It’s been two years since Deborah Coomes and Jennifer Higdon, a mother-daughter team, purchased the old West Louisville Elementary School at auction in 2012 in Owensboro. They celebrated the official grand opening of Preservation Station Market and Event Center the first weekend of July that year. The former school now houses antique, vintage, and unique shops, a beauty salon called The Old School Salon, a concession stand, a gymnasium, cafeteria, and classrooms for rent for birthday parties, reunions, and other family functions.
Open Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., shoppers can spend hours looking through classrooms full of carefully selected merchandise. Unlike a flea market, all items here are clean, refinished, and merchandised. Vendors are also encouraged to mix in the old and the new. “We like to sell everything we think is cool,” says Deborah Coomes. “We might bring in items we find at an international buyers mart, an auction, or a flea market. We sell vintage purses and totes, scarves, jewelry and home décor that are brand new, but we also sell all that is rustic, shabby chic, industrial, vintage and antique. We look for hot items we know buyers are seeking.”
Besides items brought in by the mother-daughter pair, shoppers can also find one-of-a-kind items from A Window of History, L & D What Knots, Sherrie’s Treasures, P & R Mutts, Wanamaker Lee’s, The Old Gray Mare, Old Kentucky Primitives, DD’s Treasures, Sticks and Stones, The Rustic Relic, River City Investments, Boog Ideas, and the Renaissance Gypsy.
When Aimee Williams moved from Savannah, Georgia to Owensboro, her husband told her she had to do something with all the items she was compelled to buy at auction. Williams says, “The minute I heard about Preservation Station, I knew what I was going to do.” Williams then opened her own shop at Preservation Station called A Window of History.
Rebecca Garner of Owensboro says almost the same thing. “I kept hearing about Preservation Station, and I had this perception that it was going to be like every other flea market, but the minute I walked in, I knew these two girls had a vision I had to be a part of.” Garner enjoys sharing her artistic creations with others in her space, Renaissance Gypsy.
Diane Whitwell was in the process of moving from Central City to Owensboro when she called, out of curiosity, about an ad seeking a salon owner. “When I talked to Jennifer Higdon on the phone, I knew I had to learn more about this place, and the minute I met with Debbie and Jennifer, I knew I had to be a part of their dream. Whitwell now owns and manages The Old School Salon at Preservation Station, open Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
“We want everyone to continue to enjoy this great old building, so we have a once a month party,” says Jennifer Higdon. “Market Days is the first full weekend of every month. On Market Days, as many as 70 additional vendors may set up in the gymnasium or in the cafeteria, we have some great live music from local musicians, and we offer some yummy items in our concession stand, such as pulled pork and chicken salad sandwiches, hamburgers, pizza, popcorn, etc. We are always seeking to unite with vendors of antique, vintage, or handcrafted items on our Market Days.”
“People have been coming from all over to enjoy this old school thanks to Facebook and the Busy Bee Trader,” says Nancy West, the facility manager. “People are coming from Georgia, Tennessee, Indiana, Illinois, and many other states. They are quickly learning what great deals they can find in our little community.”
Deborah Coomes says, “This is a beautiful area of Kentucky, and we have Diamond Lake Campground and Resort and Whittaker’s Guns, Kentucky’s largest gun shop, right next door. If people haven’t been out to West Louisville in a while, they should come and visit. And do not confuse West Louisville with Louisville. We are in Owensboro.”
“The greatest thing we have going for us right now is the team of vendors we have gathered together. Everyone has really pulled together to push business forward and help each other out. One day we hope to find a restaurant to lease space with us, and then we will be even further along on our journey to become a destination. Anyone who has a business idea that will fit in with what we are trying to do for the community is welcome to contact us,” says Higdon.
Preservation Station Market and Event Center is located at 9661 Highway 56, Owensboro KY, 42301. They can be found on the web at www.visitpreservationstation.com, on Facebook, by calling 270-993-7532, or by emailing [email protected].