Old Town Antiques has new Central Hillside location
The smaller space on Fourth Street in Duluth is packed full of nostalgia.
DULUTH — Old Town Antiques is back in business at its new Central Hillside location after vacating the downtown Hotel Astoria building in March 2022.
The quaint shop is now situated at 926 E. Fourth St., next door to Dannie-Duluth Consignment Clothing, with college campuses, rental housing and Duluth Whole Foods Co-op nearby.
"We're in a community, an actual community where neighbors can walk to it. We have places that families go," said Carol Jouppi, owner of Old Town Antiques.
Jouppi was a dealer in the former space for 10 years prior to purchasing the business in 2011 from Mark Kilen. She first began collecting antiques after inheriting her mother's children book collection.
"The first place I went was an auction at the Lincoln Park High School," she said. "We bought one full room of blackboards for $5, and had to take them down ourselves. They were very heavy. When we moved, we sold them all for $300, but was the first thing that got us hooked."
In December 2021, Jouppi received notice to vacate within 45 days because the former Hotel Astoria building was set to be demolished. Old Town Antiques was granted a two-week extension from the building owners to remove any belongings.
Jouppi's husband, Dave, was ill and unable to help with the move, so many of the other dealers pitched in to pack nearly 5,000 square feet of items throughout the store and basement. Volunteers from The Vineyard Church made at least seven trips to haul trailer loads of antiques to the garage. Old Town Antiques was out by March 2022.
"If it wasn't for them, I don't know that we would have made it," Jouppi said.
Last spring, she began the difficult search for a feasible new location downtown.
"We looked everywhere. Rent prices were higher. Many places wanted to go triple net, which is where you pay a percent of taxes, insurance and gross income," Jouppi said. "I knew my dealers could not afford that from what I was paying before. To raise the rent, I knew I couldn't afford it."
This was all around the time Perry Framing and Stained Glass owner Penny Perry sold her downtown building at 216 and 218 E. Superior St. to Hucklebeary owner Emily Ekstrom after 47 years of operation.
Hucklebeary was originally located in the former Hotel Astoria site as well, but wasn't required to move out immediately as Eckstrom was still under lease, Jouppi said. Eckstrom allowed Jouppi to store items in the gift shop's space while Old Town worked to relocate.
When Perry discovered the vacant Fourth Street building, she and Jouppi teamed up to co-rent the space. Old Town Antiques is located on the street level, with Perry Framing and Stained Glass occupying the basement. Perry also had a small dealer spot at Old Town Antiques.
A strong support system formed between the three women-owned businesses. Staffing remains a challenge for Hucklebeary, so Jouppi pitches in at the downtown gift shop once a week while Perry helps out at Old Town Antiques.
"Being a woman and having that support is very important for all of us in overcoming the white man's world," said Jouppi. "It's a wonderful support system. Family is great, but outside support is crucial. It is very important to have networking."
Since they began renting in August, Jouppi and Perry painted and installed slat walls before moving into the building that previously housed Port City Auctions and Billiard Supplies.
There was not enough room for all Jouppi's "stuff" at the new shop, so Old Town Antiques also sells items at Father Time Antiques on Lake Avenue and Vintage Hideaway in Hermantown, she said.
At its former location, Old Town Antiques had 30 consignors. Now it works with four.
"It is a lot smaller. There is not as much variety since there is not as much room. Everyone that comes in who is supporting us misses the old building because it was so big. I like it because it's cozy," Jouppi said, adding, "At the old store, we used to have a lot of high-rise customers. It was easy for the elderly to get there. The trolley should venture here to Fourth Street. I would like the Central Hillside to be included in the (Historic Arts and Theatre) District, or be able to get downtown and be part of it. The city is going to want to expand. There are new apartments coming to Fourth Street soon, if the city could include us or spread their wings more than just Superior Street."
Many people find the antique shop to be nostalgic and return time again to sift through artwork, World War I items, U.S. Marine Corps items from the Vietnam War era, old photographs, stained glass, furniture and more, Jouppi said.
Foot traffic has remained steady at Old Town Antiques in its new Fourth Street location, with several people taking advantage of the free hourlong parking to buzz in and out.
"A lot of them just come for the experience," she said. "Some come as a family and talk about memories. It's not about a sale, it's about making them comfortable to come back."