Treasures untold

Old Town Antique Market covers 20,000 square feet of Vancouver’s Main Street and fills it easily with countless antiques and three other businesses.

Owner Nicole Leslie sells antiques from about 40 consigners and leases space to about 60 antiques dealers inside the store. The site is also now home to Bumblebean Coffee and Tea, Zephyr Used and Rare Books and Flowers 2 U Vancouver.

“It’s great to have several things that complement each other,” Leslie said. “It’s a little market place.”

Last February, an electrical fire on the building’s third floor closed half of the store for six months.

To accommodate her newly cramped dealers, Leslie stored her own merchandise for six months and lost about $25,000 in sales and space rentals. Zephyr lost about $50,000 worth of antique books, according to Leslie, who said she thought news reports gave the impression the whole store was closed, adding to the challenge.

The store hasn’t yet recovered that loss, but new opportunities are blossoming.

The renovated side of the store reopened in July, and in December, Bumblebean Coffee and Tea opened inside the store. It’s run by Leslie’s daughter, Neoma Leslie, who serves mostly local products.

Bumblebean was meant for the antiques customers, but Neoma Leslie said it also draws passing coffee drinkers. She said the set-up benefits both businesses.

“The café wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the antique mall,” said Neoma Leslie. “We have a symbiotic relationship.”

Old Town moved to Vancouver two years ago after nearly 15 years in downtown Portland. Initially, the Vancouver store covered 10,000 square feet, then doubled with the addition of an adjacent space in January 2007. Leslie hopes to buy half the total space in March and the rest next year.

“Had the fire not closed that side for six months, we would probably be further ahead in the game,” said Leslie, who did not disclose revenues. “We were supporting ourselves here with every expectation that the (fire-damaged) side would take care of itself.”

Dealer spaces rent for $2.75 per square foot and display cases start at $65. Old Town gets 10 percent of dealers’ sales and 35 percent of consigners’. The dealer and consigner contracts outline extensive merchandise criteria.

“I’ve seen too many (antique stores) turn into gift shops or flea markets,” Leslie said. “I have to be vigilant.

“I truly appreciate the quality and craftsmanship of everything in here, especially considering the disposable (product) society we have today. It’s a good place for a treasure.”

Old Town Antique Market

Nicole Leslie, owner

806 and 808 Main St., Vancouver



Charity Thompson can be reached at

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