WHEATLAND – LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, MAY I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE. Blackburn’s Emporium is now open and ready for your perusing pleasure.
Last Saturday Mitch Blackburn, store proprietor and his girlfriend Liz officially cut the ribbon, so to speak that marked the grand opening of the store at 877 Gilchrist Street in Wheatland.
The emporium boasts big plate glass windows, great for peeping and gawking that will hold different displays each month. It will one day be a gathering place in the footprints of yesteryear’s soda fountain, restoring it to its former glory.
The building, which was formerly leased by Stoll Taxidermy until they decided to move a few blocks to the west is currently owned by Dan Brecht who owns The Wandering Hermit Bookstore located next door to the emporium at 875 Gilchrist Street.
“It was just a prime location,” Blackburn said. “The opportunity came around and I had to jump on it because not only is it a great location, but I want to bring things to the community.”
One of the ideas that Blackburn is putting forth is a return to a simpler time. Similar to the idea of cruise nights in Wheatland. A remembering the good old days.
“We don’t want it so crowded that you can’t move around,” Blackburn said. “Just come in and sit down and get on the WIFI, play some games, and eventually we will bring in cherry cola so you can sit down with friends, have a soda and just chit chat.”
The shop has installed a few restaurant booths and a children’s area for coloring and playing with toys. Future plans include a remodel complete with an old soda fountain bar for ice cream drinks and sundaes.
Blackburn who has been collecting unique items for years has amassed five full storage units at Arrowhead Storage where he will eventually draw from when things begin to sell in the new shop. He also has plans to open those storage units for a garage sale atmosphere on certain advertised weekends.
“Those units have my excess overflow,” Blackburn said. “Some of that stuff won’t come to the shop, but I will have a rotating stock and when something goes, something else will come in. Hopefully you won’t see the same stuff every time you come in.”
Blackburn says that he goes to auctions, bids on abandoned storage units, frequensts estate sales and even purchases things from other local shops in the area.
“I also have quite a bit of music,” Blackburn said. “If you want to buy a CD, come in and play it. If you don’t like it, don’t buy it, if you like it, take it home with you. I have vinyl, old 8-tracks, cassettes and I have a wide variety of stereo equipment and even old radios.”
Blackburn is working a deal to get an old Victrola wind-up record player into the shop and he already has 78s records dating back to the early 1900s along with 45s and 33s, and his vinyl collection alone could most likely take up most of the shop space.
Walking through this eclectic antique shop is like taking a step back in time. Many things that the youngsters have never seen are alongside items that older people had grown up with from Hawkeye cameras to Westminster Chime clocks to saddles, western hats and unique specialty cookie jars all reasonably priced.
“When pricing, I try to get a little percentage of what I’ve purchased it for,” Blackburn said. “Add in the operating costs, but basically what I do is, if I buy it for a dollar, I don’t need a hundred for it. I’m going to be reasonable on the pricing where, if you’re happy, I’m happy, and you’ll come back.”
There is a plethora of eclectic at the new emporium including many items that would be considered conversation pieces if you put them in your home. Perhaps you would like to purchase a life-size Ninja Turtle or perhaps an old 1960s barber chair, the Blackburn Emporium is the place to go.
Blackburn said that so far, the biggest challenge has been to get all the items priced.
“The biggest challenges are the pricing because I want to be fair to everyone and this coronavirus has really put a damper on things,” he said. “We should have probably been open a month ago. We are going to be practicing social distancing and maybe five people in at a time because there is enough people in here to do social distancing.”
Store hours are going to vary at first and eventually Blackburn is going have to hire some extra help since he is also still holding down a job as the maintenance supervisor at the fairgrounds. If you have any questions or inquiries if you are looking for a specific item, you can call Blackburn at (936) 672-7528 or you can email him at [email protected]
The entire interview with Blackburn will be appearing on a future episode of “Homespun,” the Platte County web-based digital pod cast. Check the Homespun past and present videos atwww.pcrecordtimes.com.