Road construction and the economy have done the Old Orland Antique Shops no favors in recent years.
But that didn’t stop Kay Shelander from opening up a second shop in the district on July 30. Shelander has 34 years of experience in the business and once owned five stores in the district. She eventually sold most of them and kept the . She opened a new consignment shop Monday at the vacant building that was built in 1920, and used to house a bank and a previous antique shop.
Her granddaughter, 22-year-old Stephanie Coleman, is managing the new shop, called Kay’s Old Orland Market Place, located at 14316 Beacon Ave. Coleman knows that the bad economy has been hard on dealers.
“Antiques have been hit so hard – it’s probably one of the hardest hit areas because people don’t have the money to spend,” she said. “They like to look at things, but there are only so many people that will buy them. You have to find the right people and do the right marketing.”
And with construction at 143rd St. hurting businesses in that area last year, as well as a portion of this summer, it doesn’t sound like a prudent idea to open another place there. But Shelander is confident it can work.
“We’re surviving,” she said. “Antique dealers survive and if they don’t, then they close their doors and they are gone. You don’t see them anymore. If you see antique dealers that are still active, they are resilient. We have taken our hits and survived.
“We printed maps and got the customers around the neighborhood,” she added, talking about the construction woes. “You have to keep trying. You can’t give in, right? I used to say that it doesn’t really take much to get into business but it takes a lot to stay in business.”
Both Shelander and Coleman love what they do.
Coleman grew up in Oak Lawn and Minooka and spent many hours in her grandma’s shops over the years.
“I remember running in the halls and breaking things,” she said.
Now she lives in Chicago and loved the challenges of finding valuable items in unexpected places.
“It’s like treasure hunting,” she said. “I’ve been to some shops in Chicago and picked up something for two or three dollars that I know I can sell for $40 or $50. It’s fun. I have an appreciation for things that people forget about and people overlook.’’
Coleman's favorite find was a Swedish blue vase from the early 1900s, with a mermaid on it, that she paid $7 for at an estate sale. She said she bought it because she liked mermaids. After a few months, she found out it was worth $400 to $500.
Shelander said the most unusual items she came across were a pair of six-foot elephant tusks bagged in 1954.
The native of Texas and California said it’s been a rewarding and fun career.
“I grativate to old things,” Shelander said. “I like the vintage things and I like to mix and match.”
Some may think that the antique business is going to the dogs. At this store, it may be partially true. Coleman’s beagle, Phoebe, will be a fixture at the store.
“I just won’t want to leave her at home all day,” Coleman said. “So she will be here with us. Some of the customers already love her.”
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