Twenty years ago Roscoe Antique Mall, located just one mile off I-90 in South Beloit, Illinois, opened its doors. Recently, the owners opened a second shop in Woodstock, Ill.
To learn more about the original Roscoe Antique Mall and the new Woodstock location we visited with owner Gaylene Stomberg.
Evolution and Expansion of a Mall
Antique Trader: Please share a bit about the history of Roscoe Antique Mall (how many years in operation, number of dealers, what inspired you to get into the antique and collectibles business)?
Gaylene Stomberg: Roscoe Antique Mall began in 1998 in Roscoe, Illinois, so this year we will be celebrating 20 years in business. My late husband and I had dabbled in antiques for several years as we renovated and furnished a three-story circa 1905 home in Franklin Grove, Illinois. We enjoyed the hunt for antiques, had some business experience, and were looking for a new adventure, so decided to take the plunge and open our own antique mall. We did not have any actual “antique mall” experience but quickly acquired dealers and drew from their experiences and input on what would make a great antique mall.
AT: What inspired the name of your malls (Roscoe)?
GS: Since we started in Roscoe we called ourselves the Roscoe Antique Mall. However after 4 1/2 years we were offered the building we are currently in, which was a much better building and location, so we moved five miles north into South Beloit but kept our Roscoe name. We have many times thought about telling people it is the name of our dog just so they would stop asking why we didn’t change the name!
Revamping and Revitalizing an Antiquing Destination
AT: How does the Roscoe Woodstock Antique Mall differ in its offerings, if at all, compared to the original Roscoe Antique Mall? How many dealers are in the Woodstock location? What are some of your hopes for the future of your new Woodstock location?
GS: When we recently took over the previous Colonial Antique Mall, there was a lot of work to be done. As with many malls, it had suffered and fallen into allowing newer merchandise into the mall in order to survive. However, as Roscoe Woodstock Antique Mall we are proud to say that along with extensive renovations and clean up, the mall now holds to the same standards of quality and age guidelines as the original Roscoe Antique Mall. We showcase quality antiques dating from the 1700s thru the 1960s. Our dealers search for not only quality items but unique, unusual, and hard to find merchandise. The original Roscoe location has 85 vendors filling 22,000 sq. ft. and offers a very diverse selection of quality merchandise specializing in primitives, advertising, vintage clothing, military, jewelry, oak and walnut furniture, and lighting ... something for everyone as they say.
Our Woodstock location currently has less vendors but the 30,000 sq. ft. main floor is filling up fast. There are currently a dozen spaces and a few showcases available before we it is at capacity.
Offering Unique, Quality Objects
Due to spending a lot of time at Woodstock, Ted London (co-owner) has moved most of his slot
machines, juke boxes, bowling machines, arcade items, cash registers, store counters, and coin-op items to that location. These are the kind of items that generally require a one-on-one with the customers to sell, so we feature a very large showroom of those items at the Woodstock location.
However, Woodstock also offers a fabulous selection of mid-century modern, high-quality primitives, great Chinese pieces, lots of gas and country store advertising, oak furniture, vintage jewelry and a nice selection of general line antiques.
Our hope is that the Woodstock location will help us reach the Chicagoland market, as well as the Milwaukee market. The Roscoe Mall has a wonderful reputation and a world-wide customer base, and the Woodstock Mall will only enhance and increase business and clientele for both locations.
Enjoying the Experience
AT: What are some of the more memorable objects you’ve seen displayed in your antique malls? What about the most memorable visitors to your malls?
GS: We have featured some incredible massive bedroom sets, Wooten desks, huge neon gas signs, vintage cars, gambling wheels, and a two headed cow.
In addition to being able to find items not generally seen in today’s antique malls, our customers also remember us because of the many events we hold each year to make shopping with us a fun way to spend a day.
We have done cake walks, scavenger hunts, pizza days, chili cook-offs, outdoor markets, appraisal events, sock hops, and more. We try to feature one special event a month at one store or the other.
Eye on the Marketplace
AT: What developments within the antiques and collectibles marketplace, within the past six to eight years, has taught you the most, brought the most concern, and inspired you the most?
GS: Taught you the most — The ever-changing market of what people are seeking has taught us to be flexible in type of merchandise and pricing so that as trends change we can change with them.
Brought the most concern — The flood of reproductions on the market. Many of the reproductions are a matter of misrepresentation and selling for the same price as the authentic piece. Here at the Roscoe / Roscoe Woodstock Antique Malls we guarantee our merchandise to be real so when you are paying for the real thing ... you are getting the real thing.
Inspired you the most — With the aging of many long-time antique collectors, their collections, often filled with illusive, hard to find items that have been in collections for YEARS, now becoming available once again for purchase. We seek these out so that we can offer them to our customers. This excites us a lot.
AT: How would you finish this sentence: One of the most valuable pieces of advice I’ve received in relation to appreciating antiques and collectibles is....
GS: One of the most valuable pieces of advice I’ve received in relation to appreciating antiques and collectibles is: always buy the best you can afford because the best always retains value.
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