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Detroit – When Margaret Redmond-Squires learned from a customer last year that the building housing Eastern Market Antiques had been sold, the longtime vendor was worried. What would happen to the shop where she’d sold vintage items for 27 years?

“That’s when you start thinking, where am I going to go, what am I going to do, am I done?” she said. “People started trying to make decisions. We didn’t know how long it would take… It got a little scary.”

After a few months in limbo, the vendors worked out a plan with the building’s new owner, developer Sanford Nelson, to transition from the building at 2530 Market, which needed repair, to a new space around the corner at 1515 Division. Nelson of FIRM Real Estate also owns that building. 

The move brings a rebranding for the collective of 20-plus antique dealers as Vintage Eastern Market. The business will have its grand opening Saturday.

“I wasn’t ready to hang up my hat,” said Redmond-Squires. “I’m a retired Detroit school teacher. I did this on the weekend for many years and I wasn’t ready to hang up my hat.”

Redmond-Squires will take on a new role with the opening of Vintage Eastern Market. Larry Smith, owner of Eastern Market Antiques, was retiring so Redmond-Squires teamed up with another vendor, Martin Nickens, as co-owners in the new venture.

The business isn’t the first to do a shop shuffle as investors purchase Eastern Market properties. In the fall, Discount Candles on Gratiot moved to a storefront down the street after the new owner of its previous building raised rents. Nelson owns the building that now houses Discount Candles.

"We were happy that Eastern Market Antiques could make sort of the transition from one operator who retired to a new owner, and from one space to another, so it was a great use and it was good that we could keep that in the market," said Dan Carmody, president of the Eastern Market Partnership, the nonprofit that manages the market.

"We're always trying to keep the businesses that are here, and trying to figure out how a space that needs to be renovated can get renovated," he added. 

Nelson said he plans to renovate the old Eastern Market Antiques building and keep it as commercial space. He said he doesn't yet have a budget or timeline for the renovations. He said he owns about 20 properties in the Eastern Market area. 

"All of these buildings need work. Some more than others," he said. "We always try our best to do the work that is needed without having to relocate tenants, but in situations where we do ... we always work with those tenants to try to find a solution and give them the time that they need to make that transition and to find a space that works for them."

Nearly 30 vendors will sell their items on Division Street, in a 5,000-square-foot space that's half the size of the Market Street location. Nelson said because it’s all on the ground level, the space is more efficient with a better flow.

Redmond-Squires said shoppers will find mid-century modern and industrial items, as well as glassware, high-end vintage clothing and postcards.

“People aren’t really looking so much for the old antiques like we used to sell,” she said. “They’re looking more for industrial."

Vendor Max Darling said he’s looking forward to selling in the new space. He’s new to selling the vintage clothing and accessories he’s collected over the years, but no stranger to Eastern Market Antiques. He shopped there when it first opened and helped his mother sell her items there several years.

“It’s exciting for me now…” Darling said. “My home away from home will be Vintage Eastern Market.”

The last day in the store on Market Street felt surreal, Redmond-Squires said. The vendors gathered for a group photo on the staircase many shoppers had traveled up and down for years as they hunted for treasures.

“People came in to say goodbye,” she said. “People came in to say hello and to give us encouragement and to say "hey, we’re going to see you at your new shop," and let us know they were there for us.”

cwilliams@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @CWilliams_DN

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