Editor’s note: Alyssa Bickle wrote the article as a journalism student at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Arizona State University.
After three location changes since opening in 1993, Antique Plaza has moved from downtown Mesa where the business had been for more than 25 years.
The business reopened on May 1 at 911 E. Main St. in a 9,000-square-foot space, 1.4 miles east of the previous downtown location.
Greg Farr, owner of Antique Plaza, originally purchased an existing business at Alma School and Guadalupe roads, where he spent a year before moving to downtown Mesa for a larger 20,000-square-foot building in 1994.
In 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic began to cause multiple small businesses to close their doors, the landlord asked Farr to move his business next door to an 8,000-square-foot space, Farr said.
“In 1994…downtown Mesa was pretty much empty, there were no businesses down there, in 25 years it has grown considerably,” Farr said.
Downtown Mesa contains multiple vintage and antique stores that all moved to the area over two decades ago, and this unique inventory created a bigger draw for customers, Farr said.
Anything that is an antique is something 100 years or older, and vintage is younger, but usually before 1999.
“I think it’s disappointing, all of us…really loved having them down there, I felt like with all of us there, it was kind of a destination, you know, so with them moving, it’s kind of sad,” Cristin Clark, owner of downtown Mesa vintage store Buckhorn Vintage, said.
Antique Plaza does not have employees; only vendors that rent their space, stock their space with their inventory and keep it clean, Farr said.
The vendors do most of the work. Antique Plaza provides the space for them, they bring their inventory to price and display it, he said.
“What has made me stay open is the quality of my dealers, and the work that they put forward,” Farr said.
Julie Erickson has been a vendor at Antique Plaza for about four years and has moved with the business as it relocated multiple times.
“We have to get very creative when we move from one space to another,” Erickson said.
Erickson’s specialty is jewelry; she has vintage, sterling, some newer costume jewelry, vintage and new décor, and a lot of colored glass.
“It’s a great community…and no two booths are the same,” Erickson said.
Erickson said she is hopeful that with parking at the new location, Antique Plaza will have the opportunity to hold events for customers.
The city of Mesa has been a big help, providing marketing and making sure all his business licenses are correct, such as his antique dealer’s license and the rent tax he charges his vendors, Farr said.
When construction began on Valley Metro light rail, Antique Plaza was at its second location, Farr said.
“The city of Mesa made it not easy, but easier than what the Phoenix businesses had,” Farr said.
The city stopped construction in downtown Mesa during the time many out-of-state retirees are in the valley to enjoy the warmer Arizona winter, and construction resumed during the summer months, Farr said.
Not much has changed for Farr’s business since 1993, except the customer base, he said.
“The customers have changed. We have seen a lot of the younger generation going in for vintage items, more than antique items, like clothing, like vinyl. When I started out, no one was interested in vinyl,” Farr said.
As for downtown Mesa, it is still a destination for a lot of people, he said.
“Things are changing downtown, it is getting more and more gentrified,” Farr said.
Go to antiqueplazamesa.com or on Facebook @AntiquePlazaMesa.
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