Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Owners of Antique Mall in OKC Look Back at 20 Years in Business

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Owners of Antique Mall in OKC Look Back at 20 Years in Business

Article excerpt

When Bill and Denny McConnell became the managers of the May Antique Mall in 1989, they put everything on the line.

In the late 1980s, Bill McConnell lost his job of 13 years when Lee Way Motor Freight closed. The McConnells were just making ends meet by doing odd jobs and getting additional income from rental properties they purchased during better times.

Opportunity knocked when the previous owner of the former May Antique Mall was looking for new managers. A friend of the McConnells suggested the owner give the couple a call.

The McConnells were prime candidates to run the store - they had a love for antiques, and they were broke.

But the McConnells did not want to get involved with the store unless they could have a future ownership stake. The store at NW 15th Street and May Avenue was in an old movie theater and owned by a man named Bill Howard, who was looking to eventually sell the business.

"We asked him 'is there anyplace to go with this or will we always be the managers of the May Antique Mall,'" Bill McConnell said. "He said, 'if you work out and you build the business,' he'd sell it to us in two years."

The store did prove a success and the McConnells scraped together about $23,000 to buy the business from Howard in 1991. The purchase was financed through the sale of their remaining rental houses. When the deal was done, they had the business, but only about $300 in their pockets.

"When we bought this we were poor," Bill McConnell said. "We sold those last few rental houses and we had struggled for several years, especially after the oil bust."

Over the next eight years, the couple built the business and added vendors. Bill McConnell said there were several lean years, but there always was enough business to keep the lights on.

In 1997, they wanted to move the business and eyed an old cafeteria, 3023 NW 23rd St., as a future home for their antique mall. The couple decided to buy and renovated the 11,000-square- foot space, so they moved the store and renamed it the 23rd Street Antique Mall.

During renovations, the couple went three months with no income, but when they reopened, their existing vendors, as well as some new vendors, filled the available space.

The store now has 70 vendors, several who have been with the McConnells since their days on May Avenue.

Denny McConnell said antique shoppers still come through the doors even though many are watching their wallets. She said if buyers were not purchasing the items, her vendors would simply pack up and go, which has not happened yet. So far this year, the McConnells have not lost any vendors because of the economy.

This summer they are celebrating 20 years in the antique business, even as other antique stores have closed their doors. Antique shops also are seeing an influx of people looking for extra income by selling items on consignment. …

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