New showcase in Arundel for those old treasures Dozens of dealers collect under one roof near Fort Meade

July 16, 1996|By Tanya Jones | Tanya Jones,SUN STAFF

Collecting is in the genes, says Elaine Ezell.

And she and partner George Newhouse are banking that enough people have the collecting gene to make their new antiques mall near Fort Meade a success.

The AAA Antiques Mall, in the former Jamesway Department Store at Ridgeview Plaza on Route 175, has items from 165 dealers under one roof, with space for more than 400.

"We want people to come here and spend the day," Newhouse said. On a recent afternoon, about a dozen shoppers browsed. "I like old things," said Carla Jones as she strolled along. The glass cases filled with "what not," or smaller items, especially intrigued Jones, an Army captain stationed at Fort Meade.

"This is wonderful," she said. "I've never seen so many pieces all in one place."

Sixty glass showcases line the center cross aisle and are filled with elegant glass, china, jewelry, black memorabilia, and other collections.

Perpendicular to the showcase aisle, rows of wooden peg board form the wide aisles for larger displays of furniture and other items. The booths are not partitioned, but most displays are arranged to look like bedrooms, living rooms or dining rooms. Tags indicate the dealer number.

Booth 400, for example, is arranged to look like a room in a country house, complete with a white quilt with a green and red floral design hung on the peg board wall. The $345 price tag notes that the quilt comes from southwestern Pennsylvania and is about 130 years old.

Ezell, 57, and Newhouse, 55, and their employees handle all the purchases and customer questions. The dealers simply set up their displays and leave them behind.

That arrangement appealed to Geri Seibert, who closed her antique furniture shop in Old Bowie in May and rented space for some of her items at the mall instead.

"You have to spend so much time manning it," she said of her shop. "Here, you don't have to sit."

Seibert, 65, uses her newfound time to locate and refinish old furniture.

Antiques malls offer convenience to shoppers as well, said Julie Baker, the Baltimore regional representative for the Antique BTC Dealers Association of Maryland and owner of Antique Center I II III at Historic Savage Mill in Howard County.

"People do drive quite a distance to come to one, thinking that it's one-stop antiquing," Baker said.

For Ezell and Newhouse, owners of Cruets Cruets Cruets in Annapolis, opening the mall was a natural progression. After retiring from the Department of Defense in 1991, they had planned to find a southern plantation and Victorian house and open an antiques mall there. Instead they opened the shop in Annapolis in 1992, named for the glass oil and vinegar bottles in which they specialize "We got so tied up here we never moved away," Ezell said.

When they saw that Jamesway would be going out of business, they decided to start their dream here. Ezell and Newhouse have a 10-year lease for the 58,000-square-foot space, Newhouse said. Dealers can rent booth space from 10 feet by 9 feet up to as large as necessary for $2.50 a square foot. The display cases go for $75 a month. The owners expect to have the mall filled with dealers within a year.

Though the mall is consuming much of their time these days, Ezell and Newhouse have not given up on their southern dream. "Our plan is when we get this one running to go and open another one down south," Newhouse said.

Pub Date: 7/16/96

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