Shop co-ops boost Glen Burnie district Antiques stores thrive together GLEN BURNIE

October 21, 1992|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,Staff Writer

From the outside, Chesapeake Marketplace looks like one antiques store sprawled across two refurbished turn-of-the-century buildings.

But inside, six collectibles shops are in the making.

One of about a half-dozen such commercial co-ops in Glen Burnie, the storefront at Crain Highway and Central Avenue brings together similar shops, allowing the established ones to expand and the smaller ones to get started. Here, rents of a few hundred dollars a month include utilities, insurance, even group advertising.

Open downstairs are Chesapeake Collectibles & Antiques and its companion, Chesapeake Book Loft. The books, sheet music, Depression glassware and furniture moved from a few blocks away, where they had outgrown their quarters, said owner Joseph Steward.

The move enabled him to create a book nook by a false fireplace and display wares from a growing, 4-year-old antiques business.

Upstairs, four bedroom-sized rooms will become incubators for collectibles businesses just getting started. An oak railing separates a part of the upstairs hallway into what Mr. Steward hopes will be a gallery for yet another shop.

Mr. Steward, also Chesapeake Marketplace's manager, said he plans to take the sharing concept further, by joining with a few nearby collectibles dealers to finance a "walking tour" map of Glen Burnie.

The Chesapeake buildings, at 2-4 Crain Highway, also house The Charles Group, a 13-year-old remodeling and homebuilding business. Owner Charles Shurman spent $260,000 to buy and refurbish the vacant dilapidated structures earlier this year. One building had housed Albrecht's Pharmacy; the other had been everything from a post office to medical offices.

"I just thought it was a great location," he said.

So did Mr. Steward. When the former accountant from Arnold asked to rent the bulk of the two buildings, Mr. Shurman dropped his idea of a downstairs showroom for his own business.

People who have expressed interest in renting upstairs spaces range from couples who hope to turn a weekend hobby into a money-making venture to individuals who want to sell collectibles to feed an antiques addiction.

Mr. Steward hopes the one-page guide to old Glen Burnie's antiques shops will hit the streets next month.

He predicted that being part of an antiques center, in an area of Glen Burnie where several antiques stores lie within a few minutes' walk, would boost sales. Potential customers will browse, meandering from shop to shop, picking up items that strike their fancy, he said.

"It's the center effect that makes it profitable," said Tom Guckenburg, vice president for commercial and industrial real estate for Coldwell Banker Home Realty Professionals in the county. "You get antique buffs just because they are looking for antiques," he said.

"It's become a fad in the past few years in the antiques world," said Sherry Mercer, who has her own shop downstairs and seven smaller ones upstairs in the Neatest Little Shop, nearby on Baltimore and Annapolis Boulevard. There, sellers cover for each other so no shop is closed, but at Chesapeake, shops will be shut if the operator is gone.

Dealers hope the antiques and crafts shops spaces that have sprung up in Glen Burnie are harbingers of a rebirth of the old business district as an area of quaint shops.

Another center, a food market, may be in the offing.

Mr. Guckenburg is doing feasibility studies for one to occupy the former Robinson's store, which faces Ritchie Highway and B&A Boulevard.

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