Phil Castle, The Business Times
Shane and Robin Allerheiligen enjoy a sweeping view from their upstairs office of the mix of merchandise offered for sale in their downtown Grand Junction store.
The couple can take in at a single glance the artwork, decor, furniture, tools and toys that cover the walls and floor, line the shelves and fill display cases. If they stop and look closely enough, the two can distinguish from the proverbial forest of inventory some of the trees. Metal containers advertise popular products, but in ways not seen for decades. Political buttons promote the campaigns of candidates now only known from history books. And some mechanical devices have become so far removed from everyday use their functions are no longer evident.
Welcome to A Robin’s Nest of Antiques & Treasures and what the Allerheiligens say is the largest antique mall between Denver and Las Vegas.
Big numbers bolster their description. The Allerheiligens and another 85 vendors sell a wide variety of wares in a building with a total of 20,000 square feet of space.
With their customer base evenly split between residents and visitors, the couple is well on its way to developing a destination operation, Shane says. “We’re really trying to create something that will be an economic stimulus to Main Street.”
The Allerheiligens opened A Robin’s Nest of Antiques & Treasures in its first location two doors down Main Street in 2011. But the operation outgrew the 3,000 square foot of space available there in terms of the inventory and number of vendors selling goods, the couple says.
Late last year, the Allerheiligens had the opportunity to move their business into a much larger location at 602 Main St. Something of an antique itself, the building was constructed in 1916 and has housed over the years United Hardware, Capps Furniture and Interiors, Etc.
While the Allerheiligens sell the most merchandise, the number of vendors who rent space from them has grown from less than 30 in the old location to about 85 in the new and larger quarters. Sales likewise have tripled, Robin says.
Unlike some other operations that also charge a commission, the Allerheiligens say vendors at A Robin’s Nest of Antiques & Treasures pay only rent — a little for a small space, more for a larger space.
In addition to vendors, Java Junction Coffee House has re-opened in A Robin’s Nest of Antiques & Treasures, adding coffee, tea and other beverages to the offerings there.
Serial entrepreneurs, the Allerheiligens bring to their venture the experiences they’ve gained in operating a variety of other companies over the years — a pizza and wings restaurant, lawn care firm and flyer delivery business.
The Allerheiligens say they learned they enjoyed working together and being their own bosses. Robin says they long talked about operating an antique store with a coffee shop — and how have realized that aspiration.
While the Allerheiligens like antiques, Shane says they approach their venture as business owners, not collectors. “We treat it like a business first.”
That means they’re not attached to any of the merchandise and everything’s for sale. “We collect vendors and customers,” Shane says.
They attribute the growth of their operation to that approach and hard work — along with competitive pricing, a variety of unique wares and a clean and pleasant environment in which to shop.
The downtown location constitutes a key factor as well, Shane says. “This is the place to be.”
The Allerheiligens have expanded their antique mall at a time when other stores are closing and the antique market, generally speaking, remains soft, Shane says.
But the couple has broadened their operation in a number of ways — by selling merchandise online and accommodating different customers with different wares.
In addition to antiques, A Robin’s Nest of Antiques & Treasures sells a variety of collectibles, including comic books, memorabilia and records. Rings and other jewelry rank among the best-selling merchandise, Robin says.
Younger customers seem to embrace older technology, the Allerheiligens say, with their interest in cameras, telephones and typewriters.
Overall, the Allerheiligens consider themselves exporters in the sense they sell a lot of their merchandise to customers from outside the Grand Valley who buy online or visit the area. In the process, the Allerheiligens say they bring money into the local economy.
They say they want to build on that in attracting even more customers to their store, downtown and Grand Junction. “Our goal is to be a destination store,” Robin says.
Meanwhile, the Allerheiligens can keep an eye things from their upstairs office with the sweeping view.
A Robin’s Nest of Antiques & Treasures operates at 602 Main St. in downtown Grand Junction.
For more information, call 245-0109 or visit www.arobinsnestgj.com.