KELOWNA – Shoppers prefer to come to Lois Lane Antique Warehouse on their days off since it takes a while to browse the crowded aisles.
Here you can find everything from reclaimed furniture to antique telephones, toys and appliances. You can get a great deal on an old lamp from a long demolished hotel or a seat for the first tractor made with a three point hitch.
While most of the best stuff is inside the 6,000 square foot warehouse, outside are piles of weathered treasures reclaimed from across the Okanagan. Some are for sale, some aren’t.
The owners of Lois Lane describe their space in many ways; “cluttered”, “chaotic”, “like an attic”. But it’s obvious how much it means to them. The don’t buy anything plastic or keep track of inventory and there are no price tags on any of the merchandise.
“Most people like it because it’s chaotic,” Lois McCloskey says sitting next to her 33-year-old business partner and son Connor. She wears an old fur coat and toque and sketches a Rococo-style chesterfield in her notebook as she talks. “It’s a labour of love.”
Lois Lane has been in the old building on the corner of Clement and Ethel for the past seven years. But at the end of this month they have to be out.
The reason they are being evicted is not because of nuisance complaints to the city – which there have been because of the clutter – but because the city wants the land to widen the road. City of Kelowna spokesperson Tom Wilson says because of the new police services building a few blocks away, they intend to make it two lanes sometime in the future.
“The city has an easement that goes about three quarters of the way through the building and they have an agreement from long ago that they can claim that easement whenever they want to widen the road. The landlord has to tear down the building to make room for that.”
The McCloskey’s would rather see the building, which has been a horse stable, a boxing club and a highway maintenance storage facility, get heritage status and be restored but say that likely won’t happen.
“I think (the owner) always accepted that reality,” Connor says. “We all knew there was going to be a day and he doesn’t want to fight it. I think he doesn’t want the stress. It’s a lot easier to go with the flow and take down the building and we understand that. It would be nice to keep this piece of history but it’s not our decision. They’ve never told us anything different and they’ve never broken their promise. We walked into this willingly.”
Now the plan is to move a block down the road to a temporary location in the old B.C. Fruit Packers building. The space is a little smaller but it means they will at least be able to stay in business.
Lois says while they feel trapped between a rock and a hard place, the move will provide them an opportunity to refine their stock, which will benefit their customers in the long run.
“It’s going to be a lot of work but that’s where it’s going to be good to move locations,” Connor says. “We can re-evaluate what we have and what’s worth keeping.”
In the meantime, Lois says they plan to keep doing what they love. Buying and selling antiques and repurposing them for new life.
“It’s fascinating,” Lois says. “We don’t know what’s coming in the door, we don’t know who’s coming in the door and we don’t know what we’re going to make from that particular thing.”
“It is an antique store at its core but what’s unconventional about our style of business is that we would like to be creating things every day,” Connor echoes. “That’s why we do this.”
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