Ten women opened Loft Antiques in the 1970s in an apartment above Yankee Peddler Antiques (now Vinaigrette).* They heaved merchandise up steep stairs to the loft that earned the store its name.
Each room in the apartment had a distinct feel as a kitchen or bedroom. As time went on, new dealers became involved in the business, and five women moved the Loft down the street in the ‘90s when they took over Fjelde’s storefront at the corner of 50th & Xerxes.
The founders’ collaborative business model has lasted for 40 years. Today the shop is home to 14 dealers, each of them stocking a room of their own, sharing overhead expenses, and working in the store a number of days based on their square footage.
“Nobody has more than seven days a month,” said dealer Sandy Gooley. “…It’s really hard to go back to real hours.”
Kaye Monroe’s merchandise appears at the front of the store, including the elaborate chandeliers — “they’re back,” she said. Monroe said she watches buying trends closely. Everyone was buying typewriters for a while, she said, and suddenly no one wanted them anymore.
“I do this for a living,” she said. “I have to really pay attention to what’s [selling]. It’s harder than it seems.”
“One of the great things about the store is it’s so big,” Gooley said.
“When you have 14 dealers, you’re going to have a real variety of stuff,” Monroe said.
Staff turnover is rare. The dealers are mourning the loss of Mary Carson, age 69, who died suddenly in March. The dealers are pitching in to sell Carson’s remaining merchandise. A photo and a note stands in her room at Loft Antiques.
“As a member of Loft Antiques for over 15 years, she loved hunting for treasures and found beauty in everything,” read Carson’s obituary.
Gooley is recording the shop’s history by interviewing its founders, and she said the original dealers still love to visit the store.
“We all feel that way,” Gooley said.
The shop is open every day: Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday 12-5 p.m.
Loft Antiques’ founding members in 1976 included Jean Alexander, Betty Berg, Kathleen Griffin, Faith Hayhoe, Honey Kramer, Barb Malone, Nancy Meehan, Elizabeth Robb, Carol Schnoening and Fran Specht.
Loft members who opened the current location include Dorothy Burns, Barb Gillham, Diana Hildreth, Cookie and Patty McNutt.
*This story is corrected to recognize founding members of Loft Antiques, as well as members who moved the store to its current location in the 1990s.