rehabilitation,” Grant said. “We focus on self-employment and we are trying to teach them what to do on their own to make their own money and be their own boss. We try to teach people independence, using this store as our classroom.”
Mix opened the mall in 2004 and the business took off immediately. Currently, there is a waiting list of dealers interested in setting up booths.
It took two years before a spot became available for dealer Tim Mackley, who specializes in comic books, Barbies, games and action figures.
“We have a fairly diverse batch of material that we have been collecting through the years. It doesn’t do me any good sitting at home. The more of it I can move, the less I have to worry about later in my life,” he said. “And if I can make someone happy by providing them with something that I’ve got in my booth, that would be great.”
Mackley received his first comic book as a youngster and ever since then, he’s been hooked.
“It’s safe to say that I have read every book in my booth at least once,” he said
Comic sales often increase when a new action movie is released featuring a prominent superhero, and Batman is reaching its 1,000th issue, which is exciting for comic book enthusiasts, he said.
“As long as it stays fun, we keep doing it,” said Mackley.
The antique mall is a perfect place to find items for do-it-yourselfers or those looking to decorate on a budget.
Recently, 28-year-old Alexandrea Ramirez and 27-year-old Kayla Fox were looking for items that grabbed their attention. Ramirez is planning a wedding in December and had her eye out for glassware and red and green accessories, while Fox had recently built a workshop and was looking for tools.
“This is one of my favorite places in Maumee,” said Ramirez.
Fox agreed, “We used to come here all of the time when we were young. Now we come back as much as we can and it’s nostalgic for us.”
The Maumee Antique Mall is located at 1552 Reynolds Rd. in Maumee. Hours of operation are Monday through Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and Sunday 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
More information can also be found on the mall’s website at www.maumeeantiquemall.com.