Editor's Note: There is still a Sears Hometown Store franchise on Marine Drive in downtown Astoria. The company was spun off from Sears Holdings in 2012 and specializes in home appliances, lawn and garden equipment and other tools.
The former Sears in downtown Astoria will open next month as Reclamation Marketplace, a collection of artisans, antique dealers and vintage restorers.
Michelle Liotta, who with her husband, Marcus, has been fixing up the former Mary and Nelly Flavel Building at Ninth and Commercial streets since buying it in 2016, has already assembled 18 vendors to populate the space, opening March 1.
Reclamation Marketplace adds to a growing list of indoor mall-like shopping experiences downtown, including Phog Bounders Antique Mall and Astoria Court in the former Abeco Office Systems building. As Liotta sees it, the more the merrier.
“Once you go to one, you want to go to more, and they all have different things,” she said. “And the fact that we filled up quite quickly and have a waitlist just proves that there is a place for this. Everyone’s going to get vendors, I think. I feel like there’s a want for this type of thing.”
Since losing Sears, the large storefront at 936 Commercial St. had sat vacant and in increasing disrepair. The space was marked by historical photos of the mothball fleet at North Tongue Point posted on windows as a decoration to passers-by.
After purchasing the building, the Liottas stabilized the foundation with anchors drilled into the ground, restored the brick veneer and terra cotta facade, replaced broken sections of sidewalk in front and uncovered the original transom windows.
Inside, Liotta cleaned out the detritus of the former department store and finished the space with foggy field green walls, eggshell white pillars and the restored original wood floors. On a mezzanine overlooking the space, light-bulbed marquee letters spell out Reclamation. The main showroom floor is divided into wooden slatted stalls reminiscent of animal stalls.
“We got a lot of jokes about Noah’s Ark when we were putting it together,” Liotta said.
The market’s offerings will include a mix of antiques, midcentury vintage memorabilia and artists’ booths.
Chuck Fritz, a former loader with Gustafson Logging, took one of the stalls for his hobby- turned- second career of transforming pieces of firewood, burls, root wads and other discarded parts of trees into bowls, urns and other pieces. Fritz liked the low commission and rent charged by Liotta compared to galleries, along with how his art fit with the space.
“It’s all reclamation,” he said, noting the shavings from his pieces are also reused as mulch and animal bedding. “I’m salvaging stuff that would have been burned up otherwise, thrown in the slash pile.”
Ronni Harris, who produces oil paintings, decorative tiles and other merchandise, said she liked having more control over her space and the freedom to stock it and let employees of the marketplace handle sales.
With the marketplace, the Liottas have now filled up four of the five suites in the M&N Building. On Ninth Street is the South Bay Wild Fish House. Along Commercial Street are Terra Stones and Wild Roots Movement and Massage.
The market will open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.