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Collectors collaborate on new store in historic building

Staff writer

What better location for a new antique store than in a building with a story fit for a big screen?

Steve Blackwell, owner, has been diligently spending his time, energy, and money restoring a building on Peabody’s 1880’s Main Street, along with the help of business partners Christine Flaming and Morgan Marler.

The trio’s new shop, Fannie Sterling 1884, opened Saturday and will have its formal grand opening this Saturday along with Peabody Market.

The condition of neighboring attached Baker buildings indicates how much has changed about this space. Floors are dilapidated, walls are peeling, and a dusty scent almost transports visitors back to when stores were filled.

“There were 100 years worth of well-intentioned repairs done and a lot of structural issues,” Marler said. “So now, the building will last another 100 years.”

The building is one of five on the west side of Walnut St. owned by Baker Lofts, LLC.

All needed new roofs several years ago. A grant from Kansas State Historical Society helped pay for new roofing. Terms of the grant forbid Baker Lofts LLC to sell or profit from the buildings until Jan. 1, 2021.

Blackwell is responsible for taxes, insurance, and bringing the building up to code.

The name is inspired by a family that repaired the building and opened a mortuary and furniture store in it after a fire in 1884.

“We’re choosing business plans that fit the vision for downtown, and attract more visitors and to increase sales tax,” Marler said. “The entire downtown is on the National Register of Historic Places. There aren’t too many downtown districts in the country that can boast that title.”

At its soft opening Saturday, Fannie Sterling 1884 bustled with people, local and from away, who perused antiques sold out of an antique building.

“It’s all happened pretty quick,” Blackwell said. “I’ve been working on the building close to two months.”

Brightly colored wallpaper from the ’70s with women from different eras greets you as you walk in. A wall covered with corrugated tin is on the opposite side, and vintage and repurposed pieces for sale occupy the space in between.

Morgan Marler, Steve Blackwell, and Christine Flaming’s love of all things unique and antique create the nostalgic environment.

“We have a little bit of everything,” Flaming said. “If we don’t have it, you don’t need it. These are quality pieces at fair prices. We can help find people who need that one last piece to finish a collection, or the piece to start a collection.

“Yes, you can live modernly and still have some vintage and antiques that add quirkiness to your home. It brings personality.”

Fannie Sterling 1884 features both repurposed and original furniture, gas and oil collectables, vintage clothing, farmhouse décor, and a coffee bar.

“We have some retro and some mid-century modern,” Flaming said “and anything that really catches our eye that doesn’t really fit into a category.”

Colin Moralez, Blackwell’s 10 year-old grandson, has been helping Blackwell and his wife, Kelma, with the restoration. His grandparents have even deemed a back corner of the store “Colin’s Corner.” It will feature various pieces that caught the young boy’s interest.

Fannie Sterling 1884 will be open noon to 7p.m. Fridays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays, and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays.

Last modified June 28, 2018

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