Photo Series: The Antique Center, a Hall of Memories


Image retrieved from Antique Center Facebook.

Henry Anderson, Photojournalist

Doing something means a lot of different things to different people. It could mean everything from going to grab something to eat to going to the movies or even taking a walk in the park.

Along with this desire to do something enjoyable with extra time, people are helping the local businesses in La Crosse grow. Additionally, as more focus is put into building up the downtown area of La Crosse, and the decline of the Valley View Mall, local businesses can begin to thrive increasingly.

Furthermore, in order to continue helping local businesses grow, exposure is often necessary in order to get the process started. A perfect place to start is the local Antique Center in downtown La Crosse. Located on Third Street, one of the main streets that runs through downtown La Crosse, the Antique Center is, as its name suggests, a three-story shop that sells numerous kinds of antique items.

“Technically, an antique is over 100 years old. If this place sold only antiques, we would not be in business right now,” states Kim Calkins. Calkins continues by saying, “We realistically sell antiques, collectibles, retro, vintage, and however you define all of those terms.” Besides this minor name discrepancy, the Antique Center is still a place where one can find items from past years.

For example, Kim Calkins, as previously mentioned, is one of the dealers that work out of the Antique Center. “We [Calkins and his wife] had a lot of older, collectible and retro pieces and we decided to try to get a booth at the Antique Center,” describes Calkins. Calkins continues by saying, “So, we did get a booth here; and we have been here since 2010 or 11, I believe.”

Along with being a dealer, in 2017, Calkins became one of the owners of the Antique Center. For that reason, along with being a dealer that sells items out of his booth, Calkins also helps run the store which includes keeping the till. “[The Antique Center] is a cooperative,” Calkins said.

“It is not one person’s store, and it is not consigned merchandise,” said Calkins. Giving more insight into how the Antique Center is run, Calkins said that, “There are 38 different dealers, that all own their own merchandise, and sell it through the Antique Center and 8 of us that are the ‘owners’ of the Antique Center. We lease the building and then re-lease the space out to ourselves and then to other dealers.”

“We are all small business owners,” said Lori. Lori, along with her sister Jane, is a dealer with a couple of booths at the Antique Center. The pair initially got into the antiquing business because of an early childhood of collection and appreciation. “Mom collected Depression wear and our family could be considered the original ‘green people,’” says Lori. She continues by saying, “We liked to see every item that had a purpose fulfill it and not go to waste,” with Jane adding, “We didn’t want these items to be thrown away.”

Through this collecting and saving of old items, a connection for the two sisters began to form that eventually lead them to work at the Antique Center. Similar to this, Scott, another dealer, and co-owner of the Antique Center sells collectibles that can be traced back to interests he had before his 25-year tenure at the Antique Center. “Coins and currency are some things that I always liked collecting,” says Scott. Vinyl records, along with coins, are something that Scott likes to collect and sell.

Beyond just trying to sell old and antique items, the dealers at the Antique Centers are very knowledgeable about the items that they sell. Along with this knowledge, the dealers are trying to bring people unique items that they might connect with on a deep and personal level. Whether that be an item they grew up around or an item they have a fond memory of, the dealers are there to connect people with items that they and others find intriguing and personal. Lori said, “along with the antiques that we sell, we sell memories.”

So, if you spot anything in these pictures that entice you, feel free to stop by the Antique Center in downtown La Crosse; located at 110 3rd St S, La Crosse, WI 54601. They are open every day of the week from 9:00 to 5:30, except Sundays when they are open from 11:00 to 5:30. Additionally, coming up is their Red Tag Sale! This sale, running from February 14 through 28 features items up to 50% off throughout the entire store. So, if you need a last-minute Valentine’s Day gift, stop at the Antique Center, where memories are sold.