COLUMBIA — A disembodied mannequin head was for sale at the Ice Chalet Antique Mall’s new location on Business Loop 70 on Sunday, and a headless torso was among the marked-down merchandise left behind at the soon-to-be-closed Grindstone location near U.S. 63.
Though temporarily divided between two buildings, the body of the Ice Chalet’s inventory is available until its Oct. 15 close of sales at Grindstone.
Jim LaRue, one of the building’s three owners, is moving his business to The Market Place, a well-known antique spot at 1100 Business Loop 70 W., in anticipation of the Grindstone property’s sale.
LaRue has been busy moving vendors, who have been bringing over their wares bit by bit.
LaRue said the building was never officially for sale, but a few developers approached the owners about the property.
“We’ve had offers before, but none that were good enough,” he said smiling.
While the sale is not complete, LaRue said he thought it was a good idea to go ahead and start moving so he wouldn’t be rushed later. If for some reason one of the developers doesn’t buy the property, LaRue said he’ll put it up for sale.
The new location is smaller than the sprawling former ice rink on Grindstone, so the roughly 90 vendors making the move have been busy pruning their collections. There are about 200 vendors in the Ice Chalet Antique Mall. For some, it’s a welcomed spring cleaning.
“I had one dealer say, ‘The best thing you could do to me is to make me clean up,” LaRue said.
Wilma Garrett, a vendor who was setting up her booth at The Market Place on Saturday, agreed that it was time to weed some things out of her stock.
“We had a lot more space at the Ice Chalet, so I had to downsize and make some decisions,” she said. “But this is a good opportunity to clean things up.”
Garrett, who has been moving her merchandise for the past three weeks, said she is sorry to see the old building go.
“It’s just got such a wonderful history,” she said.
Since its construction in 1975, the Ice Chalet has been an ice rink, tennis and soccer courts and an antique mall. LaRue said that, while there was a unique ambiance to the old building, there are things he’s not going to miss. Among them are the 28-foot-high ceilings.
“I’m not going to miss having to build scaffolding every time I want to change a light bulb,” LaRue said.
The Market Place is also more energy efficient.
Because the Ice Chalet was built to house an ice rink, the building was difficult to heat and cool, LaRue said. When it was a skating rink, the ice kept the building cool in the summer, and there was no need for heat in the winter.
Light bulbs and electric bills aside, LaRue said it was just time for the 13-year-old business to change.
“The average lifespan of an antique mall is 6 to 8 years,” he said. “Maybe business had gotten a little bit stale.”
Shoppers picking through the stock at the Grindstone location didn’t seem to think so, especially considering that much of the merchandise is discounted 50 percent or more.
“I’m probably going to spend more money today than I ever have,” said David Howell, a shopper at the Grindstone location who was looking for antique bottles to add to his collection Saturday.
Michelle Harris, who was visiting Columbia from Dallas for the MU-Nebraska football game, was combing the booths for Depression-era and milk glass.
She had only been to the Ice Chalet twice, she said, but she liked it and planned to go to the new location the next time she visits Columbia.
LaRue said he is not sure what will happen to the old building when it is sold, and that its destiny is none of his business. He’s ready to move on.
For her part, Garrett agreed. Looking at the opulent array of antiques and collectibles in her new booth at the Market Place, she smiled and said, “You move on, you change.”