OWEGO (WBNG) – One of the largest antique stores in our area is set to close its doors after only eight months in business.
Owego Schoolhouse Antiques owner Leonard Hilldale transformed the former Owego Free Academy school building on Elm Street into a hub for antiques.
“I enjoyed all of the vendors and I enjoy antiques and history,” said Hilldale “It was something I always wanted to do.”
Hilldale said he had to make the tough decision to close less than a year after opening the antique mall.
“I’m 60 years old. I was using up my kid’s college fund and my retirement funds and I just couldn’t do it anymore,” said Hilldale.
Hilldale admits what made his store a stand out for vendors is a big reason for the closure. He says he gave his vendors a 60 day notice.
“We didn’t charge people rent which may have been my downfall, that we did just work off commission and we got off to such a slow start that all the money got used up in the first seven months,” said Hilldale.
Hilldale says fans of Owego Schoolhouse and vendors were saddened to hear the news.
“They are very disappointed. They thought the place was phenomenal. The vendors are disappointed because it was getting better. It just wasn’t getting better fast enough,” said Hilldale.
The closure of the business also leaves the future of Owego’s International Day of Peace Festival in question.
“That’s a big disappointment for me if the peace festival doesn’t continue. That will be sad for me,” said Hilldale.
Earlier this year, Hilldale mowed a giant peace sign into the former field behind the building.
In September, hundreds came to the first ever festival to stand together inside the sign as a symbol of peace.
Hilldale says whether or not he sells the building, he hopes the peace festival can continue.
“I’m really hoping to be able to do it again next year, and if I still own the building next year I’ll still do it,” said Hilldale.
Hilldale says starting December 1st, Owego Schoolhouse Antiques will only be open on Saturdays.
There will be a liquidation sale during that time and the store will close once all of the merchandise has been sold.