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Antique malls are a treasure trove just waiting to be discovered. Some people enter with a purpose, looking for the rarest of the rare, searching for specific tools or antique dishes. Others venture in for the experience, to walk down the aisles and take in the history of it all, wondering if their grandparents or even great grandparents used these tools in their everyday lives.
Just off the beaten path (or state route 39 depending on how you look at it) sits Walnut Creek Antique Mall. 15 years ago, LeRoy Raber found himself unable to continue in his previous line of work due to back health issues. He was asked to manage a small antique shop in a building that once housed the Mast Harness Shop.
Although Raber had never considered this line of work, he soon found that he very much enjoyed it. "I was asked to manage the antique mall 15 years ago and I never looked back," said Raber. "It got in my blood and I ended up really liking it."
It's amazing just how many treasures can be found in 11,000 square feet of space. Different vendors rent out spaces in the store in order to showcase their merchandise. While some vendors are just looking to get rid of great grandpa's tool collection that has been cluttering up the barn, other vendors are looking to make a living off of the unique items they have to offer.
"We offer a large variety of antiques which contributes to our success," said Raber. "So many people come through with different tastes; everyone's looking for different items."
Walking through the store, customers will see antique items from the early 1800s all the way up to the 1950s and 1960s and up. "I enjoy seeing the old primitives (from the early 1800s,)" said Raber. "But I think we are starting to see a generation gap with the younger generation interested in what our parents and grandparents had (items from the 1950s and 1960s,)" said Raber.
While Raber said he appreciates these more "younger generation antiques," he still enjoys the primitive rare find that may show up in his store. "To me it (antiques in the 1950-1960 group) doesn't hold much value, but it brings in the younger crowd," said Raber. It's exciting for Raber to see the younger generation sharing interest in the antique world.
"I don't want this to be a museum," said Raber. He likes to see his inventory continue to move and grow with new vendors. Items tend to go in cycles, explained Raber. An item that was very popular one year and seems to be wanted by everyone may not be as interesting the next year, but may become of interest again a few years down
Raber said, one of the most interesting items he had in his shop was a piece of carnival glass made in Millersburg. It sold for $18,000.
Walnut Creek Antiques has kept in good standings with the community. "We have lots of repeat customers and we have great business all year round," said Raber. Last year's mild winter kept customers steadily coming in the door even in January and February which are typically slower months for Amish Country shops.
"It's exciting to see what the future is bringing," said Raber. "We are quite fortunate to have a shop full and have a waiting list for vendors."
Walnut Creek Antique Mall is located at 4872 McKinley Place Dr., Walnut Creek. Store hours are Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Friday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. and Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. For more information call 330-893-4010.