RICHMOND, Ind. — A new store geared toward traditional men’s interests — cars, trains and planes — recently opened in the city’s historic Depot District.

Grandpa’s Garage, 183 Fort Wayne Ave., features a wide variety of vintage car parts, automotive magazines, model cars and trains and decorative commercial signs.

Richard and Linda Butler opened the Depot District location in early September, and it’s still being filled out with merchandise. Even so, they said the store’s location — wedged between Little Sheba’s and Roscoe’s, and across the street from Richmond Furniture Gallery — has provided a lot of opportunities for those curious about the store to pop in and check it out.

“We have been busy since opening, and I think that speaks a lot to the kind of traffic that comes through the district every day,” Richard Butler said. “This is a unique store, and I think we are already starting to set ourselves apart. The Depot District has a great variety of places; it’s why we wanted to locate down here.”

The 2,500-square-foot store, which the owners relocated from Springfield, Ohio as part of their move to Richmond, carries items that are generally a larger draw for men, Linda Butler said.

“We aren’t trying to limit our customer base, and we want people to feel welcome in this store,” she said. “But it really isn’t like (normal) antique stores. It’s a ‘man-tique’ store; that is, it has items that generally appeal more to men than they do to women.

“Most antique stores you see have things that, from what I’ve seen, men generally don’t have an interest in,” she said.

The store has space for vendors to sell their own items, including five showcases. Richard Butler said one of the showcases is already in use by a Lionel model train collector, who hopes to use the booth to sell O-gauge models he has doubles of in his own collection.

The store also sells customizable stop lights that can be designed to say just about anything by a third-party seller with whom Grandpa’s Garage works on a customer’s behalf.

“You can get it to say whatever you want,” Linda Butler said. “They’ll design it using a real stop light.”

Richard Butler said he is continuing to look for additional vendors who are interested in selling their own memorabilia, and hopes to eventually offer slot cars, Model-T collectibles and other items from the automotive world.

“We want to have a little bit of everything,” Butler said. “I think when people come in and see what kind of things we have to offer, they’re going to be surprised. We want them to be able to find new and interesting things.”

The store also carries hard-to-find parts — and often knows how to get those it doesn’t have — for vintage cars, he said.

“People would come to us a lot (over in Ohio) when they were looking for something,” Butler said. “We hope that continues.”

During its three years in Springfield, Grandpa’s Garage was considered a destination spot, Butler said. That store was 31,000 square feet and featured more than 200 vendor areas. He said he is hopeful the new Depot District store will grow in the coming years, and said expansion is a distinct possibility if the local customer base continues to grow.

“We had people from all over who would come to (the Springfield) store,” he said. “This one is quite a bit smaller than that, but it’s the same concept. We just want to share our love of these things with others who have a passion for them.”

The old store also hosted events and toy car races, on occasion; that’s something that Richard Butler said they’re interested in having again, in due time. Butler said he has hopes the store can also become a meeting place for area car clubs, and that the shop can get involved in local car shows and other events.

“We welcome creative uses of this space,” he said. “We really would love seeing families come in here; it’s a great thing to see kids’ faces light up at the sight of all the stuff we have.”

The Butlers moved to Richmond to be closer to family, and bought the renovated, historic McGuire House along East Main Street in June. They said they are hopeful that those from around Wayne County, and beyond, will be drawn to the store’s variety of merchandise.

“There aren’t many places around here, or really in this region, that have the sorts of things we do,” Linda Butler said. “We are hopeful that as we continue to grow, we’ll be able to offer even more. We want this to be a fun place for people to come spend some time.”

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Source: Palladium-Item, http://pinews.co/2fUOOn0


Information from: Palladium-Item, http://www.pal-item.com

This is an AP-Indiana Exchange story offered by the Palladium-Item.

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MICKEY SHUEY
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