|By Connie Swaim
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — Often the talk in the antiques industry is one of gloom and doom, but the folks at Vendors’ Village are full of optimism and looking toward a bright future. They just opened their fifth business under the Vendors’ Village name in November.
The new business is located in Terre Haute in Honey Creek Mall, taking over a 70,000 square foot space formally occupied by Carson’s. The mall is conveniently located near I-70 on the south side of the city. The space has room for 400 vendors and 100 showcases. While many of the spaces are filled, there is still some room available and the owners report new dealers are arriving every week.
Vendors’ Village is a concept fashioned by brothers Matt and Eli Jeffery of Louisville, Ky. The brothers had been visiting local shops and malls and decided there was an opportunity for them to start a new business venture. They first visited as many antique malls and vintage shops as they could find and took notes of what they thought worked well and what didn’t work. They then took their business plan to their father, Tom, who looked it over and pronounced it sound.
The family went through a dozen names before coming up with Vendors’ Village. They wanted their new business model to be like a village of vendors who were a tight knit group according to Tom. The first business opened in Leitchfield, Ky., in 2010. Since then locations have been added in Danville, Ky., and Clarksville and Jeffersonville, Ind.
The businesses all follow the same basic format with 90 percent of the merchandise being in the antique/vintage category and the other 10 percent being new home décor type merchandise. Matt says it is not the economy that is causing angst in the antiques community; it is the inability of some people to understand the changing market.
The target merchandise at Vendors’ Village will fall more into the vintage/retro type of categories vs. true antiques. Allowing some new merchandise into the mix also helps draw in buyers who might not come into an antique shop he said. He pointed out that only a certain percentage of people would be interested in strictly antiques, so by opening the merchandise up to a wider selection, they get more shoppers. However, he is quick to point out they are not a flea market atmosphere at all.
“We did great over the Christmas season,” Tom said. “The vendors were overwhelmed.” He added that many people came in for the newer decorator items but most left with something older as well.
“The economy is rebounding,” Matt said. “Antiquers just have to recognize the changing customer base.”
The Terre Haute version of Vendors’ Village is the first of the shops to actually be inside a shopping mall. “It is more costly for us here (inside the mall) but we have been very pleased so far. We are definitely not going to complain,” Matt said.
“We have been looking at the Terre Haute market for four or five years,” Tom added. “We think there is a good market and great opportunity here.” This location is also the largest of the five shops.
Currently the Terre Haute mall is offering a special to experienced vendors only. Those vendors can get three months rent free upon signing a six-month contract. This is a way for the mall to get some great dealers for the space, Matt said.
For information on all of the locations visit www.vendorsvillage.com. You can also call the shop in Terre Haute at (812) 235-9326.