“I didn’t know you were here,” is the phrase Tav Walraven of Lucas Street Antiques hears all the time. His antiques mall, located at 2023 Lucas Drive, showcases an eclectic collection of booths from local vendors and artists with an array of regularly changing products.
Walraven explains, “I want to appeal to a broader clientele; that is why I encourage my dealers to bring in various types of items at a great price point.” At his shop you can find furniture from various eras, art, photographs, vintage collectibles, mid-century items and even handcrafted farm implement light fixtures. It is this mixture of products that also encourages shoppers from all walks of life to spend time in his store.
Lucas Street Antiques has truly found a way to combine the elegance of the past with the artistic nature of the modern day. However, more than anything, it is how Walraven built his business that has led to his success.
Walraven sees himself as a partner to his many dealers. “My original idea was to pretend that I was the dealer renting a booth for my items,” he says. For this reason, he does not require any long-term leases. Each dealer can run their booth on a monthto- month basis. This allows each of his clients to build their business at their own pace. Most of the booths do more than house antiques; they are true showcases for one-of-a-kind items. This, too, comes from Walraven’s attitude that these spaces are the dealers’ areas for their own creativity.
Another way of showing his partnership mentality is that Lucas Street Antiques takes no commission on sales, allowing 100 percent of the purchase price for an item to be paid to the dealer directly. This defies traditional logic, but as with many things at Lucas Street Antiques, it fits right in with what Walraven had envisioned.
Asking what drew Walraven to this industry elicits a story as rich in history as some of the items the shop sells.
Walraven’s great-grandfather came to Texas in the late 1800s. He ran a local printshop for many years and that knowledge and entrepreneurial spirit was passed down to his son and grandson. Walraven’s father bought the building in which Lucas Street Antiques is housed in the late 1960s after his own father passed away. “This building means a lot to me,” Walraven says. “It is as much a part of me as anything else I have.”
When Walraven took over the building he knew he wanted to do something special with it. He worked on a few ideas but pursued the concept of his antiques business after visiting many local Dallas malls.
“I liked what they did with the building but not how they were running their relationships,” Walraven says. “I visited as many shops as I possibly could just to truly understand the field I was entering. I tore up quite a lot of blueprints laying out the booths. I’m pleased with the way it turned out.”
This level of research paid off. Then the real work began. Along with a friend, Walraven built the booths and took out an ad on the 24-7 Estate Sales website. Within two weeks he had over 20 tenants, and it has just kept growing.
“I have been very happy with the results,” Walraven says. “It has been a lot of hard work, but it is very gratifying to see everything come together and have this building being used to its full potential.”
Lucas Street Antiques seems to defy the unwritten rules of most antiques malls, but its success is changing how vendors look at the antiques business. That, in turn, is helping to build a new and loyal clientele.
While Walraven still occasionally hears, “I didn’t know you were here,” from new customers, three and a half years later, he now replies, “Welcome back!”
Rick Villa is a freelance writer based in Dallas. He can be reached at email@example.com.