VERONA — As shoppers walk by, Alice Higgins carefully weaves cane through the back of a chair, restoring the decades-old piece of furniture back to new.
The 55-year-old Higgins started her business, Higgins Chair Caning, in 2005 after working in a furniture restoration shop.
“A lot of people would come in the shop and ask about [chair caning],” she said. “I figured I should learn how to do it.”
Higgins moved into a space at the Factory Antique Mall in Verona about five years ago to gain more exposure.
“There’s a lot of traffic that comes through here,” said Higgins, who has had customers from up and down the East Coast. “Everyone that comes through seems to have a chair that needs attention.”
Aiming For A Record
Higgins is one of roughly 225 dealers at the 18-year-old business.
Originally opened in 1996 as a flea market, the antique mall located off Exit 227 on Interstate 81 has grown steadily over the years.
Last summer, a 15,000-square-foot artisan’s section opened, bringing the total square footage of the mall to more than 105,000.
The mall’s general manager, Jason Brinkley, said the country’s largest antique mall is the Heart of America Antique Center in Springfield, Ohio. That mall features 116,000 square feet.
Later this year, Brinkley said, the Verona mall will expand and surpass the Ohio store, making the Shenandoah Valley shopping venue the largest of its kind in the United States.
“It’s a great accomplishment,” said Brinkley, adding that the mall started at 60,000 square feet. “We’re at full capacity and we have a waiting list.”
Whether customers are looking for a piece of antique furniture to complete their living or dining room or a sports collectible for the man cave, the Factory Antique Mall likely has what they are looking for, explained Brinkley.
“We have something for everyone,” he said.
Marci Hopkins has been selling items at the mall for years.
“I do a little bit of everything … I can’t specialize,” said Hopkins, who sells a variety of goods, including vintage clothing and jewelry. “My husband told me I had to pick one thing but I can’t.”
Contact Pete DeLea at 574-6278 or firstname.lastname@example.org