Patrons swarm to theater’s big sale

A variety of items, including seats and opera glasses, were sold
Monday, August 6, 2007 | 12:02 a.m. CDT; updated 1:14 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 14, 2008
Valeri Baker browses through old seats at the Missouri Theatre on Sunday.

COLUMBIA-About 15 people were already waiting outside the Missouri Theatre half an hour before the doors opened for its “The-Kind-of-Stuff-You-Find-in-a-Historic-Theatre” sale Sunday morning. By the time the sale started at 10 a.m., at least 100 people were swarming the building.

Patrons stopped into the theater to snag whatever relics were up for sale. Doors and mirrors lined the hallway leading to the theater. Inside the theater itself, people were sifting through mountains of red velvet theater chairs, boxes upon boxes of plastic marquee letters and tables full of 25-cent opera glasses and old props such as candle holders, kitchen appliances and vases.


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Ilene Van Abbema of Boonville stood in line to check out tubs full of holly and garbage bags full of other home decor items. Although Van Abbema didn’t find what she came looking for, she didn’t leave disappointed.

“I’m opening a restaurant in downtown Boonville,” Van Abbema said. “I was looking for something crazy or unusual to decorate the restaurant with and couldn’t find anything. But I did get some Christmas decorations.”

Marilyn Cummins’ son, William Fandek, sat in a mustard yellow leather chair, making sure no one else claimed it, while his mother kept searching for things to purchase. The chair, which looks like it came straight from the Brady Bunch’s living room, was surrounded by cardboard boxes full of other potential home decorations.

Cummins and her son came to the sale with the intention of buying furniture, but it wasn’t the only thing they were checking out that day.

“We also got this sparkly ‘W’ marquee letter for my son, William, to hang in his room,” Cummins said, as she proudly held up a red plastic “W” with gold sequins.

Even though the theater sale may be a chance for a great home makeover, people also know the theater itself as a Columbia staple.

Cummins has been a patron of the Missouri Theatre since she was a student at MU in the 1970s. Her experiences there over the years are what drive her to believe the theater is an unforgettable part of Columbia.

“We moved back to Columbia (from Philadelphia) in 2000,” Cummins said. “And it’s things like the Missouri Theatre and the activities there that make us not miss the East Coast.”

Van Beydler of Jefferson City stood guarding four boxes full of plastic marquee letters and a set of speakers. He said this is a great opportunity for the theater to have a sale.

“People have gone to this theater growing up,” Beydler said. “Taking these things home help keep memories alive.”

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