TREASURE HUNTING

Local shop offers antiques and vendor booths

Brian Bates and Lori Short-Bates, owners of Vintage Treasures Antique Mall & Flea Emporium

Vintage Treasures Antique Mall & Flea Emporium is a long name for a store that has an endless amount of finds.

What started out as a Ford dealership in 1921 became the Emporium in 2015 with a lot of love and a lot of hard work.

What started out as a Ford dealership in 1921 became the Emporium in 2015 with a lot of love and a lot of hard work.

“These are all of the original floors and everything, so we stripped them down and shined them up,” co-owner Brian Bates said. “We loved the architecture.”

Brian said everything you see in the store has been retouched. The walls, which used to be covered in metal, now proudly let light in through the original windows of the building.

“We want people to be able to come here and see what it used to be.”

“We want people to be able to come here and see what it used to be,” he said.

Right around the time they first acquired the building, Corydon won the Stellar Award. The Stellar Communities Program is a nationally recognized program for community development. When the town received $250,000, it was used to establish a grant program to assist local businesses with working capital.

This opportunity ushered in a town revitalization with investors buying, redoing, and reselling downtown homes and investing in downtown businesses.

“It’s quite amazing in that amount of time (since the Stellar), how much has changed,” Brian said. “If you go through downtown it looks like a movie set.”

For Brian and spouse/co-owner Lori Short-Bates, their passion is helping Corydon thrive and be a place people want to be.

Brian said the reason they opened the store initially was to give people who live in Corydon a place to go downtown and look around.

“We really think it’s important to have doors that will open when people pull on them,” Brian said.

Lori is the vision behind the operation, according to Brian. She comes up with an idea and they make it happen.

“We had the building and it was all empty upstairs so I thought I saw a need, people want booth space, and there is none in Corydon,” Lori said. “You know what, we can do something with this.”

The closest place for any sort of vendor booth space was Clarksville. Lori saw a gap and filled the upper floor with vendors of all kinds. The store now hosts 80 vendors in their space.

The closest place for any sort of vendor booth space was Clarksville. Lori saw a gap and filled the upper floor with vendors of all kinds. The store now hosts 80 vendors in their space.

“They can do whatever with their space. They get real creative,” Lori said. “People are just so excited to have their own space.”

Walking through the store you’ll see antiques, books, vintage finds, household items, music, handcrafted art and more. No matter who you are, you will find something inside.

“Our name has Emporium in it, which means a little bit of everything, like when you would go into the five and dime when you were a kid and see interesting things wherever you look,” Brian said.

The lower level of the store houses the antique furniture area that Lori and Brian stock, along with a small room with vintage vending machines and a retro diner booth.

The lower level of the store houses the antique furniture area that Lori and Brian stock, along with a small room with vintage vending machines and a retro diner booth.

Personal touches adorn the store along with Corydon historical items and photos collected from Lori and Brian, customers and other local business owners.

“We’ve always talked about legacy of those who’ve come before us. The shop owners, the people who’ve really raised us in this area,” Brian said. “Our dedication is to that and we really try to keep the fire going.”

Brian and Lori went to kindergarten together and grew up in New Middletown. Their families did all of their shopping downtown – cars, groceries, medicine, hardware – everything from A to Z.

Brian and Lori went to kindergarten together and grew up in New Middletown. Their families did all of their shopping downtown – cars, groceries, medicine, hardware – everything from A to Z.

“There’s a personal piece of that for us – our heart’s in this,” Brian said. “It’s something we care about greatly. It’s a dedication.”

Lori manages properties downtown as well and they’re managing the property next to them with the goal of opening a wine shop this spring in the space. Brian is in the middle of the restoration and remodel of that part of the building now.

Their goal, as with the store, is to make the town inviting. Corydon sees tourists through the year, many visiting for caving or festivals. The store coordinates its hours with what’s happening in town.

Their goal, as with the store, is to make the town inviting. Corydon sees tourists through the year, many visiting for caving or festivals. The store coordinates its hours with what’s happening in town.

“We coordinate with the Farmers Market and there are people that come in here every Friday night or come in after eating at 1816 Café,” Lori said. “We partake in all the downtown events.”

Meeting the variety of people that come into their store is one of Lori’s favorite parts of the job. One day recently, she met a couple who came into town from Evansville to camp and they came to the store to look around.

“I talked to them about all of the shops that were open and they were so excited to spend the whole day down here and have lunch and everything,” Lori said. “At the end of the day, this was a place they could come to.”

On top of the Emporium, the new store and their other property management, the Bates also run an Airbnb in their office space. It’s an 1890s home and has undergone restoration from front to back.

“We stay booked quite a bit,” Lori said. “We have a guest book and when they sign the guest book a lot of them are here for the caves in the summer and in the fall.”

With demographics changing over the past few years and young families moving into town, the Shorts think people are looking for places to go and are hoping to be a piece of helping the town thrive.

“We grew up here, our families are from here; it really means something for us to have this be a place for people to be.  It’s in our heart and soul – I think that’s what makes it work.”

“We grew up here, our families are from here; it really means something for us to have this be a place for people to be,” Brian said. “It’s in our heart and soul – I think that’s what makes it work.”

Check out the Vintage Treasures Antique Mall & Flea Emporium on Mulberry Street in Corydon or on their Facebook page.

 

Story Darian Decker 

Photos by Michelle Hockman

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