Antiques vendors who devoted years to Westminster Antique Mall were left feeling hurt and shocked when the business closed, but an antique market in Taneytown has welcomed them with open arms.
Memory Lane Antique Market opened in June, about four months before the tenant of Westminster Antique Mall, Sharon Green, was evicted for failing to pay rent. Joe Delvecchio was a vendor there for about one-and-a-half years. He’s had a lifelong love for antiques, and when he sensed business was heading south, he left Westminster Antique Mall and set out to open his own shop.
“I knew Westminster Antique Mall was such an important part of Carroll County," he said at Memory Lane one October afternoon. “I felt driven to do it.”
The aptly-named Memory Lane Antique Market, at 520 E. Baltimore St., features about 10,000-square-feet of items from the past, provided by approximately 35 vendors.
“It’s like going treasure hunting every day," Delvecchio said.
Among those is Susan Smith, who specializes in kitchen and bedroom antiques from the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s. She spent more than two decades at Westminster Antique Mall and left in May when she heard about Delvecchio’s business. If Memory Lane hadn’t opened, Smith would have stored her collection in her son’s attic. It likely would have been the end of antique sales for her.
After many successful years at the antique mall, where vendors felt like family, it wasn’t easy to leave.
“You have broken my heart," Smith recalled saying to Green when she told her she was leaving.
Other vendors interviewed for a separate story spoke of bounced checks and little to no notice from Green about the Westminster Antique Mall’s closure. Delvecchio said most of his vendors came from there.
Smith’s booth at Memory Lane offered a colorful display of dinnerware reflecting the fall and spooky seasons. Gesturing to a black and white tea set, she said the small teapot was likely used at a restaurant in the 1960s for an individual serving. Asked what her favorite item was, Smith couldn’t decide. Each piece is like your child, she said.
A few booths down, Bob and Dee Streett offer an array of antiques. To the untrained eye, the lemon squeezer, jar opener, can opener and presumed biscuit cutter hanging on the wall may look like torture devices. To the left, Bob has shelves of planes, but not the kind that fly. A Stanley circular plane was a tool used to shape anything with a curve, like barrels. He estimated one of the planes dated between 1910 and 1920.
The Streetts were at Westminster Antique Mall when it opened. They weren’t happy to see it close. They chose to leave when they saw their sales were considerably lower than in years past.
“We don’t dwell on it because it’s done,” Dee said. “We’re looking forward.”
Antiques offered by Alan and Jay Burris have a prime spot near the front of the store. They spent eight years at Westminster Antique Mall, saw its demise coming, and left to join Delvecchio.
“We were like a family at Westminster. We hated leaving," Alan said.
Alan specializes in glassware and china, though their booth offers much more. Jay pointed to dozens of Annalee dolls from the Halloween and Christmas collections. Old glass bottles of all shapes and sizes lined shelves. One table was full of tiny glass bowls that were used for salt at individual place settings. Slightly larger glass containers would have held salt for guests to scoop from and place into their own bowls, Alan said.
Strolling through Memory Lane Oct. 21, Delvecchio sympathized with the vendors. He admitted he’s glad to have the business, but wished Westminster Antique Mall’s closure hadn’t hurt so many.
“These are good people," Delvecchio said.
His hope is to learn from the antique mall’s shortcomings and do right by his vendors and customers. Delvecchio likes to have a personal touch. He’s known to offer toys to kids who get antsy while their parents try to shop. And if you get Delvecchio talking, he’ll tell a whole story about one antique.
On Wednesday, he showed off an 1877 atlas of Carroll County, an item he does not wish to sell. Delvecchio bought it from an estate sale by an old family in Carroll County. The atlas, many of its pages weathered and torn, included a list of patrons and maps. Locals would recognize some of the surnames as the names of roads throughout the county. After each name came a profession, such as farmer, teacher, physician and “gentleman of leisure.”
Delvecchio’s journey to becoming an antique market business owner started with a wrong turn. Nine years ago, traveling from Baltimore to Carroll County to visit his significant other, he wound up at Snyder’s Auction in Hampstead. Delvecchio got out to ask for directions and came upon a live auction. He took a number, listened to the fast-talking auctioneer, and was hooked. Now, Snyder’s has a booth at Delvecchio’s store.
“It’s like a full circle," he said.
A cabinet maker by trade, Delvecchio dabbled in antiques for years, but didn’t feel compelled to make the leap to open an antique market until a year ago. His brother, 10 years his senior, had a heart attack. He survived, but the moment caused Delvecchio to think of his own mortality. That, coupled with inside knowledge of Westminster Antique Mall’s murky future, compelled Delvecchio to move forward.
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A few doors down from Memory Lane, a second location is being prepared. Delvecchio already has vendors eager to enter the new space, which will give him about another 10,000-square-feet. He hopes it will open in early December. Memory Lane is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.