FAIRMONT – Louis and Deloris Spatafore have lived much of their lives at 205 Adams St.
Their kids practically grew up in the crowded halls of souvenirs, art pieces and keepsakes that compose the bread and butter of the business of Arts and Antiques Marketplace since 1978.
Now, after more than 40 years of ownership, the Spatafores have sold the business and the building to Claudio Corporation.
“You spend how much time of your life in one place, you get attached,” Louis said. “We’ve been walking around the building and it’s time to move on and it’s time to turn this over to somebody.”
The Claudio Corporation took ownership of all the building’s assets, vendors and customer contracts effective July 1, according to a press release from the holding company. Despite the change of ownership, Dominick Claudio, founder and CEO of Claudio Corporation, said the transition will not be a move away from the mission of Arts and Antiques Marketplace.
“We believe in downtown redevelopment, reurbanization, reuse and we see that for small businesses, the best opportunity is to start downtown,” Claudio said.
According to Claudio, the purchase of the business and building is in line with the corporation’s own goal of small business development. The company already owns businesses in several other disciplines, ranging from consignment to rentals.
So aside from the opportunity to add another type of business to the corporation’s portfolio, Claudio said his appreciation for the business and the building itself spurred an even greater interest for him.
“The main reason for really coming to that area was a good opportunity in the downtown,” Claudio said. “I think that building is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen and it deserves to be preserved and protected for generations to come.”
Claudio also believes that looking at the building’s past can give insight about its future potential. After hearing that downtown Fairmont has been on the decline for so many years, this sentiment is not echoed by what Claudio himself has observed, in fact it’s quite the opposite.
A trip downtown to watch the Independence Day fireworks showed that in one night.
“I’ve owned property in downtown Fairmont for about a year now, and that entire time, everybody wants to tell me how dead downtown is,” he said. “So I go (July 4) and it’s alive, it’s vibrant, it’s packed with people and it’s a wonderful sign for me for things to come downtown, because for the last 140 years, people gave been gathering in these downtown districts even if there wasn’t much to attend.
“The opportunity is now to work with our downtowns.”
Louis said that the creation of an antique shop in downtown Fairmont came about in an organic way. He said the business seemed to be what people in the area were looking for.
“Our whole plan was really not to be in the antique business,” Louis said. “We had a furniture store, closed the furniture store, had to do something with the building. We felt this was the highest and best use of the building which it turned out, actually is.”
The three floors of the Arts and Antiques Marketplace are packed with items dating back decades, from toys to jewelry, making every trip to the store resemble a treasure hunt.
Claudio said this aspect of the building will likely not be impacted to a massive extent, because of its familiarity to customers. Instead, the changes to the building and business will be more in utilizing its space. Claudio said that he could implement his rental business here.
“There will be changes, but they’re all going to be for the betterment,” said Tim Liebrecht, director of operations for Claudio Corporation. “We’re going to take the foundation that Louis and Deloris put into this and we’re going to grow it and make it better for the community.
“We want to keep utilizing more of the building.”
In utilizing more of the building, Claudio said there is potential to add storefronts to the fourth floor and even create a living space on the top fifth floor of the structure.
While the Arts and Antiques Marketplace is already in the hands of the Claudio Corporation, Louis and Deloris are still helping the new ownership make a smooth transition. Louis himself is anticipating the evolutions to come from the building, and said he thinks the changes will help move Fairmont forward with new potential.
“This has been the retail anchor of downtown Fairmont,” Louis said. “Now it’s going to become not just an anchor but a magnet. It’s going to really draw people from the whole region to this area, not just for antiques and collectibles but newer type furniture that has a lot of use left.”