ST. PETERSBURG — Two longtime local retailers have bought another retail landmark. Jeffrey and Katrina Hess, owners of Old Northeast Jewelers and Hess Fine Art for 27 years, recently acquired the 33-year-old Patty and Friends Antique Mall.
"It's our plan to make Patty and Friends part of our family business and keep everything intact," said Jeffrey Hess. "We are keeping the name. It has such a long history, why should you argue with success?"
Other than upgrades in electricity and more advertising, he doesn't anticipate many changes in the business that houses about 70 independent vendors in two buildings at 1241 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N. The Hesses paid $380,000 for the 5,200 square feet of real estate and the business.
Monthly rental rates for vendor spaces will stay the same for at least the next six months.
"As we advertise more we will have to see how that goes," Hess said, adding that he doesn't anticipate an exodus of vendors. "There will be attrition and as people bow out we have a waiting list of fine dealers that want to get in. ... But we're not going to go there and turn over the apple cart."
They are planning a summer series of lectures as well as ongoing seminars and appraisal fairs.
The Hesses started their art and antique business at 1131 Fourth St. N 27 years ago and added the jewelry business a decade ago. In 2009 they opened a second Old Northeast Jewelers store at International Plaza in Tampa.
They were already looking for real estate investments on King Street before Patty and Friends went on the market in February.
Owner Blake Kennedy is selling the business his mom, Patty McBane, started so he can focus more on Kennedy Brothers Auctions with his twin brother, Brett.
"We like the funkiness of (King) Street and think it's a cool mixture of architecture. There's Spanish, colonial, Craftsman houses, you see Victorian houses," Hess said. "It was the perfect symbiotic deal to invest in real estate and Patty and Friends. We've dealt with Blake a long time and we really respect what they've built over there."
"We wouldn't have bought it if not for Blake and his mom," Katrina Hess added.
When McBane opened the business in 1980, it was a cutting-edge concept to put multiple antique dealers under one roof. She had seen a so-called antique mall in Nashville and decided to try it in Florida. At first, just 27 dealers paid her rent on their space in the store.
Her new idea stuck for 33 years. Now the vintage, but not yet antique, torch is passing.
Katherine Snow Smith can be contacted at email@example.com or (727) 893-8785.